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The Outlaws of Sherwood

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,197 Ratings  ·  677 Reviews
For use in schools and libraries only. Author McKinley applies her unparalleled vision of traditional legends to the story of Robin Hood and his community of Sherwood Forest outlaws.
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published May 13th 2002 by Turtleback Books (first published 1988)
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Apr 04, 2009 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-stuff
Full disclosure: I like this book a lot, and I think its best points more than outweigh its flaws.

To those disappointed by Robin Hood’s sidelining, I want to point out that McKinley’s title--The Outlaws of Sherwood--should warn you what she’s up to. Robin Hood himself is not her main focus, though he is the key and the center of the plot, and the nucleus of all the relationships of the outlaw band. Traditional interpretations of heroism and heroes don’t interest her, and mythic grandeur only whe
Oct 28, 2013 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a thing for Robin Hood. Specifically Robin Hood retellings. I love Robin, Marian, Little John, Will Scarlet, Much the Miller, Alan-a-Dale, and the whole merry crew. I read Ivanhoe cover to cover just for Robin Hood's periodic appearances. And when I went on study abroad to England, I dragged my best friend all the way to Nottingham and Sherwood Forest as well so I could walk around in the woods and soak it all up. It's still one of the happiest, most golden days I can recall, that one. My ...more
I’ve been on a bit of a Robin Hood craze for the past month. Having always had a place in my heart for the noble outlaw, my interest in him was rekindled when I stumbled upon the BBC show and fell in love with the story and the characters all over again. Thus, when I started nearing the last episodes of the series, I wasn’t ready to give it up just yet. I got this sort of clingy feeling, like when you were little and you came to the end of a wonderful bedtime story and you just don’t want to go ...more
I finished this book with a wistful feeling, thinking it was beautiful despite the violence, suffering and loss. McKinley captures the essence of the Robin Hood legend with lyrical descriptions and good characterisation. The style of the telling is reminiscent of a tale of long ago--with a few anachronistic turns of phrase. The author even gets away with some drifting points of view because of that old-tale quality.
The story of Robin Hood captured my heart when I was very young, and Robin has l
I was reading Robin McKinley’s Sherwood Outlaws and started thinking what the legend means to me.

I couldn't get into the book – even though I like the characters (this incarnations of them) and the writing, they seem to be behind a glass wall that I couldn't break, and didn’t want to. I cannot start to care – and this feels to be of crucial importance in fiction for me lately. I don’t have to like everybody and everything in a book, but at least something must pull me into – even if it is a desc
Aug 27, 2013 Meg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book is a weak 2 stars - but it picks up to 4+ after that point, so rating it is really confusing. One thing's for sure, though - Robin Hood is the LEAST interesting character. Not to mention the worst archer in the group. Which is easily one of my favorite parts about it.

To me, the book demonstrates the reality of a legend like Robin. Most iconic characters in both history and fiction owe their legendary status to timing, luck, and a bunch of awesome friends.

This novel is
Apr 25, 2010 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
McKinley explores the circumstances that might have led to the formation of an outlaw community in Sherwood and the growth of the Robin Hood legend. She contrasts Robin's practical concerns (not being arrested and executed, taking care of his followers when the decide to live in the woods) with the more abstract political ideals of those who want to make him a symbol of Saxon resistance. McKinley's Robin is not a great archer or a brilliant strategist, but he is an inspiring leader.

This was a g
Jul 24, 2015 Duckie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hoodwinkers
It’s impressive the power a symbol can carry. Case in point: for a brief spate about three or four years ago, I was working in Beijing, which is noted for (among other things) its affection for foreign brands and its creative interpretation of copyright law. Near my apartment lay a popular clothing store called "Robin Hood, Ltd.," which offered a shirt emblazoned with their own logo design and the motto, "Be yourself." This shirt was so ubiquitous that I would sometimes step out of the apartment ...more
Rachel Lee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 08, 2010 Minh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I am a sucker for Robin Hood. Off the top of my head I can remember at least 3 versions of Robin Hood that I've read (not all loved). Robin Hood is the book that I remember the most when I think back to my primary school reading days, and I was super excited (and eventually super disappointed) for the new BBC incarnation of my favourite protagonist. I picked up Outlaws because of a yuletide story that I put to the sidelines, not wanting to spoil myself for yet another version of the Hooded Man. ...more
Mary JL
Jun 10, 2010 Mary JL rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy, adventure tales and legends
Recommended to Mary JL by: Famiiar with the author from other books
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
Previously, I had read McKinley's retelling of Beauty and the Beast. So, I started her Robin Hood novel expecting a good tale--and I was NOT disappointed!

