Book recommendation: Robin Hood, by Henry Gilbert

Robin Hood is, quite possibly, one of the English world’s oldest heroes. True, nobody knows for sure if he was real, but the tales of the deeds of him and his band of Merry Men have lasted through several centuries.

Henry Gilbert’s version of Robin Hood doesn’t necessarily touch on all of the Robin Hood ballads, but it does cover quite a few. The tales included in the novel start with how Robin became an outlaw, and they end with the story of his death. Covering everything from love to war and from mercy to vengeance, they’re a wonderful and thorough introduction to the folklore.

As we were taught when we were young, Robin Hood was a man who stole from the rich so he could give to the poor. After being ruled an outlaw and ousted from his home, Robin takes to the forest. Accompanied by his band of Merry Men, he rises to the challenge of protecting and aiding those who need to it most. But such deeds come with a price, and Robin Hood becomes the sworn enemy of many of the country’s most powerful men.

Gilbert’s novelization of the Robin Hood ballads was a great read. Although the style of the writing took a little getting used to, it didn’t take me long to fall into the rhythm of it. Once I did, I found that the stories flowed easily.

Robin was, of course, a character that I had no problem rooting for. He’s caring, generous, and cunning, and he even showed a certain level of kindness to his enemies.

While it’s true you could find those same qualities in any author’s version of the Robin Hood folklore, I’m still going to recommend you check out Gilbert’s novelization. While he didn’t necessarily hold back on the characters’ acts of violence, he also doesn’t include a lot of unnecessarily gory details. And he covered exactly the type of stories I was interested in reading — Robin Hood’s becoming an outlaw, how he met many of his Merry Men, and the love he shared with Maid Marian.

Goodreads summary

Robin Hood is the best-loved outlaw of all time. In this beautifully illustrated edition, Henry Gilbert tells of the adventures of the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest – Robin himself, Little John, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet and Alan-a-Dale, as well as Maid Marian, good King Richard, and Robin’s deadly enemies Guy of Gisborne and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.

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