a review of Holy Warrior by Angus Donald

Robin Hood, Robin Hood
Riding through the glen.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood
With his band of men.
Feared by the bad, loved by the good.
Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood.

(lyrics  written by American composer Carl Sigman.)

Oh that catchy tune from the old Robin Hood TV show starring Richard Greene.  That was the Robin Hood I grew up with.  That is not the Robin Hood of this magnificent series by Angus Donald.  In this, the second book, Holy Warrior, we find Robin and his merry men as part of King Richard’s retinue on Crusade to free Jerusalem from the Saracens.  This despite Robins total disdain for the Christian Church but as a man of honor he is bound to his word.

Once again the tale is told in the voice of Alan Dale, personal musician or trouvere to Robin as well as one of his most trusted advisers.  Alan is an old man as he recounts his adventures with Robin.  I really enjoy the way the author has Alan not only reminiscent but also has him paint his life as a respected Lord of a manor.  This also affords Alan a chance to bare his soul about some of the horror he has witnessed or even helped commit.

The first part of the book revolves largely around Robin and Alan stuck in a siege by Christians against Jews in York.  The climatic finish to this chapter is just one more grim reminder of the dangers of dogmatic religious  hatred.  The author does not shy away from the portrayal of the brutality and malice born of the  fear and ignorance of the peasantry and also of the greedy, glory seeking nobility and church.  Twas indeed a brutal time to be on the wrong side of bias.

Assassins, intrigues, you name it, the author has it going full blazes throughout the story.  The characters of Robin and Alan reveal more and more of their true selves during the course of this second installment.  It will be of great interest and pleasure to discover how these two survive not only the perils of the age but also the perils of their differences.

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