Yes, we all know the story--Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and the whole cast. In her epilogue, Robin McKinley notes she has read over twenty Robin Hood novels. Her own adaptation of this well know tale is nicely done.

She has an enjoyable writing style, and gives some background to many of the characters. She points out some of the problem
P. Kirby
Jul 14, 2016 P. Kirby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retellings
In which Robin Hood becomes a worry wort.

The Outlaws of Sherwood takes a realistic approach to the legendary outlaw and his band of merry, uh, persons. In this version, Robin is not the son of an earl, but instead a yeoman forester who stumbles reluctantly into leadership when he accidentally kills another forester. Robin is a decent woodsman, but he's not a particularly good archer. His main strength is that he's the kind of quiet leader that people inexplicably want to follow. His merry band o
Gail Carriger
May 29, 2015 Gail Carriger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 04, 2012 Natalie rated it really liked it
In a Sentence: The Outlaws of Sherwood was a charming re-telling of an age-old legend.

My Thoughts

I think there's a part of me that will always love old stories and legends. Because these stories and their various mythologies have always been of interest to me, I love coming across re-tellings in which the author puts his or her own creative spin on things. That, combined with my growing affection for the BBC's Robin Hood television series and my good experiences with Robin McKinley in the past
May 04, 2011 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Hope
What follows is me prattling on in lists of three.

If you could chart my opinion of this book, it went rather sporadically like this:
Four stars, bumps up to five stars for a few chapters, falls to three stars, drops to two stars, and finally returns to three stars because, heck, I love Robin Hood.
I have three very good reasons for its three star rating, too, though I'm sure I could drag up a few other inconsistencies. In no particular order,
1. The Romance.
2. The Gore.
3. The Ending.

And, to balanc
Jul 21, 2009 skein rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star
The story of Robin Hood is so continually relevant that it is able to transcend the (comparatively) little worries about historical accuracy - so sayth McKinley. By and large, I find myself agreeing with her. In this case.

Overall a very enjoyable little book - it would be great to read aloud; it's more story than novel, which ... is typical of McKinley.

Drawbacks: the numerous little characters seem to drift in and out without really making a mark - unless the point is "there were an awful lot of
May 16, 2007 Susie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes
I found that I adored him and that he came alive for me as Robin Hood. He is not the typical version - he is a reluctant hero, more forced into the role by his friends than by his own wishes. ("'That's why we need you,' said Much comfortably. 'You're a pessimist and a good planner.' 'I have be begun to plan and be pessimistic,' said Robin angrily.") Robin is simply average - he is not great with a bow, he can hold his own in a battle but he is not fighter; he was in the wrong place at the wrong ...more
Jenny Preston
Jun 12, 2014 Jenny Preston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
As usual for McKinley, this is a fantastic world populated by rich characters. It's my favorite aspect of her writing. Her heroes are never perfect, but rather conflicted humans trying to figure out this life thing.

I have never before seen Robin Hood portrayed as a reluctant leader. In McKinley's version, Marian and Much, plus a dose of difficult circumstances, do more to drive the creation of the outlaw band than any of Robin's leading. This reluctance continues to affect decisions throughout.
Jonathan Hord
Jul 19, 2016 Jonathan Hord rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eleven years. That's how long it took me to start this book. I say eleven years because that's how long I've been with my now-wife, and as long as I've known her she's been patiently asking me to read one of her favorite books.

I open with this description to highlight that the copy of book I read was creased along the spine, the pages yellowed and the cover faded with age. Yet as I picked up the book my wife had picked up almost two decades before, I felt it. Without reading a word I felt the w
I had some problems at the beginning that colored my enjoyment of the rest of it. McKinley never does tell us how old Robin and his friends are. At the very beginning I thought they must be twelve or so, but it turns out they're full grown, late teens or early twenties. Of course their actual ages don't really matter, but it gave me trouble figuring things out. My other big problem was that the outlaws were political symbols from the first, which seems really odd, both too canny and too sudden, ...more
Dec 09, 2010 Terri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
I know, I know, you’ve had a book blog for HOW MANY MONTHS and you haven’t reviewed anything by Robin McKinley? I’M SORRY!!! Without further adieu, Outlaws:

So yes, if I had to pick a “favorite” author, it would be Robin McKinley. Her phrasing and syntax is amazing, and every time I read one of her books, I’m amazed by the way she strings her sentences together. The only way I can describe it is that she is the most articulate writer I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

You already know the story o
Apr 04, 2011 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have to say, I was rather disappointed by The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley. Once started, it wasn't bad enough to not finish, but it left much to be desired and the ending was entirely unsatisfactory.

