The rip-roaring tale of a young follower of Robin Hood and their mission to rescue King Richard from captivity in A.D. 1192.
Alan Dale is a painfully old man of about 60 who writes of his past exploits as a brave and idealistic 20-year-old lad. The youth greatly admires the Earl of Locksley, an amoral rascal who goes by the name Robin Hood and has a habit of robbing rich travelers as they journey through Sherwood Forest. (If he also gives to the poor, Dale makes little note of it.) Robin Hood’s great enemy is Murdac, the high sheriff of Nottingham, and judging from their actions, neither is bound for sainthood. Mr. Hood takes men’s lives as well as their riches and harbors a cheerful though private contempt for all matters religious. Murdac is portrayed as a murderous weasel. Meanwhile, King Richard has been kidnapped and held for ransom on his way back from the third Crusade, and it’s going to take a lot of silver to purchase his release. Will Richard make it home before his brother John usurps the throne? Inspired by but not slavish to historical events of the Dark Ages, this book is full of twists and turns. Donald clearly has done considerable homework as he outfits his characters with hauberks, chausses and misericords (stilettos) and even acquaints the reader with Nottingham Castle’s stinking privy. In a historical note at the end, Donald acknowledges where he has taken liberties with history for the sake of a good story. He writes spectacular fight scenes full of blood and gore where even the good guys are murderers, and a couple of the characters indulge in imaginative blasphemy that could curdle Christian blood.
A fast-moving, thoroughly enjoyable yarn.