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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Robin Hood Week: The Books

Howard Pyle's adaption of Robin Hood is viewed by many as the definitive version.  It combines many of the original stories and ballads together into one smooth plot.  It's written in Olde English language, but not so old that children can't understand it.  The style and plot are hugely Robin Hood-ish and it includes all the characters (except for Marian - she only gets two passing mentions throughout the whole book).  

However, this book isn't my favorite version of Robin Hood.  For one, I don't particularly like the tone and voice of the book (the constant dialect gets on my nerves, more often than not) and many of the characters aren't portrayed in the best way possible, in my opinion.  They're actually rather flat.  Robin is a saint, Allan a Dale is a mopey, whiny wimp who only appears for one story, the sheriff is really, really dumb (along with being evil), and Guy is an assassin who is rather crazy.  And good, strong characters are really what makes a story, in my opinion, so that's probably the biggest reason I don't like this adaption.

Also, it was written back in the olden days, which means that it's very sentimental, something that always detracted from Robin's otherwise heartbreaking death, in my opinion.  I know that Dickens' books can sometimes be a little sentimental too, but it's a bit over the top in Robin Hood (the language probably has something to do with it).  Overall, I'd have to say that it's my least favorite version out of the three I've read, and I hardly ever pick it up to read.  It has it's good points, but in my opinion the bad points far outweigh them.  Still, it's a good read for any fan of Robin Hood and I don't absolutely hate it.  I just don't like it that much.

The Adventures of Robin Hood
This is the latest adaption of Robin Hood I've discovered, and I really like it.  I found it at our local library, and at first I thought it was Howard Pyle's version because it was in the classics section, but as soon as I started reading, I quickly found out that I was wrong.  This book is like the HP adaption, in that it combines legends and ballads into one plot, but the wording is more modern and the characters more likeable.

Guy was especially intriguing.  He doesn't have any good points, but he still manages not to be one-dimensional.  And he loves Marian so he's sort of like BBC's take on the character.  Speaking of Marian...she runs away from her father's castle (her father is actually pretty mean) to join Robin in the forest and she's really spirited and outspoken, so, again I can see echoes of the character in the BBC adaption.  Robin is pretty amazing in this version.  During the last chapter, he has to jump from a tower to escape Prince John's men (sort of like in the animated Robin Hood) and he does some amazing wounded distress (although the hero isn't supposed to die from AWD).

Will Scarlet and Will Stutely's characters are combined in this book, with Will Scarlet being the name chosen for the amalgamation.  Those horrid sheriff's men shoot him down near the end of the book and it's so sad.  Especially as he was Robin's closest friend in this version and Robin was so torn up about it.  Speaking about the ending...ACK.  It's one of the saddest things I've ever read. 

See, Robin became an outlaw again and he had to leave Marian and after a time, she thought he had died.  So Guy was trying to persuade her to marry him, but she refused and so the sheriff was going to make her a prisoner, or something to that effect.  And, of course, she needs to escape, but she doesn't know how.  Anyway, Little John (I think it's Little John) helps her find sanctuary in the abbey of Kirklees and there the prioress wears away on Marian until she agreed to become a nun.  Then, when Robin's dying, Little John takes him to the abbey and the prioress does her dreadful deed and Robin blows his horn.  Both Little John - who's in the forest - and Marian - who's praying in the chapel - hear it and come to him and...yeah.  It's almost as heartbreaking as the ending of BBC's adaption.

This is my second favorite adaption of Robin Hood.  And my favorite adaption is the next - and last - one being reviewed.

1254643This book is the best version of Robin Hood I've ever read.  I found it for free on Kindle while I was browsing around for free Robin Hood books, and so I downloaded it.  When I first tried to read it, I couldn't get into and I set it down.  There's a lot of Robin's backstory laid down (about half the book) before he even becomes an outlaw, so I was a little bored at first.  However, I stuck with it the second time and I'm so glad I did.  Robin is a lot younger in this version (only seventeen or eighteen), and so is Marian (fifteen or sixteen) and I found the whole story more interesting than any other version I've read.  A new character that I never read about before - Will o' th' Green - was in the first half of the book.  He was the original leader of Robin's band and I really, really liked him.  'Twas quite sad when he died, naming Robin as his heir, so to speak.

Will Stutely is amazing in this adaption.  I never really cared about him when I read HP's version, but he was completely and totally epic in this book.  I almost can't bear to keep all my thoughts on how great he is until his post, but I guess I'll have to.  Also, Allan a Dale was a huge improvement over other portrayals of him.  He's actually pretty cool and he and his wife join the gang after their wedding (I cannot get over how amazingly brave his wife is).

The ending was almost as sad as Green's version, but it didn't have Marian in it (she died of fever after she and Robin were married for five years, leaving him with two sons.  He was so grief stricken that he sent his sons to his cousin and never saw them again) so it wasn't as bad.  But the scene between him and Little John that is in every. single. adaption I've read, is always heartwrenching.  There's really no other way to put it.

What's your favorite book version of Robin Hood?  Have you read all of these books, or just one or two?


Miss Jane Bennet said...

Roger Lancelyn Green wrote a Robin Hood book?? We recently got interested in his writing, and so far he's really good. I am going to read his RH book.
Ummm, well, I mostly agree about the Howard Pyle version, although I really, really like Will Scarlet in that one for some reason. And Little John isn't so bad either.
Well, I actually gave up on the Paul Creswick version for the reasons you named- too much looong backstory. I'll have to try it again. :)

Hayden said...

I read the Howard Pyle version and didn't care for it, so I might check out the other ones!

Sierra Bailey said...

I just found out my library has Roger Lancelyn Green's Robin Hood, so I can't wait to read it.

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