(view spoiler)
Apr 14, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ls-583
Jamie Poorman

APA Citation: McKinley, R. (1998) The Outlaws of Sherwood. New York: Greenwillow.

Genre: Adventure

Format: Print (paperback, 368 pages)

Awards: ---------

Selection Process: Booklist review, School Library Journal review

The Outlaws of Sherwood is aptly named - while retelling the legends of Robin Hood in medieval England, McKinley explores many of the characters, following their stories, actions, and thoughts as opposed to focusing only on Robin himself. Many characters, often featured
Sep 22, 2008 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of, favorites
Witty, this one.
I am loving the clever dialogue.
I confess when I started reading it I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to get through it, what with the very descriptive writing, and all... BUT, she proved me wrong (again). Several times have I laughed out loud while reading the altercations and discussions between the characters.

I think the author did really well adapting this tale to story form.

Edited to add:

Wow! I didn't realize it, but I never bothered to learn any version of the tale of
Apr 20, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robin Hood is a character that I always seem to revisit during different points in my life. From the animated Disney movie, to Costner, to Men in Tights. Recently, my interest was spiked by stumbling across the BBC version, which I enjoyed quite a lot.

I had never been interested in reading any Robin Hood books, but decided to look for some high rated ones and jump in. I am greatly amused that I can read this with the BBC characters still in mind, even though this book was written quite a bit bef
Jan 28, 2011 Chachic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted here.

Robin McKinley's Robin Hood surprised me in the sense that he didn't behave the way I expected someone who leads a band of outlaws to behave. He was very much a reluctant leader from start to finish. I imagined him to be a merry kind of thief, eager to be an outlaw and passionate about leading his people against their oppressors. Instead, we get a Robin who's very practical and whose primary concern is to protect the people he's responsible for. When he accidentally kills
Apr 11, 2007 Res rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
Retelling of Robin Hood legend -- she tells it straight, but in the modern interior-psychological style.

The writing is extraordinarily clumsy, from the sentence-structure level to the introduction of backstory (which often shows up five seconds before it's needed to support some new development). I'm not familiar enough with the canon to evaluate the story's effectiveness as fanfic.

I have some minor plausibility problesm -- how does a lord's daughter get to be best buddies with two working men'
This was my first reread in a long while, as this is probably my least favorite McKinley book (which doesn't mean I don't like it, it just means I like the others more). It's clear from the start that McKinley's Robin Hood is very different from the traditional figure. As the book opens, Robin, a forester of Sherwood Forest, is practicing his archery in preparation for an archery contest at the Nottingham fair; unfortunately for him, "[Robin:] was not a bad archer, but his father had been a sple ...more
Mar 18, 2009 Erika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robin McKinley’s adaptation of the Robin Hood legend begins as most do: with the catalytic event explaining Robin’s later and more familiar outlaw state. The first time we see Robin he’s not a great shot. As a sub-apprentice forester, he’s not expected or required to be. Unfortunately for him he’s also the only son of Richard Longbow, a man respected for, of all things, his abilities as an archer. Not only is Robin struggling to live up to his father’s legacy, he’s suffering under the oppression ...more
Kayla Rivera
Nov 01, 2012 Kayla Rivera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-12
Robin McKinley does an excellent job reviving the age-old tale of Robin Hood. Taking a unique spin on the classic, McKinley shows Robin Hood's tale with a refreshing taste of realism. Robin, originally, is depicted as a reluctant leader, practically coerced into becoming the brave, plundering, righteous man we think of now through a stream of accidents and one very persuading friend. McKinley reveals how the "Merry Men" in Sherwood would have had to survive, and gives an admirable strength to th ...more
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Gail Carriger Fan...: May Read: The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley (YA) 3 24 May 26, 2015 10:06AM  
Favourite movie version of Robin Hood? 1 6 Jan 09, 2015 03:02AM  
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Born in her mother's hometown of Warren, Ohio, Robin McKinley grew up an only child with a father in the United States Navy. She moved around frequently as a child and read copiously; she credits this background with the inspiration for her stories.

Her passion for reading was one of the most constant things in her childhood, so she began to remember events, places, and time periods by what books
More about Robin McKinley...

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“She poured the water, arranged some bread near enough the embers to scorch but not catch fire, and looked up at Little John. She was so accustomed to his step, to his bulk, that it took a moment to notice his face; and when she did . . . It was, she thought, rather like the moment it took to realize one had cut one's finger as one stared dumbly at the first drop of blood on the knife-blade. You know it is going to hurt quite a lot in a minute.” 14 likes
“One keeps searching for ease, she did not say, and not finding it, till the memories of no-pain seem only like daydreams.” 10 likes
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