The Outlaws of Sherwood
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The Outlaws of Sherwood

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  7,127 ratings  ·  566 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Robin McKinley's vivid retelling of the classic story of Robin Hood breathes contemporary life into these beloved adventures, with Marian taking a pivotal role as one of Robin's best archers.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Ace Trade (first published 1988)
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Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineThe Goose Girl by Shannon HaleBeauty by Robin McKinleyThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanFairest by Gail Carson Levine
The Best Fairytales and Retellings
50th out of 1,373 books — 6,174 voters
Scarlet by A.C. GaughenThe Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinleyHood by Stephen R. LawheadIvanhoe by Walter ScottThe Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Fictional Robin Hood
2nd out of 71 books — 171 voters

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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...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...more
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
Rachel Lee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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...more
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 3 of 5 stars 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...more
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...more
May 04, 2011 Amy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
May 16, 2007 Susie rated it 5 of 5 stars 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
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...more
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)...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Apr 11, 2007 Res rated it 2 of 5 stars
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'...more
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...more
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
This is my favorite Robin McKinley book. McKinley is excellent at taking familiar tales and filling them with lots of details and believable characters to make a wonderful, rounded story out of the bare bones of the tale. She also seems to enjoy giving her characters personality traits that they are not normally associated with. For example, in The Outlaws of Sherwood, Robin Hood is not a very good archery shooter, although once he becomes an outlaw, that rumor starts to circulate about him.

This book wasn’t great. I picked it up, read the first two chapters, put it down again and didn’t pick it up again for a couple months. But then I started reading it again and got far enough that I really started to enjoy it. And THEN half way through, they changed the main characters. It went from Robin Hood and Maid Marian, as it should be, to random non-canon figure and Little John! Wait, what? WHY? WHY CHANGE PERSPECTIVES HALF WAY THROUGH?!?!? And it was for two characters I didn’t really ca...more
This particular adaptation is very well done. It's written for young adults and up, rather than children, which is nice. McKinley peoples this novel with strong characters, while creating a vivid historical landscape and great adventure. She doesn't leave much out, including lots of familiar characters and traditional plot points (like the archery contest, the golden arrow, waylayings in the deep forest, disguises, and a conflicted love story with Marian). Her male and female characters are equa...more
Katharine Kimbriel
I am going to give this another try, although not in the immediate future. I got 100 pages or so into it and gave up. I was simply bored -- this version of Sherwood simply was not grabbing me. But a writer I know thinks it is the best Robin Hood ever, which makes me wonder if it's because I tried to read it while ill. (Note to self -- never start a new book while running a fever.)

So...because I have loved other McKinley books, and because several people I know really enjoyed it, I will probably...more
The Outlaws of Sherwood is a sturdy, conservative version of the Robin Hood myths, and while the book isn't particularly exciting -- aside from one really terrific description of arousal and one great riot scene -- it's a sensible collation of diffuse myths and contemporary concerns.

The book features the traditional gang: Robin Hood (who is terrible at archery and compensates through relentless anxiety), Maid Marian, Much, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Little John, Alan-a-dale, etc. McKinley is grea...more
The Adventures of Robin Hood (yes, the Errol Flynn movie), has long been one of my favorites. Although it is not shock that this story is not the same as that version, for I know there are countless versions of the Robin Hood tale, I was slightly disappointed with some of the depictions, namely of that of Robin. It all ended up working in the end, but it still bothers me that he was depicted as such a worry-wort AND that he wasn't a very good archer. I think the latter bothered me most of all, e...more
Absolutely delightful, as is usual with a Robin McKinley novel. As always, I enjoy the application of modern storytelling methods, complete with complex characters, to old stories. I particularly liked how McKinley’s Robin was practical, and less skilled at archery, staff, and such than many of his fellow outlaws. His pessimistically pragmatic viewpoint made the likelihood of a large group of outlaws surviving and eluding law enforcement more believable, and also allowed her to show the developm...more
Michelle Talbot
You always hear of the story of Robin Hood but it is so unexpected how he comes to be what he is. You get to meet the famous people that he associates with and how they came to be with him. It was wonderful to be introduced to Maid Marian, Will Scarlet, Little John and Friar Tuck. It was interesting to read how this group of people come together and to learn of their stories that connect them into a common purpose. You really get to know the characters and that really draws you in. You are rooti...more
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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
More about Robin McKinley...
Beauty (Folktales #1) The Blue Sword (Damar, #2) The Hero and the Crown (Damar, #1) Sunshine Spindle's End (Folktales #3)

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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.” 12 likes
“One keeps searching for ease, she did not say, and not finding it, till the memories of no-pain seem only like daydreams.” 8 likes
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