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“But these are mad times. And the people are desperate for more than food or coin. Why do you think all Nottingham already knows Will’s story of a man returned from the grave to defend and aid his people? I’ve spent my life as a minstrel. I know when an audience demands a hero,” Alan. –Sherwood
by Meagan Spooner
AR Test, Strong Female Character
Robin of Locksley is dead.
Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé. Who is there to stop them?
Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.
Marian is a captivating protagonist who struggles with deciding what is right and wrong, just and unjust. As a girl, Marian has always struggled to fit into her society because she would rather wield a sword than wait for a knight-in-shining-armor to save her. Even though Marian’s society expects her to act like a lady, Marian knows she will never fit into the typical female mold. One of the reasons Marian loved Robin of Locksley is because he never asked her “to be someone she’s not.”
Even though Robin of Locksley died in the story’s prologue, his voice is not silent. When Marian first dons Robin’s cloak, Robin’s voice guides her. Flashbacks to Robin’s and Marian’s childhood also develop both characters’ personalities. As the story progresses, Robin’s voice recedes into the background, and Marian wonders if she ever really knew Robin. Despite this, Marian deeply misses Robin’s friendship and appreciates that he never tried to change her.
Sherwood quickly grabs the reader’s attention and keeps the suspense high until the very end. The story is full of sword fights, chases, and secrecy. Spooner creates wonderfully complex characters that cannot be judged based on their appearances or their station in life. Readers will fall in love with Marian’s ragtag group of followers as they fight for justice. Through this fight, the story questions whether the law is just. Gisborne is dedicated to the law, but even he realizes “the law will never be just. Perhaps it can come close—so close the line is hard to see. But laws are written by men, who are imperfect by nature, and justice belongs to something beyond the power of men.”
The action-packed conclusion contains several surprises but also ends with a heartfelt scene that will leave readers in tears. In the end, Sherwood is a story that will stay with readers for a long time after they put down the book. Marian’s story reinforces the idea that each person needs to be true to themselves. Even though you cannot fight today’s problems with a bow and arrow, Sherwood encourages you to make an impact on the people around you.
- While confronting Marian (who Gisborne thinks is a man), Gisborne said, “You’re of noble birth. Disgraced one too many times with the household servants or else a bastard son banished when you came of age.”
- Seild, one of Marian’s friends, is in an unhappy marriage. Seild says her husband “prefers the company of women who are too afraid to refuse him.”
- Robin Hood tells Seild’s husband, “Only a coward leaves his wife alone while he forces himself on the servants.”
- After Gisborne shares part of his personal life with Marian, she kisses him. “Her lips met his too strongly, the sudden need for him turning her clumsy. . . He held her a moment longer, eyes falling to her lips—and then he bent his head to kiss her. His mouth met her gently at first, but when she leaned close, when her lips parted, when he slipped an arm around her and felt her back arch, he abandoned gentility as utterly as the rest of the façade he’d worn for so many years. . . Her hips moved, tipping up like a beckoning finger, and when he felt her swell toward him he tore his mouth from hers . . . “ The steamy scene is described over two pages.
- After Marian and Gisborne jump into a river and survive, Gisborne kisses her. “He was kissing the tears from her cheeks when he realized she was shivering, and not from his touch.”
- During a war, Robin tries to protect the king. The enemy “must have killed the sentries in silence. . . Something thuds into Robin’s shoulder, sending him off balance, and he whirls, searching for the blade he knows is coming. . . It’s then that he feels the fiery lance of pain racing down his biceps and he gasps, sword dangling uselessly from his shoulder.”
- Even though he is injured, Robin uses his arrow to save the king. “And then a blade crunches into Robin’s side and he’s knocked down against the stone with the force of the blow. He cannot move, cannot feel anything below his rib cage—there is no pain.” Robin dies. The battle is described over four pages.
- While in the forest, Marian is attacked. “She saw a thick, blunt branch swinging out of the darkness towards her face. She moved without thought. . .The cudgel came at her again, its wielder a shadowy, wild shape that danced in her half-stunned vision.” When Marian pulls her sword, the man stops because “he was afraid.” Marian realizes that the man is Will.
