Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Outlaws of Sherwood” as Want to Read:
The Outlaws of Sherwood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Outlaws of Sherwood

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  11,202 ratings  ·  891 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. ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Ace (first published 1988)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Outlaws of Sherwood, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Becca Most of the characters' ages aren't really clarified so I didn't think about it while I was reading, but looking back, one of the couples is probably …moreMost of the characters' ages aren't really clarified so I didn't think about it while I was reading, but looking back, one of the couples is probably an older guy (I'd guess him to be in his twenties or thirties)/young girl (in her upper teens). I wouldn't have called the man old, but he's certainly older than his love interest.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,202 ratings  ·  891 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Outlaws of Sherwood
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Full review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

I’ve owned a paperback copy of The Outlaws of Sherwood, a retelling of the Robin Hood folktale, 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: a straightforward historical novel — no fantasy elements at all — telling 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
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
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 23, 2010 rated it liked it
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 14, 2017 rated it liked it
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!
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
Aug 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
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 arch ...more
Gail Carriger
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A serious and emotionally crippling take on the Robin Hood myth. Despite the fact that the vast limestone caves below Nottingham yet again make no appearance (why are the Robin Hood myths so lax on this count?) this is my favorite retelling. And yes, I include the various TV series in this statement ~ even Richard Armitage.

McKinley’s characters are wonderful (Little John’s romantic thread is the bestest). Her final tree-borne battle scene is genius and brutally sad.

It’s been well over a decade
This book is not perfect. Oddly enough, whenever I try to list the imperfections, I can't think of any. I can only think of all the thinks I liked. This includes, but is not limited to:

1) the humor
Are you not Robin Hood, who introduced the longbow to Sherwood, that all the Normans now go in fear of his reach?
I am he they call Robin Hood. I am also calmly eating venison and would recommend you do likewise. [p.104]
It's hard to look too grand when you're lead by someone who looks like a pudding wit
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
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
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
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
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
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: solid, ya
This book is a mix, but I feel compelled to endorse it.

I am not easily bored by slow-moving stories, but twice now I have picked this book up to read and had the powerful urge to put it down again only a few chapters in. I also love Robin McKinley, so I am no stranger to her thoughtfulness and formality. Almost until three-fourths of the way through, I was still reading by deliberate choice, not by desire. However, I still gave this story four stars, and here's why:
• The satisfying ending. How h
Rachel Lee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: school-books
This took me a very long time to read, but it actually wasn't that bad. ...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 pa
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.
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
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.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is just deeply satisfying in a way very few other Robin Hood tales are.
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
Andrew Ashton
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book!! Definitely a read again!!
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Review originally published 26 June 2020 at Falling Letters.

I chose to read The Outlaws of Sherwood last month for Wyrd & Wonder because it was one of the few books on my fantasy TBR that was quickly available through Libby. But surprise! There’s no fantasy here. I have learnt my lesson. Legend ≠ fantasy.

The Outlaws of Sherwood was my second McKinley novel. I added it to my TBR when a Goodreads friend suggested it after I read The Hero And the Crown . I found Sherwood far more to my taste th
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
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)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Gail Carriger Fan...: May Read: The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley (YA) 3 27 May 26, 2015 10:06AM  
Favourite movie version of Robin Hood? 1 10 Jan 09, 2015 03:02AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Winter Rose (Winter Rose, #1)
  • The Gammage Cup (The Minnipins, #1)
  • A Parcel of Patterns
  • Belle Prater's Boy
  • The Shining Company
  • Power Born (Maid of Iron Book 1)
  • The Perilous Gard
  • The Wise Woman and Other Stories
  • Parallel Journeys
  • The Ramsay Scallop
  • Snow White and Rose Red
  • Davy Crockett: His Own Story
  • The Godmother (Godmother, #1)
  • The Swan Kingdom
  • Hawksmaid: The Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian
  • Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest (Rowan Hood, #1)
  • Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm, #1)
  • Unseen Beauty
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

If you love the fantasy genre, this is the season for you! Some of the biggest books out this fall promise to be epics full of magic, adventure,...
197 likes · 50 comments
“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
More quotes…