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:
The FINAL Part
Recounting how Robin Hood met Guy Of Gisbourne In Sherwood Forest and of the famous fight between them. Also how Little John fell into the Sheriff’s hands through saving the life of three men. Likewise how Good King Richard of the Lion’s Heart came to Nottinghamshire and visited Robin Hood In Sherwood Forest.
Well, here we are at the penultimate (yes, I do like that word) chapter of our book. Now that we’re all caught up with the part left out of my copy it’s time to get ready to complete the book. Guy Of Gisborune is another character that made it into Hollywood and other TV versions of Robin Hood’s legend, in some cases replacing or becoming the Sheriff Of Nottingham. As far as King Richard we won’t meet him until next time so let’s see what the guy named Guy is going to do to our protagonists. (“Heroes” may be stretching things a bit.)
First let me remind you where we left off before our trip back through time. With the help of Sir Richard and the queen that you can kind of accuse of causing the whole mess (although most of the blame goes to the Bishop) Robin Hood barely escaped King Henry’s wrath. Has Robin learned anything from this? History brings that into doubt though the chapter starts with Robin admitting to not being so bold that he can’t escape into Sherwood by being too far away. Let’s see how long that lasts because although Henry had died and King Richard (always king in more modern telling but only now obtaining the crown in this book from the 1880s) is now upon the throne Robin and crew still have their share of enemies. Plus they’re pretty good at creating new ones.
I: Robin Hood And Guy Of Gisbourne
Time has passed since Hank’s death and Richard’s accession. (I don’t know what became of Elenore because I’m not a historian.) One day Robin and John decide to each take a path and see what trouble they get into because these two get into trouble like most people get into underpants. We start with Robin’s tale, in which young master Hood comes across a man just sitting near a tree and wearing thick horse hide…armor, I guess. I’m not sure but just from the description a smart person would probably just walk past. By now though we know that is not a description of Robin Hood. Clever yes, but clever doesn’t always mean smart. Turns out this is Guy Of Gisbourne and apparently he likes the killing very much. However, the Sheriff and Bishop have agreed to give him a pardon if he kills Robin, which is way too far. Apparently the Bible really should have told us what became of Barabbas because this seems just as dumb a move and the Bishop does operate out of the Pharisee handbook.
The set-up to the fight as Robin gets the strange to admit who he is and why he’s there is okay but it’s the fight that really matters. It’s only the second time Robin has been forced to kill someone, which makes it a decent bookend despite being the second to last chapter. The fight is rather amazing and I wonder how it would have looked if it had been performed. I’ve seen variants of Guy in movies and TV on the rare occasion he shows up in a version of Robin Hood that I’ve viewed but he may have been the most wrong depiction of any of them, and that’s only because they’ve had the wrong king for most of the story with no evil Prince to speak of. Well, promising to pardon a vicious murderer if he kills Robin is a step too far when you happen to be Robin and this is going to go badly for someone.
However, we switch over to Little John for a moment. On his trek he comes upon a widow whose sons were taken away because one hunted the king’s deer and the other two wouldn’t snitch on him. (Was there any deer NOT owned by the King? For that matter what would the kind need with deer in an area he didn’t live? I don’t think it was a nature preserve situation. This is why I’m anti-royalty.) When this book started the Sheriff was a jerk but it seems in his last two showings he’s become the villain we know him as. Yes, hanging Will Stutley, or at least trying to, for his crimes was harsh but he wasn’t the main villain of the story, just the first and most reoccurring. He was about revenge and reward but now he’s hiring hitmen to go after Robin and hanging young men for poaching. We’ve also seen him willing to screw over a butcher and a wronged knight. His presence in this story isn’t nearly as big as it is in modern interpretations but we have seen him go further and further over the line with each appearance.
John comes up with a clever plan to free the men but gets himself caught. At that point Robin, in disguise as Guy because disguises are how they do things (a disguise was part of Little John’s plan as well) manages to help his friend escape, but the Sheriff and his men head for the hills when they see who it really is. Little John gets him in the butt with an arrow though, and at this point I’m on their side. The Sheriff is becoming quite drunk with both power and rage. When the Sheriff was willing to hand John over to whom he thought was Guy even his men had second thoughts. I hope this means his days are numbered, if not among the living then hopefully as Sheriff.
This was probably the best chapter of the whole book, but there’s one more to go, plus a short epilogue. We’ll tackle them both and end our visit in Nottingham town in our final installment of this book review series.
Next time: King Richard Cometh To Sherwood Forest