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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet the REAL Robin Hood!
Parke Godwin is one of our finest writers of historical fiction, and "Sherwood" is one of the two books which firmly cements that reputation (the other being the masterful "Firelord"). This retelling of the Robin Hood legend is a smashing success on virtually every level.
Forget Errol Flynn, green tights, and "Good" King Richard...
Published on September 14, 1999 by R. Isaacson

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly pedestrian effort considering earlier books.
This tale of Robin Hood, set in the immediate aftermath of the Norman Conquest (not the usual Robin Hoodian venue), is altogether slow and uninspiring -- quite a "come down" for the author of the Arthurian retelling: "Firelord". In Firelord, Godwin demonstrated a real knack w/prose and a marked ability to tell a quick & convincing historical tale...
Published on June 8, 1997


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet the REAL Robin Hood!, September 14, 1999
By 
R. Isaacson (Boston, Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sherwood (Paperback)
Parke Godwin is one of our finest writers of historical fiction, and "Sherwood" is one of the two books which firmly cements that reputation (the other being the masterful "Firelord"). This retelling of the Robin Hood legend is a smashing success on virtually every level.
Forget Errol Flynn, green tights, and "Good" King Richard. Godwin, with his characteristically thorough knowledge of historical setting, places his story at the advent of the Norman Conquest, almost a hundred years earlier. The wealth of historical detail provides both form and distinctive flavor to the tale; from the contents of a wayfarer's wallet to Saxon battle tactics, you are there! This works to great effect, and raises both the situational and emotional stakes of the book tremendously; indeed, William the Conqueror and Queen Matilda are characters of considerable importance, and by the end the reader will know them as well as any of the heroes. Godwin's Robin is no laughing adventurer; he is a pragmatic man who believes in simple justice, who is driven to become a hero by his need to protect his people and his refusal to accept laws and edicts "that ent right". Marian, far from a fluttering noblewoman, is strong, competent, loyal, and brave. The words 'loyal' and 'brave' also apply to Robin's nemesis Ralf Fitz-Gerald, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and this is one of the book's most fascinating (and satisfying!) aspects. We watch Ralf's story unfold right along with Robin's, and I found myself developing a real sympathy with this good man who does bad things. Not wishing to spoil the story, I will say no more about plot or characters, except to mention that Godwin's slightly unorthodox takes on other familiar names - Little John, Will Scarlet, Much, Friar Tuck, Alan-a-Dale - are no less riveting than his principals.
This is a perfect blend of historical accuracy and high adventure. Godwin's characters are real people, caught up in extraordinary circumstances and set on paths they never dreamed of. Along the way, there's courage, betrayal, blood, pain, romance, and glory. Read this book, and savor it. The Robin Hood legend might have really started this way; and if it didn't, it should have!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an interesting twist on the Robin Hood legend, January 3, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Sherwood (Paperback)
This version of Robin Hood is set at the time of the Norman Conquest rather than in the time of King Richard the Lion-hearted. The Sheriff of Nottingham is transformed into a Norman knight fighting for his own place in the world. The characters are well-drawn and memorable. I enjoyed the domestic portraits of William the Conqueror and his queen Matilda very much. Marian is no longer a ward of the king but a homeless refugee. Another strong female character, Judith was added. She is Robin Hood's cousin and speaks French and was educated on the Continent. Overall, I can recommend this book if you'd like to read another book about Robin Hood
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful new angle on the old story of Robin Hood., January 6, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Sherwood (Paperback)
Though it has not the same historical facts that most associate with the tale of Robin Hood it certainly captures your breath just the same. Very detailed descriptions create every seen in full,from the dark,dank dungen of hough to the peaceful pleasantry of Denby. The storyline keeps you at the edge of your seat with it's unexpected twists and turns. The book is a wonderful new angle on the old story of Robin Hood and a must read!!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced view of Robin Hood? Yes, and it works., August 1, 2008
This review is from: Sherwood (Paperback)
Parke Godwin's Sherwood is among the stack of books that I've owned seemingly forever, and I re-read every few years just for the joy of it. I'd argue that it's one of the best re-tellings of the Robin Hood tale (the other being The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley).

First, Godwin sets Robin Hood not during the usual "King Richard the Lionhearted" era but in a more interesting time: the Norman conquest and the years immediately following. Certainly, there's more inherent cultural friction between Saxons (including Robin, who's a thane of a small village), Normans (including the sheriff of Nottingham, Ralf), Danes and the occasional Welsh slave.

Second, Parke Godwin's books all have wonderful characterization, and he chooses to tell stories from non-obvious viewpoints (such as that of Guinevierre, after Arthur's death). In this one, the viewpoint characters shift around a bit, but the main stories are told by Robin (who discovers the concepts of justice and law), and sheriff Ralf (who has his own path to follow, from war to peacetime). Darnit, it *works.* Everyone makes reasonable and sensible decisions, even when they are (literally) at each other's throats. The love story is sweet but not cloying. Marian is no shrinking vine whose main role is to be prize on a pedestal; she's a strong woman (and marries Robin). (Maybe that's one of the reasons I like both this book and McKinley's.) And there's even an appealing cat.

