Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Robin's Country

* = poor
* * = fair
* * * = good
* * * * = very good
* * * * * = above and beyond

Robin's Country
Monica Furlong
Published by Alfred A. Knopf




Plot * * ½
This is a character-centered story. It is more connected than some Robin Hood books--mainly because of the main character, Dummy--but it is still episodic. There is kind of a typical Robin Hood defeat-bad-guys finale, but it feels a little wrong at the end of this book. It just kind of ends. It did keep me reading, though, because the plot element of Dummy’s mysterious past was interesting.

Characters * * *
I’m a little torn on the “grade” of the characters as well. They not overly developed (this book is only 140 pages long), but you feel like you get to like and know them all the same. This book fits into a the category of “short and sweet” on the whole.
As I mentioned before, Dummy’s mysterious past is interesting, and I like him as a main character.
Marian’s hostility is interesting and understandable.
Robin’s very Robin, even if he doesn’t get as much screen time as is usual. I like how Dummy notices that his face gets “a look” when they’re in danger, and he (Dummy) can tell that Robin just loves danger. Robin’s also kind and caring, if not originally towards Dummy, definitely towards others.
Dummy’s friend Jehan is a little flat, but because Dummy adores him you’re kind of tricked into liking him anyway.

Golden Arrow * * *
This is a children’s book. The characters feel right, and Sherwood feels like the same forest as always--a place to hide in, a wholesome place filled with wholesome people. So, look elsewhere for elaborate disguises, grand escapes, and bouts with the quarterstaff--but if you’re looking for the justice, kindness, and courage, it’s here. (And there’s an archery contest, too!)

“Fluently!” * *
This book is low on the usual battle-of-wits (the best part is when they entertain a Bishop) dialogue. Even though Robin professes to “love teasing,” you don’t see much of it. I guess that’s because the book’s focus is on Dummy. His life is smaller and more centered on the camp, because he’s only a boy. So, as mentioned before, we don’t see many exploits, just hear about them.

Others * * *
I realized as I reread this book that I was probably influenced by a pretty strong element: faith. I remember liking that about it as I reread it. Robin’s Catholic and sincere. He has his usual high morals with good backing for them. That was an interesting touch to this one. Most books glaze over that a bit, but this one actually delved into it. Even if I don’t agree with the aspects of Medieval Catholic faith, I did appreciate Robin’s attempt to serve a higher authority.
Another fun thing is the time spent on archery/bow-making. It’s interesting and accurate.

Overall Thoughts and Rating * * *
This is a sweet book. I don’t mean that in surfer-dude slang, but its older meaning. Its definitely a kid’s book, and is innocent with a mostly happy ending. I like it, even if it isn’t as rowdy and laughter-inducing as the typical book. It’s kind of nice in its atypical-but-still-traditional way. I wouldn’t fight to own a copy, but I don’t mind picking it up now and again to read. It has a good heart.

I guess I’ll leave it at that.

~Nairam

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