The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

Read: 24 November, 2010

When we found out we were having a son, I started reviewing my planned reading lists for gender-interest. That’s when I realized that my knowledge of “boy books” is woefully inadequate. I have oodles of “strong willed girl finds her place in society as she transitions into womanhood” books – more than enough to fill any childhood. I certainly want my son to be exposed to these kinds of books, but I realized that I was going to have to expand my repertoire to include at least some books that aren’t about girls getting their first periods if I was going to make a life-long reader out of this kid.

I decided to start with the classics of boy’s literature, and that’s how I ended up reading Robin Hood.

It was fantastic! Even though there was a serious lack of menstruation, there was more than enough exciting adventure to compensate.

The book is told as a series of short stories that build on each other only very loosely. Each one is an adventure involving Robin Hood and his companions; many of them tell how a particular individual came to join Robin Hood’s gang.

The stories are exciting and full of action (and more than a little violence). They are also full of witty arguments, which are often very clever and funny. I found myself laughing out loud more than a few times!

Robin Hood is a sort of trickster figure, often seen playing pranks on others that sometimes backfire.

It’s a great book! I’ll definitely be recommending it to my son once he’s at least put diapers behind him. It’s a children’s book, but it’s certainly worth the reading for adults too!

PS: Given what I knew already of the Robin Hood legends, I was surprised to find out that Maid Marian is such a non-character – at least in this rendition. She’s mentioned a few times as Robin’s girlfriend, but that’s the extent of it. I don’t think she even makes an appearance in the story, and we certainly never learn any biographical details about her!

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Mistress of the Art of Death #4: A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

Read: 24 June, 2010

Adelia Aguilar has been enjoying a simple life with her daughter and friends, but King Henry II has come for her again. This time, he needs her to accompany his sister, Joanna, to Sicily. To ensure that Adelia returns when the task is completed, he keeps her daughter in England as a hostage. As the procession makes its way, strange things start to happen and Adelia is suspected of witchcraft.

There isn’t much to say about this that hasn’t been said for the last three books. If you’ve enjoyed the last three, you’ll enjoy this one too.

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Mistress of the Art of Death #3: Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin

Read: 21 November, 2009

Two bodies have been found in Glastonbury, and King Henry II sends Adelia Aguilar to confirm that the two mysterious skeletons belong to King Arthur and his lady Guinevere. If Henry can prove once and for all that Arthur is nothing more than a pile of bones, it will crush the Celt rebellion for good.

But things are never quite so simple. What should have been just a short trip to identify some remains quickly turns into a life or death struggle for Adelia and her companions.

Grave Goods is another excellent addition to the Mistress of the Art of Death series. Adelia is still something of a Mary Sue, but the plot is so interesting that this is quickly forgotten.

Throughout the series, I’ve been particularly impressed with the portrayal of Henry II. It certainly isn’t one that I’d seen before.

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