The fifth book in The Outlaw Chronicles (Warlord, 2013, etc.) concludes Robin Hood’s quest for the Holy Grail with an unholy trail of blood and a damn good story.
Narrator Sir Alan Dale is a devout Christian (in his own mind) who will follow the heathen Robin Hood anywhere. With a small band of friends, they leave England in hopes of finding the sacred bowl Christ once drank from 1,200 years earlier. Mere droplets of water that have touched the grail will cure any sickness, they believe. Sir Alan’s beloved wife, Godifa, or Goody, has fallen terribly ill, so his aim is to cure her, but Robin just wants the grail as loot. Alan’s and Robin’s personalities have already been well fleshed out in earlier novels, but the best character here is Nur, Alan’s disfigured and crazed former lover. Fans of the series already know her, but finally she is at her howling best. All the books drip with gore and with cleavage of the worst kind (alas, no sex), so squeamish readers ought to avoid the whole series. Heroes and foes fight battles both countless and often pointless because it’s what they do—slaughter each other in the name of the Prince of Peace. That said, Donald writes great battle scenes. Although “the ice snake of fear slithered in [Alan's] stomach” before an early encounter, he later “took a firm double grip on the handle of Fidelity and waded into the battle like a man charging into the sea.” Later, one slice from his sword Fidelity “rent [the cowardly killer’s] body from shoulder to waist, his torso flipping open obscenely like a sliced plum.” And against desperate odds, he and his band “poured pots of boiling water on the men below and jeered at their scalded screams.” Then, when everything has long since cooled down, Alan realizes the great power of faith and belief.
A fine escape for lovers of blood and gore from days of yore.