Monday 31 August 2009


"As good as Bernard Cornwell or your money back..."

I must confess there isn't much that gets my back up as much as stickers like this stuck on the front covers of historical fiction, but I gave Angus Donald's debut novel Outlaw a chance (it may have been the subtitle 'Meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest' that snagged me), and am glad I did.

As good as Cornwell? Not really, but this retelling of the Robin Hood story in the first person by Alan Dale is pretty good and tries to present the legend in a more historical manner akin to Cornwell's Winter King trilogy which it apes to some extent.

Donald's Robin isn't the straight forward whiter than white character of yore and he is not beyond a bit of torture and murder when the mood takes him. The outlaws are outlaws and behave as such, though any line between them and those trying to catch them is distinctly blurry.

Whilst quite bloody and violent in parts (I can see HBO picking this up for a TV series!), it's an interesting historical take on a well know story and I am looking forward to the sequel Crusader and volumes beyond that (the introduction of Prince John in the final chapter bodes well for the continuing fight in Sherwood Forest). Certainly it had me pondering the possibility of some small scale medieval skirmish games...

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