Insert a semi-evil chuckle as you will, readers. For I did sneak onto the blog and post on Wednesday evening! Now comes Thursday morning, with a review, as promised. I do not yet know if you either grown or rejoice at these postings, so if you have any specific inclination either way, please comment and tell me of it. Now, onto the review!
Robin Hood or Robin Hood and His Adventures
by Paul Creswick (1866-1947)
My copy published by Charles Scribner’s Sons
Some editions illustrated by N.C. Wyeth
Plot * * *
Though this book often lacks a little in the page-turning aspect (most chapters end on a fairly “stoppable” note), it is a Robin Hood plot I enjoy. As I said in the review of Outlaw, to find even a fair plot in Robin Hood is to find a good Robin Hood plot. This one is interesting, because Robin doesn’t become an outlaw for a good length of time. This is one of the reasons I didn’t buy the Russell Crowe Robin Hood tagline about it being the “story before the legend”--I’ve seen a interpretation of the story before! Though this fact slows down the book a little, is interesting to see Robin grow up, and see his characteristics even before he is a man. It gives you a good long while to get attached to this little fellow, who has a bunch of misfortunes, some brought on by himself, others not. I like seeing what has formed the Robin of the later books, and seeing the people aligning themselves against him makes the reader wish to align alongside him.
Also, the overarching villain and villainess (an interesting character) get some good development too, and aren’t just some “out there” Sheriff who wants to get rid of a problem. These people, especially the villainess, have some reasons why they want Robin Hood, and we’re able to see them.
The Marian/Robin subplot is something of a weak point, seeming a little too-good-to-be-true, but as it causes Robin some issues and heartache, it is somewhat redeemed. Besides that, Marian/Robin is the only romance I like, and the one in this book is simple and sweet.
Characters * * *
As I said, the first half of the book allows one to grow close to this little lad called Robin, who’s attempting to do a man’s job before he’s really a man. Robin Hood characters are much like Robin Hood plots, too--fair is good. These are better then fair, somehow, though I can’t say why. I just grow close to this Robin. That’s that. Marian’s sweet, members of the band gain some distinction from each other (especially Will Stuteley--I really enjoy this version of him), and the villains have some definition to them. The villainess (I’m not giving her name on purpose) is perhaps a little over-evil, but I enjoy disliking and being scared of her. She pulls off better plots than her male counterpart, and this is interesting.
Golden Arrow * * * *
This book is a very Robin Hood book. There’s not much else to say about it. What makes it even more enjoyable for someone like me, is the “classic” feel to it--probably gained by its age. It has an archaic feel in its dialogue and narration that goes even beyond that, so it feels more in-period then some do, without getting hilariously funny, like Howard Pyle’s does. (Intentionally, I think, but that’s for a different review.) This one is quite good. Very Robin Hood.
“Fluently!” * * * *
Though there’s nothing particularly striking or quotable about this dialogue, I do enjoy it, partly because of the archaic feel I mentioned before. The characters are clever, and even amidst the “knave,” “harkee,” “in sooth,” and “perchance” it flows very naturally, with the characters responding well to each other. Though not always in-stitches funny, it is good dialogue.
Others * * * *
As I’ve said before, this part is hard to rate. But, as I can’t think of any objections to put here, I’ll go ahead and rate it “very good.” Most of the diversions from the well-trodden plot of Robin Hood I’ve mentioned in my other sections. All in all, it’s a very fun ride. A bit thick and slow on the first reading, but it gets better with every subsequent one.
Oh! I did think of another one. N.C. Wyeth, a painter, did several paintings for this version (I’m pretty sure), and you can find them in some printings of the book, mine, for example. They’re quite good, and I really like them.
Overall Thoughts and Rating * * * *
This one definitely earns a four. I panicked and bought it when I found out the library was weeding them out. I think it is no longer in print, and this saddens me very much. This book is not only a good Robin Hood, it’s a good book in general.
I may have to go back and adjust my rating system sometime, to allow for some .5s or something, so I don’t end up with them all looking about the same! This one is really good. Highly recommend it. Definitely more so than Outlaw.
Picture again taken from Amazon.com. You can buy the book for $4 on there, apparently! (Used)