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The Outlaws of Sherwood

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  10,021 Ratings  ·  762 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 10, 2008 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
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
$1.51 Kindle sale, Nov. 30, 2017. 3.5 stars. The Outlaws of Sherwood, a retelling of the Robin Hood folktale, has been on my bookshelf for ages, dating back to the days when I was auto-buying everything Robin McKinley wrote. It's a very different type of book for her: no fantasy elements at all, just a straightforward historical novel about how Robin came to be the leader of a band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest, and how several of the key members of his group came to join him.

Interestingly, Rob
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
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A nice telling of Robin Hood that sticks pretty close to the classic version. However, Marian gets more of a role, and she is a great character!
Aug 27, 2013 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
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The writing is superb. I love this telling of the story, and how the characters are portrayed. They have a slight modern feel without being obnoxious or out of place (I could easily picture the cast from BBC's Robin Hood. In fact, I suspect the creators of the show read this book for inspiration, for there are some suspicious parallels. ;)) All the Robin and Marian scenes were adorable and made my heart happy. <3 I liked how Robin was almost a different character in this. He wasn't the best a ...more
Feb 04, 2012 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
Apr 23, 2010 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
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
Jul 08, 2010 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
This retelling of Robin Hood tries to ground itself in the realities of life in early medieval England, which makes this interesting but only semi-enjoyable. Robin is pessimistic about the bandits' chances from the start, and there's the understanding that they can't last forever. This gives the book an odd tone. It's sometimes lighthearted and humorous, poking fun at the more ridiculous elements of the legend, but then will take a sharp turn into darker sections where everyone is cold and hungr ...more
Deborah Pickstone
One of the better versions of the legend of Robin Hood. I have no idea why this is designated as YA, that seems fairly pointless; perhaps because the author writes fantasy - to my disappointment there is no more from her in this vein.

Set in the reign of Richard 'Lionheart', as the legend often is - yet this is a most unlikely time for the birth of this legend if only because Richard spent as little as 8 weeks in total in England in the course of a 10 year reign. I also think his attempt to eleva
Mary JL
May 18, 2010 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
Rachel Lee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 10, 2012 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
Gail Carriger
Nov 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 08, 2010 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
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

McKinley introduces us to a Robin who is a young man - unspecified, but I'm thinking 17ish - who becomes a reluctant outlaw after he accidentally kills someone in self defense. He is basically prodded into becoming the leader of a band of people by his two best friends, Marian and Much. And he's not a great archer. He's actually the worst archer of the lot - though that doesn't stop him from introducing the longbow to the people of Sherwood...

Robin is not the hero of legend. He's mostly a wor
P. Kirby
Jul 03, 2016 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
Jul 18, 2009 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 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
Stephanie Ricker
McKinley is an author I can depend upon. Regardless of her topic (thus far, anyway), I've thoroughly enjoyed her books. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, I don't mean it to. Her books may not be life-altering, but they are well-written, entertaining, with enough depth to satisfy. Outlaws of Sherwood is aptly titled; it's less about Robin Hood individually than the merry band as a whole, which works well in this instance. I'm a sucker for anything remotely related to Robin Hood, so I ...more
Lovely! Robin Hood legends are glorious. I meant to reread this while I was doing a module on Robin Hood -- it was mentioned during the course, if I remember rightly. Must revisit it soon, with my new/deeper knowledge of the traditions.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What if Robin Hood was a lousy marksman? What if some terrific writer retold the story of the Outlaws of Sherwood in an entirely new (to me) way? The answer is this book! This awesome book by the even more awesome Robin McKinley whom I grow to love more and more the more I read from her.

This story is magnificently told as it's not only the story of Robin Hood, it also tells us the story about Will Scarlet, about Maiden Marian (who's not so much as a damsel in distress as a strong, independent h
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Robin Hood.
I do love stories about Robin Hood! Robin McKinley’s The Outlaws of Sherwood, I enjoyed quite a bit.
I really did! One theme I certainly enjoyed is the presence of strong women who were also outlaws with Robin! Also, McKinley’s Robin is not the best archer, not the best fighter, (not bad though), but he is the first to go live in Sherwood as an outlaw. Word spread and many others who are being oppressed by the Normans join him. This is how the band of outlaws begins. Lots of adventure! The rotten
Mar 12, 2009 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
Amanda Vail
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is unabashedly my favorite Robin Hood--and Marion, and Little John, and all the other outlaws of Sherwood. Good character growth, strong women, thoughtful prose, witty dialogue. It's a slow, satisfying read. Is it deep? No. But is it comfortable, like wrapping a warm blanket around your shoulders? Yes, indeed it is.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: retellings
The characters were really good. I liked the subplots better than the the main storyline. Little John, Cecil, and Will Scarlet especially. I did not care for the ending very much.
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Gail Carriger Fan...: May Read: The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley (YA) 3 25 May 26, 2015 10:06AM  
Favourite movie version of Robin Hood? 1 7 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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