It's told with humor, warmth, and the underlying assumption that everyone is doing the best he can with the information he has available at the time. Even the villains.

This is simply a great novel. Pick up a copy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly pedestrian effort considering earlier books., June 8, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Sherwood (Hardcover)
This tale of Robin Hood, set in the immediate aftermath of the Norman Conquest (not the usual Robin Hoodian venue), is altogether slow and uninspiring -- quite a "come down" for the author of the Arthurian retelling: "Firelord". In Firelord, Godwin demonstrated a real knack w/prose and a marked ability to tell a quick & convincing historical tale (set in legendary times) in a believable, yet contemporary-sounding, voice. Not so here. This Robin Hood character plods along, never leaping into life and burdened by the paces he must go through to advance a thumpingly dull plot. None of the characters, in fact, have much life and so there's not much to tell about them here -- so I won't bother. Suffice it to say that Robin and his companions had more fun in King Richard's time. Just ask Scott's Ivanhoe. -- Stuart W. Mirsky (mirsky@ix.netcom.com
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's the voice, October 7, 2009
This review is from: Sherwood (Hardcover)
The voice of Godwin's Robin rings in my head as human, compelling and true, without any of the prithees or other twitches that make me feel I've stumbled into a tacky, polyester renaissance faire. The setting in the Norman conquest seems right, and the human interactions authentic. This is one of my all-time, chills up-the-spine stay-up-all-night favorite reads, and I've been around a loooooooong time. Lest I sound like some crazed fan, this is the only Godwin novel I really like; the sequel and his other works don't engage me the way Sherwood did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reworking of a traditional story, April 9, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Sherwood (Paperback)
This book is a good read, but is also unique from a historical and literary sense as well. The characters remain the same, but have been transferred to the 11th century, during William the Conquerer's reign. The interest stems from the retelling of an all too familiar tale, and transforming it into something new. And since there is very little completely original material out there, this is extremely effective. From a literary point of view, this book is unique, because throughout it the story demonstrates how Edward of Denby (Robin) and the Sheriff are very similar men, almost like brothers, but are split because of the conflict, and conquering of England. An entertaining read, especially if your taste is historical fiction.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshingly different perspective on a much retold legend, September 4, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Sherwood (Paperback)
This book is a new treatment of an old legend. Keep in mind that it's historical 'fiction'. It is lengthy and developes slowly but smoothly, keeping you interest piqued. It is more believeable than the conventional tales of Robin Hood in that the characters are more human. No incarnations of pure evil, no saints. Just people trying to live their lives. This is not a book that you will want to read then donate to the local library. It stays on my shelves and will be read again.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intrigueing, January 18, 2000
By 
Nathan (Wilmington, DE United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sherwood (Paperback)
This book has a lot of ups and downs. From the start, it is clear that the author has done a huge amount of research on the time period (the Norman invasion of England in 1066), which helps most of the time to lend a real air to the story. Unfortunately, this occassionaly got a bit awkward when I as a reader wasn't as familiar with the history and lost track of what was going on.
The first hundred-odd pages of the book are very difficult to get through, switching once in a while briefly to a first person segment so you could see inside a characters head, or sometimes covering a few years in a few pages, so it feels like you are reading a history textbook.
Once you get past those first hundred pages, though, things really get going. Unfortunately, most of the characters aren't as real as the rich setting they were placed in. The most sympathetic character, Little John, is the one whome we see the least, Ralf, the bad-guy, seems like the good guy, and Robin is just running around making spontaneous random decisions. Other than those and Father Beorn, the characters are pretty if not dull, at least static and predictable.
In this regard, the book is somewhat like a Tom Clancy book. The author has the characters in there as a necessity, but he loses sight of them somewhat in favor of the story, the action, the big picture. The reader really gets a feel for what's going on all across the country all the time, the overall motivations if not for individuals then for the decisions of an entire population, and a feel for how life was lived in eleventh century England.
The reason I didn't give this book a three was that it kept me interested and informed. After getting through those first hundred pages, the book really doesn't want to be put down. If you enjoy history, I recommend this one, but if you're in it for the swords and sworcery, I'd skip it over.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Book, March 10, 2003
By 
Tagra "catana" (Robson, BC Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sherwood (Paperback)
I'm a self admitted Robin Hood fan. For some reason I love everything to do with this legend and Delve into every aspect of it when I find a new story.
This is my favorite fictional version of the legend so far. The characters have very distinct personalities, taking the well known characters in new directions, and the background is very believable. You really feel you are there. Despite bad reviews saying it wasn't "accurate" enough, I say: "It's a STORY!", and a good story at that. Accuracy is not a focus point in fiction, and even with the changes Park Godwin has made to the timeline, the world itself is very accurate.
Overall my favorite character in the story has to be Marion though. Far from the sterotype of damsel in distress that she so often gets shoved into, in this version, she's very self reliant and strong. In the sequel, she even gets to chase off some Normans on her own. Have to love that.
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Sherwood
Sherwood by Parke Godwin (Paperback - Aug. 1995)
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