- Will and Marian continue to fight. “She dropped the weapon as his body collided with hers, and her world narrowed to a frantic staccato of gasps and grunts. . . And then Will got to his feet, and in his hand was Marian’s sword. . . she ducked easily when he rushed her, twisting so that she could land a jab of her elbow into his arm below the shoulder.”
- During the fight, Marian “struck out at the back of [Will’s] head, momentum half spinning him so she could ready a second blow. But before she could strike, his knees crumpled and he dropped to the ground. . .” Marian ends up saving Will’s life.
- Marian goes into the forest looking for Will. Two men see her and try to steal from her. While on horseback, Marian tries to run down the thief. “John, now flailing in the leaves, had dropped his staff – Marian threw herself down and snatched it up. . . She had the staff’s tip against Little John’s throat before he could stand.”
- While disguised as Robin, Marian meets Gisborne. “But then something kindled in Gisborne’s dark eyes, a flash of decision or ferocity, and her instinct took over. She swung her blade up in time to deflect his blow, the clang of steel on steel bringing her back to herself.” After a brief scuffle, Marian runs.
- Marian, disguised as Robin, hears fighting in the forest. She finds Little John “surrounded by a swarm of the Sheriff’s men. . . Every so often he landed a blow that sent one reeling back, but there were more men than could gather round him at once. . . Gisborne strode up, holding John’s staff, and swung it in a massive arc at John’s head. John grunted and dropped to his knees, his eyes glazed. . .” John passes out because of his injuries.
- After Marian helps John, a man leaped out at Marian, and “his fist slammed into her stomach. . . She staggered back, all the air driven from her lungs. . . The world around her grew dim, the green-gold of afternoon fading into a deep velvety gray twilight.”
- Marian as Robin flees from the castle. However, Gisborne chases her. “. . . A hand shot out of the drizzle and slammed into her shoulder. She skidded backward, breath driven from her lungs as she hit the wall. . . Dazed, ears ringing, she forced her eyes to focus in time to see the hand coming at her again. . . She ducked, and twisted, and grabbed for the arm as it passed her, and threw all her weight against the body the arm was attached to and sent it into the wall with a sickening thud.”
- Marian plans her own kidnapping. After “Robin” drops off the ransom notice, she tries to escape from Gisborne. Gisborne “was moving, lunging at her with shocking speed. . . and then something wrapped around her throat and hauled her backward, chocking. Gisborne had the edge of her cloak, and with a second heave he flung her down to the ground and rolled on top of her . . .” Robin “swung its hilt with all her strength into the side of Gisborne’s head. . .” Robin escapes. The scuffle is described over three pages.
- While robbing a wealthy man, Robin and her men cut the horses’ traces so the carriage stopped moving. “Little John felled one of the remaining guards with one sweep of his staff, and by the time the other guard reached for his sword, Marian was standing in front of him, bow drawn, arrow just a breath away from his nose.” No one is seriously injured.
- Seild’s husband, Owen, raises his hand to strike her. Robin Hood shoots an arrow. “Its point pierced Owen’s hand in the dead center of his palm, causing the man to stagger back and fall with a howl of surprise and pain, clutching his wrist with his good hand.”
- While fighting a war, Gisborne was scarred. He said, “The Saracens poured oil from a jar down my face and tied me over a lamp so that I could feel its heat rising against my skin, and had to hold myself back against the ties or else be burned. . . they cut the bonds. I was too weak to stop myself from falling against the burning lamp.”
- Marian accidentally drops her Robin Hood mask and a guard finds it. When the guard pulls his sword, Marian shoots an arrow at him. “The force of the arrow’s impact had knocked him back against the wall, and he stayed leaning there, mouth open. . . he moaned and slumped toward the ground.” The guard dies from his injuries.
