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A half-serious attempt to re-create in fiction what may be the reality underlying the legend, based on the earliest sources (before 1450).
The oldest sources of the legend of Robin Hood are eight ballads (counting "The Gest of Robin Hood" as four) dating before 1450. One source of The Robin Hood Chronicles is these ballads. In one of them a King Edward visits northern England and makes Robin a yeoman of his court. This can only be Edward II, who was in the north of England in 1323.
The court records of Edward II show that a Robin Hood served him in 1323. Other documents of the period give further information about this Robin's life. This information was also used in developing The Robin Hood Chronicles.
Once the chronological period in which Robin Hood lived has been established, English history of that period provides a background for his story.
This gives us a Robin Hood unlike any other in the books and movies about Robin Hood. Robin is on Barnsdale Heath, not in Sherwood Forest. There is no Maid Marian; Robin has a wife in Wakefield named Mathilda.
The King and his guardsmen cast off their cowls, and Robin saw that the King, instead of a tonsure, wore a golden circlet on his head, and that his eight companions were helmeted. The false churchmen unbelted their robes to show that they wore hauberks beneath them. From the gold circlet Robin knew that he stood in the presence of his sovereign. It gave him a strange feeling. On the one hand, here was a man he had fought against when he wore the colors of Lancaster. Here was the man whose Sheriffs were Robin's mortal enemy. But on the other, here was the man God Himself had made to rule over him. So emotions conflicted within him.
Frank de Caro, Louisiana State U
Stories of the great English outlaw Robin Hood have long been a staple of fiction, and Sam Sackett's novel The Robin Hood Chronicles is an intriguing addition to this famous body of literature. Readers will appreciate how the novel sketches in the tale by following the accounts of the early Robin Hood ballads, adding in the conjectures of historians and the proven facts of historical background. They will enjoy how folklorist Sackett, working from fragmentary folklore to full-bodied narrative, not only suggests the language of medieval times (perhaps reminding us just a bit of Chaucer), but also provides a full (and readable) modern picture of a legendary figure.
Robert White, Chairman, World Wide Robin Hood Society
Numerous books have been written abou Robin Hood ove the years, but Sam Sackett's new work takes a fresh approach to the subject by effectively combining the limited historical facts and the early ballads to tell the tale. The result is an intriguingly different picture of the English folk hero that cleverly weaves known references from doculented resources into a plausible and imaginative account of the outlaw's life.
With just the right blend of assumption and invention Professor Sackett binds the narrative into a cohesive chronology that masterfully manages to convey a ring of truth.
Some readers might initially find difficulty with the pseudo-medieval language, and some historians may take issue with Sackett's interpretation of the facts, but all in all The Robin Hood Chronicles offers a new dimension on the legend that is well worth a read. It may not appeal to those who hold the traditional story and characters close to their hearts, but for those willing to be a little more adventurous in seeking the elusive truth it offers a thought-provoking alternative version.
The only significant criticism that I would make is that I felt the informative "Afterword" would have served a better purpose if it had been used as an explanatory "Foreword"!
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