Sweet's Reviews > The Loyal Heart

The Loyal Heart by Merry Farmer
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
9036508
's review
Jul 27, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: historical-romance
Read on July 26, 2012

Are you a fan of the BBC series Robin Hood? If so, this book will seem very familiar -- most of this book is lifted directly from the show. So much, in fact, that this book is either fan fiction or plagiarism, I'm not sure which.

On the show, we have Robin of Locksley, recently returned from the Crusades to find his estate given over to Guy of Gisbourne, who works for the eeeeeeeevil Sheriff of Nottingham. Both Robin and Gisbourne court Maid Marian, who, disguised as The Watchman, robs from the rich to give to the poor. Pretty soon, Robin, along with Alan A'Dale, Little John, Much and Will Scarlet (among others) is also robbing/giving.

In the book, we have Ethan of Windale, recently returned from the Crusades to find his estate given over to Crispin Huntingdon, who works for the eeeeeeeevil Sheriff Buxton. Both Ethan and Crispin court Lady Aubry, who, disguised as The Bandit, robs from the rich to give to the poor. Pretty soon, Ethan, along with Jack/Alan, Toby/Much and Tom/Will, is also robbing/giving.

But that's just the beginning.

-- The characters in the book display the very same slangy, anachronistic language as the characters on the show. It works on TV. Not so much in print.

-- The Sheriff of Nottingham keeps little critters in cages and torments them to let us know he's eeeeeevil. He also has a homeoerotic attachment to Gisbourne that he displays by either being way too touchy-feely with him, or torturing him. Same thing with Buxton and Crispin, critters and bad-touching and all.

-- Gisbourne and Marian have a bizarre on-off engagement that's never fully explained. So do Crispin and Aubrey!

-- Gisbourne grievously wounds Marian, in disguise as The Watchman, just before a major event on the show, which I will not reveal so as not to spoil it. Oddly enough, Crispin wounds Aubrey (in the exact same spot on her side, if I'm not badly mistaken, that Gisbourne wounded Marian), disguised as The Bandit, just before a major event I will not spoil. That's not all -- the dress Aubrey wears to the major event is described as being nearly IDENTICAL to the one Marian wears to the event.

-- Speaking of clothing, a major plot point on the show has Alan A'Dale turning traitor and selling secrets to Gisbourne, who later hires him as a man-at-arms. Can you believe it? Jack also turns traitor and sells secrets to Crispin, who later hires him as a man-at-arms. On the show, Alan A'Dale garbs himself in Gisbourne's clothing, and Gisbourne remarks on it. In the book, Jack garbs himself in Crispin's clothing and Aubrey remarks upon it. Oh, it's also a running joke on the show that Alan has a thing for nuns -- guess who also has a thing for nuns?

-- High drama ensues on Robin Hood when the visiting Duke of Winchester (sic, maybe) decides to demand Marian as part of a negotiation with the Sheriff. Mild drama ensues in this book when the visiting Pennington decides to demand Aubrey as part of a negotiation with the Sheriff.

There's more, so much more, but I won't bore you with the details. Besides, I've saved the best for last:

The descriptions of the characters in the book are almost identical, character for character, to the actors/actresses who played the corresponding characters on the show. As though that were not enough, Crispin's name is an Easter Egg -- it's the same as his corresponding character's middle name in real life.


The two biggest problems with the book are the heroine and hero. The author obviously has a thing for the Gisbourne/Crispin character (and understandably so), but does nothing with him to make him more sympathetic/understandable/believable than he was on the show. If anything, she completely emasculates him! And don't get me started on Aubrey/Marian -- she was a bratty, immature character on the show, and she is in the book as well. When she's not inexplicably lusting over Crispin, she's creating drama. She's an almost unlikeable heroine.


Additionally, the writing, while not unreadable, is so prosaic and repetitive as to be mind-numbing. Major plot lines are either unbelievable or left hanging loose completely (the threat posed to Aubrey by Pennington is one that comes to mind, as is the whole business with the nuns).

But here's the sad thing -- the show could have been lifted scene for scene, character for character, and a great book come out of it, one that fleshed out the characters, particularly Gisbourne/Crispin, who plays such an important part in the book. That, unfortunately, is not this book.
8 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Loyal Heart.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Regan (new) - added it

Regan Walker I just started reading this book and had lots of questions/issues with the very modern writing style an words used. Your review helped me to see why. thanks for such a thoughtful review!


Sweet Oddly enough, I think the modern writing style/slangy dialogue gave the book away as taking from the TV show as much as any of the plot points. I'm probably a snob, but I can take this sort of willful anachronism on a TV show, but not in books -- I want books to be more historically accurate, ;)


message 3: by Regan (new) - added it

Regan Walker Sweet wrote: "Oddly enough, I think the modern writing style/slangy dialogue gave the book away as taking from the TV show as much as any of the plot points. I'm probably a snob, but I can take this sort of will..."

You and me both, Sweet.


Sweet Your books look fascinating, btw, Ms. Regan. I'm going to Amazon to check them out!


message 5: by Regan (new) - added it

Regan Walker Sweet wrote: "Your books look fascinating, btw, Ms. Regan. I'm going to Amazon to check them out!"

Thanks, Sweet! You can see the trailers (my homemade trailers, mind you) on my website here: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/nove...

Regan


message 6: by Regan (new) - added it

Regan Walker Sweet: when I asked her if it was a parody or a farce she asked me not to review it so I'm taking it off my list. Only got 1/3rd of the way through but would not have given it a very high rating as it was.


Sweet Really?!?!

You know, I've given this some thought, and I almost regret using the "p" word to describe this book. But I'm not familiar with fan-fic enough to understand what separates fan-fic from plagiarism -- i.e. do you expand on plots that have already been used in the original, actually reference the characters from the original?

If the book was intended as fan-fic, then it works just fine, but maybe there should have been some acknowledgment from the author of using the TV show as inspiration. Had there been that kind of acknowledgment, I might have been a bit less up in arms about the whole thing.

Also -- I doubt I would have finished the book had I not become almost obsessed with comparing it to the show, lol. Again, it may be unfair, but I'm more forgiving of anachronisms on TV shows than in books ;)


Sweet Also -- loved your book trailers! I'm just now getting in to the idea of book trailers, so I'm lapping them up. You did a great job with yours.


message 9: by Regan (new) - added it

Regan Walker Sweet wrote: "Also -- loved your book trailers! I'm just now getting in to the idea of book trailers, so I'm lapping them up. You did a great job with yours."

You are too kind, Sweet. I know mine are not professional but I felt so accomplished to do them as a complete novice and virtually for free (except for about $20 for pic licenses).


back to top