Title: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Author: Howard Pyle
Genre: Classics, Fiction
Date Finished: 12 May 2009
My Rating: 4 Stars
Challenges: 100+, Spring, Decades, Classics, RYOB, New Author
My son has recently developed an interest in all things Robin Hood. I was searching for some juvenile level books that I could read to him when I discovered that there are a number of versions of the Robin Hood legend floating around. I decided, in addition to reading the juvenile versions to my son, it would be fun to read some of the longer novelizations and compare them. I picked up Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood first but it was not until I arrived home with my book that I realized Pyle was very much an American. I thought it ironic that my first dip into the Robin Hood legend, a very British legend, should be written by an American.
All the characters that have become familiar, at least in name, through various movie and TV versions of the tale were present and accounted for: Friar Tuck, Will Scarlett, Little John, Allan a Dale etc. Pyle tells each character's story and how they came to be a part of Robin's band of Merry Men.
I thought it was interesting that Robin was just a yeoman who got into trouble for killing one of the sheriff's cousins and not a noble returning from the crusades (once upon a time I loved Kevin Costner's Robin Hood a little too much.) Apparently, some of the legends paint Robin as a yeoman and some as a wealthy man and Pyle went with the yeoman version for his retelling. Adds more to the everyman idea of Robin Hood, I think. Pyle also painted a more restrained Robin who only killed twice in the story, once at the beginning when he becomes an outlaw and again later when he faces Guy of Gisbourne, who is out to kill Robin.
One other interesting note is that Maid Marian is only mentioned once in the entire narrative and then only in passing. I am interested to see if she plays a bigger role in the next book I read.
I really enjoyed reading this tale of Robin Hood. I found the prose enjoyable and different from what I normally read. Lots of laughs, and definitely lots of action as Robin gathers his band, outwits the sheriff and becomes a hero through his "redistribution of the wealth."
I must not forget to mention the illustrations, which really added to this book. Pyle was an accomplished artist and his illustrations really add a great dimension to his story. If you do read Pyle's version of the Robin Hood legend, be sure you find a copy that includes the illustrations.