Not surprisingly, Nottingham is a novel about Robin Hood and his merry men. But not your ordinary tale of Robin, Little John,Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck and the chaste and beautiful Maid Marion and their struggle against the evil that permeated the county they live in. The author has written quite an interesting version of the legend of Robin.
Instead of complete evil being faced by overwhelming good, Makaryk postulates a story involving people with real motives and why their actions could have led to the tale of Robin being what it is.
In the first place, there is no evidence that Robin Hood and his band ever really existed although the author has done research into the mid 1100’s in England, the period ascribed to Robin Hood and used some of the facts he unearthed in the story.
The story begins at a point where Robin of Locksley and his friend William are serving in the army of king Richard during his crusade in the holy land. They are taking part at the siege of the city of Acre, and planning a near future attack on Jerusalem against the forces of Saladin. During the fight at Acre, it is discovered that a shipment of new weapons needed by Richard if he is to continue to fight has been lost in transit. Robin and William are sent back by Richard to find these weapons and deliver them to the army.
The men detached, on the temporary assignment, find themselves in the midst of problems in and around Nottingham with the current Sheriff unwilling to do anything about it. He is too nice and does not want to offend anyone. Robin and William decide that they have to take care of the problem and dive right in. Robin meets up with his long time lady love Marion and as before they talk about marriage when there is time. William also meets a young lady whose family has become destitute and she must take a servant’s position at Locksley castle. Robin attracts a group of citizens that want to help solving the problems facing Nottingham and follow him into Sherwood forest where they begin robbing rich people riding through. Since Marion is there the author comes up with the basis for the term merry men in relation to Robin’s band. Since Marion had a hand in organizing them they became known as Marion’s men. This is one of the examples of possible fact turning into the source of glorified fiction and creating the legend. There are many other instances where what did happen turns into what is thought to have happened.
Nottingham is a novel that will keep the reader interested and is appropriate for anyone that has read the books and seen the movies dealing with the Robin Hood legend. The length of the book keeps it from being an all nighter and there is a bit too much description of the events that could have turned real life into legend.
Recommendation – read the book, it is different enough in its presentation to the legend making it an interesting read.
8/19 Paul Lane
NOTTINGHAM by Nathan Makaryk. Forge Books (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-1250195609. 496p.