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, we’ve finally come to the end of the book. It’s been an interesting journey seeing how much of the original lore Hollywood got wrong in crafting the iconic Robin Hood legend most people know, and frankly the original may be more interesting. True, Robin isn’t the clean cut boy we thought he was but neither is he up against the evil stand-in ruler because he lost his wealth. Instead he’s a guy who still went up against corrupt officials but his own moral center was up for debate. There’s more nuance to him, and although I do tend to gravitate to the cleaner heroes these adventures were at times more fun to analyze. Plus you think that in a period where writers loved making “flawed” heroes they’d go back to this older interpretation. Then again, I don’t understand the cynical sad sacks that writers are becoming so who knows?
Last week we saw Robin in his only second ever kill, against a man so evil he had no choice in a fight that is begging for an on-screen appearance if the director is willing to let the fight happen instead of shakycam close-ups. Enough about Hollywood, let’s see how the actual book ends.
II: King Richard Cometh To Sherwood Forest (plus the two page epilogue)
So it comes to pass that King Richard, whom you may recall last time replaced King Henry, came to visit Nottingham, and it was a major event. There was a lot of setting up and decorating and even the men of Sherwood came to see him arrive, which didn’t make the Sheriff happy but he decided to allow them to not be noticed by anyone else. It didn’t help him or the Bishop that the King wanted to hear all about this Robin Hood. That night he decided he really wanted to meet this band, and Sir Herbert had the perfect plan: get himself robbed. In disguise of course, but that is the best way to meet Robin Hood.
Sure enough, in their guise Richard and his disguised companions were “invited” to Robin’s outdoor inn and they seemed to be having fun. Robin sets up an archery contest at the “patron’s” request and sets a rule that if you miss the target Will Scarlet gets to sock you one. An odd rule but what else is new with this lot? Surprisingly Robin is one of the ones to miss his target, but rather than get knocked down by his nephew he thinks that this forced visitor might have an easier punch. This visitor I remind you is King Richard, who had fought in war, so naturally Robin soon finds himself flat on his back. Given previous history I think this means Richard’s going to be invited to join the band.
Actually, the King is the one doing the recruiting. Sir Richard (the knight from previous adventures, not the King) arrives to warn Robin and ends up blowing the King’s cover. He’s not happy to see this knight willing to hide a outlaw but due to all Robin did for him even his son, who is part of Richard’s hidden group, speaks up in defense. However the King is actually not upset for he came to not only pardon the band but hire Robin, Little John, and Will Scarlet to his royal guard, bringing along Allan as well as hiring the others to protect the forest rather than ravage it. That’s certainly one way to end a crime spree and Robin and company did say they would pledge their lives to the King. They also said that about Henry so at least it ends better than the last time Robin met a King of England. The epilogue shows a happy ending for everyone, but Robin and Allan didn’t return to Sherwood for a long time. THIS is where Robin becomes the Earl of Huntington, so it’s not case of having his title restored but getting one in the first place.
It’s a surprisingly happy ending given the band’s encounters with royalty in the past, but it seems to be a bit convenient. In the more modern telling Robin and crew are fighting a potential usurper who is using his brother’s absence to work over the people, but here while the Sheriff, Bishop, and Emmet are bad guys, and that goes double for Guy of Gisborne and that one guy who robbed people blind, Robin was pretty much the lesser evil at best. I guess the King either was happy about Guy’s death (not knowing the Sheriff and Bishop hired him to take out Robin in exchange for a pardon) or learned that Robin’s initial crime was one of self-defense. They didn’t take any other lives and tried to do well with at least some of their ill-gotten gains. Do you know what else strikes me though? No marriage to Maid Marian. That’s how this story usually ends but outside of some minor mentions that could just be a reference like many of the other dropped names in this book she’s a non-entity. How did she rise to being Robin’s true love in more modern versions? I guess the same way Friar Tuck became a fat comic relief character who could barely fight. There is so much of the lore that is far different from the original incarnation, and the original version of this book was itself a few centuries removed from the earliest tales so I have to wonder what Howard Pyle changed outside of introducing Tuck and at least the name of Marian? Were I more interested in the legend I might look into that, but I only read these books because I had them, and as I assume I’ll get into more in the Clutter Report review on Sunday I’m glad I did. Overall this was an enjoyable read, and since it’s in public domain the links above will allow you to read it too and it is worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of the various incarnations in TV, movies, comics, and animation that have come since.
Next week I begin 2020 with a new book. It’s another superhero story, but I think this one is original and comes from the other company than the last one. Join me next week and make sure you have plenty of web fluid handy because New York isn’t going to swing around itself.