The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
I read the version available on Manybooks.net
Wow. The book is mostly comic relief, and I’d say that surprisingly Mel Brooks probably came closer to capturing Robin Hood than the newer movies have (I haven’t seen Erol Flynn’s Hood yet). The first part of the book is pretty whimsical and quite a bit repetitive, but somewhere around the 60% mark, it turns into a pretty stirring adventure and about 3/4 of the way through, it starts to make a gradual transition to something more mature and gritty. The 3rd act has some pretty tense moments in it, and I found myself genuinely fearing for the safety of some of the beloved characters I had come to know and love.
If you like upbeat, happy endings, I implore you, don’t read the epilogue. At least one villainous character gets his comeuppance in an undignified and much deserved way, but the ending is so terribly sad, and kind of depressing. I kind of knew this going in, but I read it through anyway, for the sake of completion. I wasn’t in any way prepared for the ending of this book. It was far sadder and unexpected than I had anticipated and yet, it felt complete. I’m not sure I would change the ending if I had the opportunity, somehow, it grounds the story in reality. I think it’s that sense of reality and mortality that makes the ending so poignant. It’s like you’ve watched this band of cut-ups, these Merry Men, grow and mature, and like all things in life, the world corrupts this idealism, and the whole thing feels tainted and paradoxically, fulfillingly unsatisfying.
I recommend the book.
If you want it to stick with you, I recommend reading the epilogue.
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