Reading Robin Hood Retellings

Happy Independence Day!!! To celebrate, it seems I'm talking about something English (or, if Lawhead is right, Welsh.) Is that bad form? I promise to say a prayer for America and watch fireworks later. :)

Book blog Pages Unbound is hosting a Robin Hood reading event this week, so I'm answering their discussion questions. I'd love to hear your answers—Robin Hood is a fascinating legend—so feel free to answer the questions on your own blog, in Pages Unbound's combox, or in mine.

What versions of Robin Hood have you read?  What retellings?

Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead and The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley are the two that come to mind. It's possible that I've forgotten others. I've also read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, and the outlaw and his merry men are featured therein. I've reviewed Hood and The Outlaws of Sherwood on this blog.

What movie or television versions have you seen?

I grew up with the animated Disney version, and am still known to sing some of the songs around the house and smile over them. As an adult, I've seen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and its spoof, Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

Do you have a favorite book or film?

It's impossible not to love the old Disney, with its lively characters, cheerful songs, adventurous children, and happy ending. Men in Tights is naughty but desperately funny. Hood is the most interesting in a historical sense—Lawhead's study of the legend, explained in the back of the book, is as fascinating as his storytelling—and The Outlaws of Sherwood was probably the most enjoyable read for characters and relationships.

Who is your favorite classic character?

Eh, I'm a girl and a romantic. I like Marian.

How do you feel about female Robin Hood characters?

As in, the substitution of a girl for the traditionally male protagonist? Or the general shortage of women in old tales like this? The former could be interesting if done well. The latter... suffice it to say that that was one of the reasons I liked the McKinley version. McKinley puts females in lead roles even if they weren't present in the original myths.

Do you like an emphasis on the romance between Robin and Maid Marian, or more emphasis on adventure?

Adventure bores me very quickly if it's not strongly supported by character and relational development. Said relational development does not have to center around the romance, however, as there's lots of superb camaraderie to be had in the Hood mythology. But even though Marian was a rather late addition to the canon, historically speaking, I confess that I'll be a bit disappointed if the love story is left out entirely.

Your turn to answer the questions!


  1. I'm a little late, but finally commenting! (I think I've figured this out.)

    I see Hood around all the time in the library and the bookstore, but was never quite certain what original spin it's supposed to give the Robin Hood tale, though I understand it's set in Wales. Maybe I'm just too attached to more traditional retellings. I didn't like The Outlaws of Sherwood for that reason. A Robin Hood who can't shoot arrows? The horror! ;)

    I have to agree with you about the Disney version, though. Even when I was younger, the dancing foxes and singing rooster seemed funny and I still burst into snippets of the songs every now and then. I think nearly everyone who participated in/commented on the event brought this film up, which is really interesting since the princess franchise seems to define Disney these days.

    I don't mind a good Marian/Robin romance myself, but I think a lot of the tales seem to take it a bit for granted. If it were developed more, I don't think I'd mind the insertion so much.

    1. It worked! Yay!

      That Robin Hood is one of Disney's best, I think. And it was clearly a memorable part of all our childhoods. :)

      Lawhead actually argues for the Welsh setting of the origins of the Robin Hood legend. For spin, he's got a pretty unique (as far as I can tell) development of the character and situation; "Rhi Bran" is the rebellious son of a little city-state king, and albeit a reluctant freedom fighter, is quite the interesting one. But yeah, it is very removed from the version we all know and love.

      I'm totally with you on that point about the tales taking the Robin/Marian romance for granted! Even if it's not central to the story, I want it to be emotive and interesting.

      And now I'm probably going to go wander around the house singing "Love... it seems like only yesterday you were just a child at play..." Or maybe "Every town has its ups and downs..." XD

      Thanks for commenting!


All comments are currently moderated. Friendly comments are welcomed with fairy music, magic wishes, and possible unicorn sightings. Troll comments will be Transfigured into decent-looking rocks or Vanished. Spam comments will be shot down with blasters.