I was actually quite surprised by this book. It was written in language on the modern end of old English. The phrasing and some of the vocabulary are old and interesting, but for the most part the language and phrasing are very common, probably intended for the general public to be able to read and understand it.
The book is also written in a series of events, I guess you could call them. They are not short stories exactly, but each chapter is its own event. The combination of all the stories and the order they are in create the story of Robin Hood – it is not one stream-lined novel. For example, one chapter is about how Robin Hood meets Little John and another is how he meets Will Scarlet. There is also a chapter on the archery match that Robin Hood participates in for the Queen. The rest are simply stories of their life in the woods and how they robbed different people. The methods they used were different for each chapter and were interesting to read about. One particularly interesting chapter was when Robin Hood and Little John challenged each other to see which would be a better day – spending one as a beggar or one as a wandering friar. Little John’s chapter followed his day as a wandering friar and the next chapter followed Robin Hood’s day as a beggar. These are the kind of stories that fill the many chaptered novel of life in Sherwood Forest.
The thing that stood out the most to me was how much Hollywood has taken this original story of Robin Hood and changed it. There is no Maid Marion in the book at all. Robin Hood (SPOILER ALERT) actually dies at the end, which is pretty much unheard of. You also see him during three different rulers – King Harry, King Henry, and King John. There is actually very little between Robin Hood and Prince John, they only really become enemies at the very end when Robin decides to leave the King’s service. It does talk a little about how much he was favored by King Henry. There were a few stories where he interacted with King Harry. And there was an animosity between Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham, but it is not a key part of the story line. Also, Robin Hood and his band are very clearly thieves and con artists, nice ones and they donated to the poor, but definitely thieves.
I’d recommend this to anyone who likes adventures stories, stories about merry old England, or likes the history of Robin Hood. It is definitely not for everyone, but the book is appropriate for almost any age. The language will annoy some people and the pieced together story line will be hard for some people to understand and follow. However, the story moves along and can be put down and picked up again easily. I’d probably read it again if I was bored and looking for something to read, but that probably won’t be for a good while.