REVIEW: Nottingham: The True Story of Robyn Hood by Anna Burke
Robyn Hood didn’t set out to rob the rich, but in Nottingham, nothing ever seems to go according to plan.
After a fateful hunting accident sends her on the run from the law, Robyn finds herself deep in the heart of Sherwood Forest. All she really wants to do is provide for her family and stay out of trouble, but when the damnable Sheriff of Nottingham levies the largest tax in the history of England, she’s forced to take matters into her own hands. Relying on the help of her merry band of misfits and the Sheriff’s intriguing—and off-limits—daughter, Marian, Robyn must find a way to pull off the biggest heist Sherwood has ever seen.
With both heart and freedom at stake, just how much is she willing to risk to ensure the safety of the ones she loves?
Nottingham is a delightful romp rife with bois bearing bows, transmen wielding quarterstaffs, noble ladies loving ladies bawdy bisexual musicians, naughty nonbinary outlaws, and saucy sapphic nuns—in other words, Robyn Hood like you’ve never seen her before.
Dear Ms. Burke,
This just sounded too interesting to pass by. It’s true that every person is being revised LGBTQIA-wise. Robyn is obviously having thoughts about Marian who has been introduced to sexual thoughts about women by seeing the interactions of Will and Alana the minstrel who will obviously turn out to be Alan-a-dale. Little John is a transgender woman–>man and Tuck is a female prioress of immense size and undetermined sexuality. Will(a) Scarlet is a lesbian who has often dressed as her twin brother and who flees an abusive marriage while her brother prefers to diddle his squire.
Readers will need to be prepared for a few bloopers. Tea didn’t reach England until the mid-17th century and the first Marquis was appointed by Richard II. But how many of us caught Woodiwiss’s mistake with potatoes back in the day? The dialog is modern but it’s consistent with no mayhaps or prithees thrown in.
So there are some historical issues but overall the strength of the story carried me along through the first 1/3. The grinding poverty and ever present fear of starvation for the lower classes is there along with some privilege shade throwing against the elitism of the aristocrats and a hint of heretical thoughts in an age where most people did still believe in damnation and hellfire. Then things slowed down. A lot. I supposed even the band of Merry “Men” need a Quartermaster to worry about supplies and drill sergeants have to whip them into shape but it’s not exactly scintillating to read about.
Then there’s the issue of how Robyn and Marian handle challenges and issues that arise. Generally it’s by ignoring known danger and then choosing the worst thing to do once they’re backed against a wall. I’m surprised that Little John doesn’t give himself a headache with the number of face palms he no doubt does.
But then in the last 1/4 of the story, it kicks back into gear with dash, derring-do, an archery contest straight from William Tell and then dogs. I like how the conflict between the main villain and our heroes is ended and agree with Robyn and Marian that this death would have haunted them. It’s a bit uneven but nonetheless, I’m glad I read it. C+