I know, I know, I'm getting a little review-happy. But I'm reading a lot of Robin Hood right now because it makes me happy. I might as well review it while it's in the house, right?
I can't really do this one like normal ones, because it's really a collection of Robin Hood short stories, not a book by one author. I'll rate each story separately and mention anything that's particularly striking.
Sherwood: Original Stories from the World of Robin Hood
Edited by Jane Yolen
Published by Philomel Books, 2000
Our Lady of the Greenwood, Jane Yolen * *
I am tempted to rate this one poor, but decided not to because that might be putting too much personal opinion into this and not being fair story-wise and things. Anyway, this is the first story in this book and is rather weird...it deals with Robin's birth, all right in its own way, but chooses to deal with something called "the Fey" and "faeries" and weird things like that. There is actually more than one book that chooses to indulge here, and I never like the feel of that. This story actually gave me a low opinion of the whole book: an unfair opinion, I realized.
Marian, Maxine Trottier * * *
This one is sweet, dealing with Marian when she was ten years old. It has "flashforwards" throughout that make you wish that the story was longer, and it's fun to read.
Under the Bending Yew, Anna Kirwan * * *
Once one gets past the cumbersome dialogue, this one is kind of fun too, especially when you figure out who the narrator is. Maybe I'm slow, but it took me awhile. It too is a nice "set-up" to some larger story...though you feel more satisfied when this one comes to an end than when Marian does.
Know Your True Enemy, Nancy Springer * * * *
I remember thinking this was the jewel of the collection. It's actually part of the reason I at last decided to read the Rowan books, by the same author (not a fan of those, by the way). It's an interesting, less-typical story that goes beyond just Robin Hood and talks about revenge and friendship. The only weird part is that the outlaws refer to "gods," which even without my disagreement, makes no sense to me whatsoever. Medieval Catholic England? Where do you come up with that?
The Children's War, Timons Esaias * * *
This one is slow to start off, but takes an interesting angle--obviously years after the original establishment of Robin's band. Not only is it interesting, but you can't help thinking: "you know, it never tells this side of the two hundred men he had, and this makes sense." It's getting an extra star for this angle, because the story is probably the slowest in the collection.
Straight and True, Robert J. Harris * * * *
This is one of the three that I remembered when I requested this book. It tells a humorous tale about a not-so-perfect Robin through the eyes of Friar Tuck. It has a fun voice, and it's a fun story.
At Fountain Abbey, Mary Frances Zambreno * * * *
Though I'd forgotten it, I really like this one too. It's another one that I wish had a whole book to go along with it. Interesting and fun angle, one that when I finished it made me wish I could take it up and write more!
Robin Hood v. 1.5.3, Adam Stemple * * * * *
This one is brilliant. It really is. It takes a few pages or careful reading (at least for me) to understand what's going on, but even if you miss it entirely, it's still amazingly funny. Robin Hood's a computer virus. Need I say more?
Overall: * * * 1/2
Short stories aren't really my thing, but I do like this collection. Once you get past the weird first one, it's really a lot better than I remembered!