Chrissi-chan's Reviews > Outlaw

Outlaw by Angus Donald
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Jan 07, 10

bookshelves: historical-novels, myths-and-legends
Read in November, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Outlaw is a good book with a nice refreshing - and more historically accurate - outlook on the Robin Hood story, but I found it lacking in a couple of areas. Possibly made over-critical by the "as good as Bernard Cornwell or your money back" sticker on the front of my edition (added to the fact that Bernard Cornwell is my second-favourite author - only beaten by JKRowling of course xD), I guess I expected more from the rather endearingly lumpy storyline and non-existent/confusing character development.

I felt that Outlaw's premise was nice, but maybe hadn't been thought through enough (though I feel bad knowing he spent seven years devising this XD). Rather than being a structured tale moving to an ultimate point it seemed to be a case of following Alan around as he went to largely unconnected places for astonishingly short amounts of time (I personally couldn't believe that he only spent two months in Winchester) whilst seeming to grow up emotionally though only actually gaining a year in all. I adored the final battle, but felt as though it was there 'to be an ending' not because that was where the story had naturally led the climax to; maybe if Murdac had been a more prominent figure throughout the book it would have made more sense to have him as, ultimately, a 'baddy' character.

Indeed, I felt as though characterisation was pretty thin on the ground - with one exception: Robin. Robin became, not the Robin Hood we all knew, but a savage with a strange ability to both appal and entrance you at exactly the same time. I found myself falling - with Alan - for his kindness, flattery, and wanting Alan to gain his trust and affection. Major congratulations for a perfect Robin! But.. less congratulations for the rest of them xD Minor characters don't appear to develop at all (like John or even Hugh, which is surprising considering the ending) though some characters, like Bernard, seem to just take a character alteration potion half-way through the book! Alan's emotional growth is depicted well and you feel yourself growing with him into a hardened warrior (and not so hardened trouvere xD) but I still cannot get my head around the fact that he's supposedly fourteen for the majority of the book and, at still just fourteen, he's part of Robin's inner circle for - to all intensive purposes - no other reason than his ability to sing.

Overall, Outlaw seems to juggle between being a raw historical novel about savage outlaws and the victories they achieve, and being, essentially, a book about trouveres and singing in the 12th Century. I did think that it got better as it went on - I think you can see Donald maturing as a writer with every turn of the page; his style gradually becomes more subtle (thank goodness - it was a bit blunt to begin with!) and fluid. The savage-side of Robin Hood still intrigues me and perhaps when Crusader comes out next year I'll give Donald another try :).

I just have one tip for him: don't put "as good as Bernard Cornwell or your money back" on the front of your books ^__^;; that's like a newcomer to the fantasy genre writing "as good as JRR Tolkien or your money back" xD either no one's going to take you seriously or people are going to be disappointed ^__^.
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Reading Progress

11/09/2009 page 335
91.78%
11/11/2009 page 384
100% "Finished! >w<"

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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Chrissi-chan gah! need to find the time to finish this soon, only two chapters to go! >w< and the ending's looking really good, even though it was a bit.. blunt in places ^__^;; still good.. maybe I was made over critical by the "as good as Bernard Cornwell or your money back" sticker on the front XD


message 2: by Sandra (new)

Sandra "maybe I was made over critical by the "as good as Bernard Cornwell or your money back" sticker on the front XD"

OMG, they actually had such a sticker on it?! xD LOL! You should demand your money back then =P Haha, I hope the ending will be as good as you hope :D




Chrissi-chan haha, I know! rather bigheaded of them but hey, I took it as a compliment to Bernard Cornwell-sama! >w< and.. I'd feel really bad getting my money back.. >.< as if I'd personally insulted the guy or something XD


message 4: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Oh I can imagine, but then again, they did promise xDD I mean, who could be as good as Cornwell, right? ;) (I started, btw! :D)


Chrissi-chan I saw btw ;D I know what you mean about the characters being surprising - they are very different to the traditional legend and the BBC production xD but Cornwell-sama bases it both on legend and historical accuracy so for me it was really interesting to see a different side to the legend.. and of course - love the battles >w


message 6: by Sandra (new)

Sandra I'm sure I'll get used to it ;D It's just that I haven't even reached page 30 yet, so yeah. xD And it's always really interesting to see different takes, it's just that I'm so attached to the Mists Of Avalon-versions of everyone.. Morgan especially!


Chrissi-chan haha xD Morgan is.. a bit different according to Cornwell-sama >x< not quite as glamorous as Katie McGrath either xD but I adore Cornwell-sama's Merlin, and his Nimue pwns the one from Merlin Season 1 << I really didn't like her xDD


message 8: by Sandra (new)

Sandra A bit different indeed. D: Morgan is so awesome in what I've read so far lol, it'll be quite hard to adapt I'm sure. x)
His Merlin sounds pretty eccentric so far, I love it. Nimue is cool and pwns everyone indeed. Although I liked her in Mists Of Avalon too, but she lacked a little bit of backbone there. And Nimue in the BBC version is just cruel lol, although I liked her too. xD


Chrissi-chan haha, me not liking the BBC's Merlin may have had something to do with the fact that she was played by the same woman who played the Bionic Woman which my Dad tried to make us all watch and we really didn't enjoy it XDD so, it's my Dad's fault I didn't like Nimue >.< not mine at all! xD though she was also rather evil which just may have had something to do with it X3


message 10: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Hahahaha xD I thought the actress was cool really, and pretty! And I loved the very blue eyes xDD And I loved her being evil! They needed an evil character and she was pretty cool and insane. <3<3


Chrissi-chan one of my favourite Merlin-evil-characters has to be the troll from a couple of weeks back though xD I've seen the actress in TONS of things and my aunt actually knows her D: and it was just so wonderful seeing her having so much fun xD it seems that this season is oddly more light-hearted than the last in that all the evil is destroyed quite quickly (whereas Nimue was a baddy for ages and ages) but, saying that, last ep was really scary >.< I really thought Gaius was going to die and then I was like: "but this is on before six o'clock!!! kids are gonna watch this!!!" XD


message 12: by Sandra (new)

Sandra I wasn't actually that fond of the troll *lol* The actress played her role too well, and since this is the first time I (consciously) see her in something so that had kind of a bad effect on her xD I like a more consistent baddie though - I feel like the episodes are missing a central storyline, if you get what I mean?
I definitely feared for Gaius too though!


Chrissi-chan I don't know which I prefer - this season is a bit more happy-go-lucky just enjoy watching your favourite characters do rather unrelated (but still predictable xD) things each week, whereas last season was more serious, be a bit nervous whilst watching your favourite characters battle a great evil >.< but I think they'll be gaining a long-term storyline with the entrance of Morgause (at least, I hope they will D: it'd be rather sucky if Morgause was just there for one ep >.<)


message 14: by Sandra (new)

Sandra I hope you're right! I personally really like a sort of main story line, and Morgause would be a great character to stay. And that's not just 'cause I'd like to see more Emilia. :D She looked seriously awesome in the preview!


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