Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Remember, the book is in public domain. Download or read the ebook online legally and for free at Project Gutenberg, Google Books or the Internet Archive among other sites, or check out the audiobook from LibriVox. You can also use a print copy. In either case my copy may not match up with yours chapter-wise. Follow along with the very-long subtitle. For this chapter:
Telling How The Sheriff Of Nottingham Swore That He Would Deal Dole To Robin Hood. Also How He Made Three Trial Thereat, But Missed Each Time By A Good Bow’s Length.
We’ve already gone through the first two tales of this part. We saw Robin be a jerk to a guy just doing his job and that the famous archery scene didn’t happen the way we were told. We now go into the third of the Sheriff’s failed attempts to seize Robin Hood. I wonder what other changes will be forthcoming from the way his story is told today? We already know that Prince John is too young to be in control of Nottingham, the tax overload that Robin is famous for fighting against has thus far not revealed itself, and we still have had no sign of Maid Marian save for a passing line of dialog in the prologue. Robin Hood may also be the first example of a sliding timeline as the Crusades haven’t even happened yet and he doesn’t suddenly have a Muslim sidekick despite being on the Christian side of the holy war. I think at this point it’s safe to ignore what you know because even the stuff we know about Robin and the merry men (which isn’t their group name but a general description) we obviously don’t know well at all.
III: Will Stutley Rescued By His Companions
Of course before he can be rescued he needs to be caught. Since going by the law didn’t work and being clever backfired miserably the Sheriff opts to actually send his men out to get Robin and his band. The king won’t help because in his eyes the Sheriff and his men should be good enough to deal with one outlaw, because in fiction the higher ups, be they good or evil, always fail to recognize some threats are just that good. the Sheriff’s standing on the good/evil scale is a bit more vague than we’re used to. Usually he’s the straight up villain, out to carry out Prince John’s greed-driven demands. Since Prince John isn’t old enough to rule anything larger than his sandbox just yet that isn’t an issue. He may want the reward money–and again I have to ask as the Sheriff puts a bounty on the band’s heads for his own men to collect, are they getting even paid for this? Is this this a volunteer police force or something? Anyway the Sheriff may be after money and revenge but he’s not entirely in the wrong here like the version we know.
So the band goes into hiding because Robin used the Man Of Steel method of not wanting to kill ever again but when Will is sent out to check if the coast is clear it most certainly is not. (Which reminds me now to pray for everyone in the path of hurricane Dorian. I know that won’t mean anything in the archives years later but right now it’s very important. Pray that sucker away from land anymore than it already has!) He gets found out due to a cat, and I wonder if he got a reward? Robin and crew opt to rescue Will, because otherwise the title of this chapter wouldn’t make sense. Interestingly the Sheriff wants to hang Will but I don’t think any of his crimes warrant the death penalty. What’s he guilty of, theft? That’s not a hangin’ offense and even the Palmer (“a medieval European pilgrim to the Holy Land” according to Wikipedia if I have the right definition) notes that he only defended himself when one the Sheriff’s men tried to jump him. Somehow I don’t think “resisting arrest” is a hanging offense either. Maybe if they handed him his warrant first? Arrests back then are kind of hard to make sense of.
However, the fact that the Sheriff is pretty much bragging about hanging a man for theft and taunting him about his corpse being left to the birds…yeah, while Robin is hardly the clean and pure hero he’s become save for his no-kill policy I’m beginning to see how the Sheriff is the baddie here, because he is seriously stretching the “in the right” defense I’ve made until now. It makes me feel better when Little John rescues Will and swipes the Sheriff’s own sword from his hand so Will could protect himself as the pair hold off the Sheriff’s men until Robin and friends can join in. We again see Robin will not take a life but won’t necessarily let the Sheriff know that. It’s kind of Batman-ish in a way. Hmm, that’s two superhero references in one review not involving superheroes. Tells you something about my brain, doesn’t it? At any rate the Sheriff is scared off and vows not to deal with Robin anymore. I doubt he’ll hold to that but I’ve seen temporary villains in the source material turn into the main antagonist in alternate material before. So maybe I’m wrong but I suspect the Sheriff will show up again.
Thus ends our first trio of tales. Next time we enter the second part and the first of another trio of adventures. How will the legend be know show itself to be altered next? I’m honestly enjoying the stories thus far beyond the original curiosity, so this turns out to be a good choice thus far.
Next Time: Part Second, chapter 1: Little John And The Tanner Of Blyth
Why do I get the feeling this has nothing to do with someone working on their tan?