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Maid Marian: A Novel Hardcover – April 13, 2004


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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400050413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400050413
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,160,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Light and entertaining, if occasionally cloying, this debut novel presents an account of Maid Marian, the legendary romantic interest of Robin Hood. An orphaned heiress, Lady Marian Fitzwater struggles against scheming, duplicitous relatives for the right to her own lands. At age five she is married to Hugh of Sencaster, who dies suddenly and under dubious circumstances, when she is 17 and before the marriage is consummated. As an orphan, Marian is a ward of the king, England's beloved Richard the Lionheart. But both Richard's powerful mother, Queen Eleanor, and the mother of Marian's dead husband, Lady Pernelle, want her hastily remarried so that her lands and fortune may be seized. Marian decides to enlist the help of Robin Hood and his band of populist outlaws to intercept correspondence and see what plans are being made for her. With Robin's help, she discovers that she is now promised to Hugh's brother, Sir Stephen, and realizes that her life will be in jeopardy once she is married to Stephen and her lands secured. Robin, now enamored, helps Marian escape days before the menacing second marriage. Their relationship deepens, developing into rather treacly love ("I strode off with Robin the following day with a song in my heart"). The book comes alive in its last act, when Marian returns, disguised as a servant, to Lady Pernelle, in a plan to regain control of her lands and her future. While readers are asked to suspend disbelief (can we really believe that because Marian hennas her hair her former mother-in-law won't recognize her?), the tight plotting, intrigue and battles with the devious royals give page-turning momentum to the story's conclusion.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Watson provides an intriguing new twist on an old legend in this reworking of the classic Robin Hood tale. Narrated by a refreshingly bold and independent Maid Marian, the familiar story is retold from a woman's point of view. Virtually sold into marriage by a scheming Eleanor of Aquitaine, Marian Fitzwater enjoys a brief moment of liberty when her teenage husband dies under mysterious circumstances. Her sense of personal fulfillment is short-lived, however, as Marian realizes that another loveless mercenary marriage is being arranged for her. Traveling to Sherwood Forest to seek assistance from the notorious outlaw known as Robin Hood, she hatches a scheme to win her freedom. Meeting as intellectual and spiritual equals, Marian and Robin forge an instant bond that deepens from friendship into love. As the two lovers join forces to thwart the queen, who wields tremendous influence during Richard's absence, a romantic new chapter in the Robin Hood mythology is written. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Marian spends her time telling us about them, not really involved with them until the end.
Iris
Watson did a great job describing what life was like during this time period while telling a great story using interesting characters.
4JTL
Everyone knows the story of Robin Hood, but until now Maid Marian has been a sidekick and romantic interest.
King JJ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "literary-piglet" on May 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book, not only for the story but also for the warm, rich voice in which it is told.
I hate books with perfect protagonists who adventure along being better than everyone else. In Marian, Watson has created a lovely and very human spirit--not a bionic uber-heroine. With a cinematic eye, Watson draws the reader into a bright and romantic landscape populated by authentic and interesting characters. Watson's judicious use of historical detail goes a long way toward building the world of the novel without being overbearing or dry. The overall effect is an extremely readable book, appropriate for a broad range of readers, that leaves you with a sense of having vacationed in a green and wonderful spot out of time and having befriended a handful of warm and remarkable individuals there.
"Maid Marian" reminded me a bit of "The Mists of Avalon," which is a good thing. The book itself is beautiful, too, in keeping with the story.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A few years ago, it seemed like everyone was telling the legend of King Arthur from Guinevere's point of view. Now another famous maiden from history and legend tells her own story in MAID MARIAN, a lightly entertaining and romantic tale.
Marian Fitzwater, the orphaned child of noble parents, lives under the watchful, and ruthless, eye of Queen Eleanor. Married at age five to her childhood companion Hugh, Marian grows up in the royal household, quietly learning not only how to be a noblewoman but also how to exploit her noble position for her own gain.
When her teenaged husband is killed before their marriage is ever consummated, Marian slyly negotiates a bargain that grants her some freedom --- at least for a little while. The young woman, who has grown up hearing tales of the dashing Robin Hood, travels with her childhood nurse to find the mysterious outlaw in the hopes that he can help her escape yet another arranged marriage, this time potentially fatal.
Marian expects that Robin Hood and his Merry Men can help her gain information that can secure her liberty. What she doesn't expect is to fall in love with the leader of that merry band. Despite their political differences, which sometimes result in fierce arguments between the sharp-tongued duo, the lovers hatch a plan that will outsmart the conniving nobility once and for all.
First-time novelist Elsa Watson constructs her tale with charm and easy grace, cleverly inserting well-known tales of the Merry Men into her own narrative. Maid Marian's voice is appropriately formal, as befits her noble upbringing. This elevated diction, though, means that Marian's growing feelings of love for Robin are expressed in language that sometimes feels stilted rather than genuine.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By 4JTL on June 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! This story is, in a way, Marian's journey through her discovery of her strengths and weaknesses. She is a strong heroine who is not unreal because of her perfection. She is a real person living in a unique time in history with something to share with all of us! The story was enjoyable and historically based. Watson did a great job describing what life was like during this time period while telling a great story using interesting characters. I loved it and can't wait for Watson's next book!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy historical novels from time to time and a friend recommended Maid Marian to me. It's a fast read, with lots of neat twists and turns and very snappy dialogue that is still totally in keeping with the period. The author does an excellent job of depicting England during the 1100s, including the deep split between the Saxon and Norman cultures, and the dailylives of both the nobility and the common people. Marian is an engaging and thoughtful character, with a sharp and curious mind and a sense of humor and wonder that doestn't fade as the novel progresses. This is also a very readable light romance, without any of the usual cliches or silliness. My 15 year old daughter also enjoyed this book, and I felt totally comfortable sharing it with her.
A very accomplished first novel, with a terrific medieval setting and truly likeable characters. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Julieosis on December 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Orphaned and married off at the age of 5, Marian Fitzwater is awakened during the night of her 15th birthday, the day of which she was to move to her husband's castle, to be told that he has just died.

As an unmarried woman with land attached to her name, she is now not only a very desirable catch, but now a pawn in the Queen of England's strategic chess game to supposedly turn all of England to her son, King Richard's favor. The catch is, Marian has no intentions of being married off to the highest bidder.

By seeking out the notorious Robbin Hood of Sherwood Forest to aid her, Marian finds out that she is to be wed to the younger brother of her now late husband, a child several years her junior. However, it is not the man she's worried about, but his power-hungry mother whom she noticed at her first husband's funeral had surprisingly dry eyes...especially considering the mysterious circumstances as to how he died...

Marian pleads to Robbin Hood to help her escape this dreadful marriage contract and save not only herself, but her lands from being snatched up and destroyed.

For as good as it sounded, this book was not all it's cracked up to be. I found the writing style to be tedious at times, and even though I wanted to get to the end of the book to find out what happened, I sort of already knew. The plot was predictable and at times, tiresome. I found it to be a very large "fluff" read, fun but not much substance behind it.

The book is told in first person from Marian's POV, and therefore we get to know surprisingly little about the other characters. Though it was refreshing to hear the story of Robbin Hood from an alternative point of view, it wasn't exceptionally engaging and made me roll my eyes a little at times.
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