- Robin Hood and his men plan to steal gold, but they end up walking into a trap. When Robin Hood realizes it’s a trap, she yells to the others to flee. “One of the guards screamed a moment later as he fell, bleeding from a shallow cut across his face. . .”
- Robin Hood is left to fight Gisborne on her own. “She swung hard, with the momentum of her whole body, as Gisborne’s next blow came down at her. The force of her parry knocked him back a step, and Marian scrambled back. . . His sword came down like an elemental force, but Marian saw the shift in his feet and the tension in his arm and she was ready. . . Steel met steel with a clash that numbed Marian’s arm.”
- When Robin Hood flees, Gisborne shoots an arrow. “The point had broken off when she’d rolled, but when she looked down a bloody, splintered thing protruded from her chest. He’d shot her in the back, and the force of it had driven the arrow straight through her. . . His eyes moved from his hand to her face, and then down to the mess of blood and splintered wood at her chest.” As Gisborne looks at Mariam, “something heavy swung into view and collided with the side of Gisborne’s head, knocking him flat.” The fight scene is described over six pages.
- When Marian is accused of being Robin Hood, she is sentenced to hang. Her men and Gisborne attempt to free her. “. . . Before Marian could recover, [Gisborne] pulled her sideways and dropped her neatly and abruptly off the edge of the platform and into the mud.” Marian is grabbed and pulled underneath the platform.
- Gisborne fights the sheriff’s men. “Gisborne flung himself down onto the wood to avoid two more swords, spraying blood onto the planks from a gash in his neck.” Marian jumps in to help Gisborne.
- While trying to free Marian, the scene turns into chaos, which allows Marian and Gisborne to flee. When their pursuers get close, “a hard body collided with hers and slammed her to the ground. . .” As arrows fly toward them, Marian and Gisborne jump off a cliff into a river. The final escape scene is described over ten pages.
Drugs and Alcohol
- After Marian is told about Robin’s death, a physician gives her something that makes her sleep. Later her maid gives her “herb-laced wine.”
- When Marian is upset, her maid gives her a “cup of well-watered ale.” The ale has “draught” that makes Marian sleep.
- Occasionally the adults have wine or mead. For example, Marian thinks back to when her mother would give her father a “mug of watered ale” to ease his tension.
- Marian runs into a castle guard that was “slumped on one of the tables . . . drunk, and out of his head.”
- When robbing a wealthy man, John “had liberated a cask of wine.”
- Damn is used seven times. For example, the sheriff yells at his men, “Kill him—now, you damned slackwits!”
- Ass is used once and hell is used twice.
- “God’s bones,” “God’s knees,” “oh God,” “Christ” and other like phrases are rarely used as an exclamation.
- “Mary’s tits” is used as an exclamation twice.
- When Will doesn’t want to help Gisborne escape being hung, Alan says, “He just saved her life. You really do have shit for brains.”
- Some believe Robin’s spirit has returned; however, it is really Marian in disguise.
- When Robin’s uncle died, Robin was told, “Your uncle was much liked, before he went to be with God.”
- While engaged, Robin and Marian had “never lain together, both too conscious of the laws of God and man. . .”
- Occasionally Marian prays. For example, when Marian goes to help a friend, she prays, “God what am I doing? It’s Robin—Robin’s the one who should be here.”
- When Robin’s mother died, “people kept saying [Robin] should be happy she was with God.” Marian replies, “Or I could be like Father Gerolt and give you a sermon about God’s plan. Don’t despair, my child, for it is not for us to know the will of heaven.”
- After injuring a guard, Marian prays “to God that he lives.”
- When Marian goes to see the injured guard, a monk tells her, “Now it only remains to wait, and to pray for God’s mercy. If the wound begins to heal, he may live. If the wound poisons his blood. . . he will go with God.”
- The monk moves with difficulty. When Marian asks after his health, the monk tells her it is a “test God has granted me.”
- Gisborne tells Marian, “Because the law will never be just. Perhaps it can come close—so close the line is hard to see. But laws are written by men, who are imperfect by nature, and justice belongs to something beyond the power of men.”