Robin Hood Redux

Take no scorn to wear the horn
It was the crest when you were born
Your father’s father wore it
And your father wore it to
Robin Hood and Little John
Have both gone to the fair o
and we will to the merry green wood
To hunt the buck and hare o

‘Hal-N-Tow’ (traditional)

I’m looking in this post at contemporary fictions that are based (sometimes loosely) on the stories of Robin Hood.

Robin McKinley’s The Outlaws of Sherwood is for my money the best of the contemporary tellings of this legend, as our reviewer says it has ‘good characters, interesting plotting, and a superbly thought-out background. What more could you want? This is an original telling of what far too often becomes a boring retelling of the Robin Hood legend. Good stuff indeed!’

Lisa Croll Di Dio’s Sherwood Forest is a neo-pagan telling of the legend in which the followers of The Goddess are good and all Christians are evil. And I should mention it’s also a bodice ripper as well.

More realistic in its use of a neo-pagan mythos is Theresa Tomlinson’s The Forestwife and its sequel, Child of the May, which has a female healer as its central character in the Sherwood sage but which also looks at Robin before he becomes a thing of legend.

Jennifer Roberson’s Lady of Sherwood has a cover that would suggest strongly that it too is a bodice ripper, but as our reviewer notes that is not the case at all, since in casting ‘Robin and Marian against the backdrop of history, Roberson’s produced an enlightening window through which to view the old tales and ballads, and more than a few reasons to further explore both the enduring popularity of these tales and their particular associations with this period.’

Nancy Springer’s Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest, Lionclaw: A Tale of Rowan Hood, and Wild Boy: A Tale of Rowan Hood involve a girl who, after seeing her mother murdered, hacks back her hair to disguise herself as a boy, changes her name to Rowan, and sets off for Sherwood Forest planning to join the band of outlaws led by Robin Hood.

Jane Louise Curry’s Robin Hood and his Merry Men and Robin Hood in the Greenwood are retellings of the tale intended strictly for younger children as a way of introducing them to this story.

Green Arrow (which is the illustration I choose for this post) is non-super hero in the DC Universe whose appearance and back story are clearly based upon the Robin Hood legend.

I’ve saved the weirdest for last… Trystam Kith’s Trouble in the Forest: A Cold Summer Night is a re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend in which Frobin and His Merry Band aren’t just bad guys, but murderous vampires. Now that’s a strange retelling!

Now listen to Alan Prosser and Ian Kearey of Oysterband fame performing ‘Hal n Tow’.

Cross-posted from Sleeping Hedgehog.

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