Will Scarlett, outlaw, wolf’s head, violently tempered right hand man to Robin Hood, has been pardoned for his many sins and crimes but cannot find peace within. Donning the robes and tonsured hairstyle, he becomes a monk. In a wonderful bit of story telling, the author has taken an account of a troublesome group of monks who basically disregarded their vows and ran wild, causing strained relations between the townsfolk and the local abbey. Brother Scaflock(Scarlett) finds that old habits die hard even as he begins to find some of the peace he’s been seeking. A tension filled tale worthy of being the final episode in the author’s very fine Robin Hood series, The Forest Lord. 4.3 stars
A delightful short featuring John Little or Little John as he is more famously known as. A night out with friends, lots of ale and food, and a group of mean looking mercenaries bent on mayhem. A pleasant night goes awry but have the mercenaries taken on more than they can handle? An imaginative bit of writing at the end had me thinking, “clever, Mr. McKay, very clever indeed.”
Robin has been pardoned, he is no longer an outlaw; indeed he is even working for the law now. He is reunited with his wife and son. Life is good, Robin should be a happy man. But alas, conflicted feelings about his job and how harmful the enforcement of the law can be and increasing tension at home rears over his job as well. The finale of this engrossing set of tales brings together Robin and what’s left of his old gang to pursue and destroy an enemy who is out for revenge against them. Plus there is another old score waiting to be settled by a most loathsome churchman. Taut, tense and full of action and surprises, Mr. McKay gives the reader an entertaining and fitting end to his Robin Hood series. My only, well, make that two complaints, is that the tension in some spots is such that I had to put the book down and take a breath or two (not that this is a bad thing)..and two – that the series is done. I commend the author on how he brings it to a close…that’s all I will say about that…you need to read it to find out. 🙂 5 stars and the highly sought after Hoover Book Reviews – “You Gotta Read This Series” award.
Friar Tuck is hiding under an assumed name having run afoul of a powerful member of the church hierarchy and finds himself living in a small village that is being plagued by visits from demons and devils. The author has given us and Tuck a mystery to solve; one that has the good Friar utilizing all of his skills, both mental and physical to rid the village of the cloven-hoofed, horned devil. The tale is well told with a steady pace, action aplenty, and a deeper look into the character of Tuck. Couple that with a fine Christmas feast and you have a 5 star winner.
Just when things are such that Robin can spend time with his family, old and dangerous foes combine forces and the Wolf and his band of outlaws find themselves facing their greatest challenge to survive. This is the third volume in The Forest Lord series and it is a continuation of the excellence exhibited in the first two. The author has given us a tale that is hard to put down, filled with riveting action and tense drama. The characters shine throughout, from the ebullient Tuck, the imposing presence of John Little, the unrelenting stare of Will Scarlett, the love and devotion of Matilda (Robin’s wife)and the coming of age of Marjorie (Robin’s sister). There are also the dramatic twists of plot and fate of some who live and die in a hard and cruel world. I will not engage in spoilers so you’ll have to believe me when I say there is some sorrow involved but like I said, it was a hard existence being an outlaw. Well, okay one spoiler, the author has promised a fourth volume. 🙂 5 stars
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Another first for me as I have never reviewed a short story and found it a bit more difficult to do than for a full length novel. This story is a bit of a departure from the author’s two excellent novels about Robin Hood as the subject is The Knights Hospitaller and has an element of fantasy as well though it does feature Sir Richard-at-Lee who does appear in Wolf’s Head and The Wolf and the Raven. It takes place on the island of Rhodes and concerns the mysterious disappearance of many people on the island including some of the Hospitaller personnel. It seems that an ancient evil has arisen, the god Dagon and he requires sacrifices of the most heinous kind. Sir Richard is charged with the task of searching out what is causing the disappearances. I found the story to be very entertaining and the action/plot twists to be exciting and well written. The scenes involving the rites of the evil Dagon to be as grisly as one would hope and the fears of those involved in the rooting out of this cult to be very real and thus makes for an excellent tale. 5 stars.
The Lancastrian revolt is over. Those who opposed the King are now outlaws and are being pursued with a vengeance. This is especially true for Robin Hood and his men as they are once more wolf’s heads high on the list of the King’s main huntsman, Sir Guy Gisbourne; The Raven. In this, the second volume in Steven McKay’s series on the famed outlaw, the author has crafted a tale of intrigue, bravery and betrayal. He has also continued the development of his characters, the old and the new. In particular his portrayals of Little John and Will Scarlet have gone up a notch as they help Robin overcome some very nasty treatment at the hands of Sir Guy; one of the new characters who the author has imbued with a streak of super-villain like viciousness.
The action is exciting, well thought out and is interspersed with many touching scenes…e.g. Sir Richard at Lee and his captor, a relative nobody from the village. The detailed descriptions of the forest scenes lend a nice touch to this exciting sequel. I heartily recommend this series and look forward to the third book. My rating for this is 4.7.