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5 Responses

  • Who hasn’t heard of Robin Hood and his merry band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest? In this book you meet them all – including the powerful Little John, courageous Will Scarlet, musical Allan a Dale, and sly Friar Tuck. Howard Pyle offers what is probably the most complete and best collection of Robin Hood tales. All the old favorites are included – Little John and his quarter-staff toppling Robin into the water, Robin winning the golden arrow at Nottingham’s archery contest, and the Sheriff being outsmarted in numerous attempts to capture Robin. But these are just the tip of the iceberg – this book is chock-full of entertaining merry adventures.

    The medieval setting is portrayed beautifully, including the vast gulf between the upper and lower classes of society, the corruption and greed of the nobility, and the hypocrisy of the medieval Roman Catholic church where religion has degenerated to mere outward rituals. Even the language is somewhat antiquated, which initially seems tedious, but persevere because you will soon find that this an enjoyable and essential addition that heightens the heroic atmosphere of the story. But the medieval setting is not presented without a social commentary – Pyle shows that the unbalanced social structure inevitably resulted in the oppression of the poor and weak. It is left to Robin Hood and his men to take justice into their own hands, and fight nobly for the cause of the downtrodden. Such justice is accomplished in a questionable manner, because the notion of robbing the rich to help the poor implicitly endorses civil disobedience. But the more important theme of seeking justice and maintaining truth and right is in itself a noble one. With Robin Hood, we find ourselves wanting justice, and being prepared to make unselfish sacrifices in order to achieve it. When justice is done, it is actually the greed and corruption of the nobility that has led to its own destruction and ruin.

    But the real attraction of this gem are the enthralling exploits of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Howard Pyle presents Sherwood Forest as a rather glamorous utopian world where feasting and song abound, where it is never winter, and where the ale rarely runs dry. Robin Hood clearly represents a form of hedonism, and in his company there is never a lack of action, adventure, or for that matter – ale. But it’s not the beer that attracts us to Robin Hood, it’s rather his bravado. There is no end to the accomplishments of muscles and mind, as he and his merry band outwit all comers by sheer physical skill in archery, wrestling, swordmanship, and quarter-staff combat, or by outsmarting them with deceit and disguise. To our delight, Robin’s brawn and brains always come out on top at the end.

    Howard Pyle’s collection of Robin Hood’s merry adventures is a classic that is constantly entertaining and exciting – one that you’ll want to own and read over and over!

  • It pains me to read the reviews here by people who bought this book looking for the Disney fox. This is a legend, folklore, not fairy tale. It’s closer to Beowulf than Beauty and the Beast. The language is fantastic, poetry! I read it first when I was very young, fourth grade maybe, but I enjoyed it then as much as I enjoy it now. The language is an obstacle for the first two pages, maybe three, but, after you acclimatize yourself to it, it creates a unique mood and atmosphere. This book is one of my all time favorites. I laughed, I cried, I wrote a review.

  • Pyle’s book is simply THE GREATEST version of the Robin Hood legend ever written (it is no wonder it has been in print for one hundred years). The poetic Medieval english is never too difficult for readers of a young age because the dialogue is stirring, a blood-rousing call to adventure with Robin and his merry men. Pyle perfectly captures everything that makes the Robin Hood legend still compelling today, without making the battles between noble Robin and the corrupt government of early England into a treacly, heavy-handed lesson in morals (unlike many of the books his contemporaries were writing).

    This book is especially fun to read aloud; it was a popular read with the kids I babysat for in high school. (Plus, what kid doesn’t dream once in a while of running away and living in the forest, hunting deer with longbows, and showing off in front of the damsel of his dreams by defeating the “bad guy” in a duel of broadswords?)

  • I only add to the many splendidly written reviews because I am surprised none of the reviews have mentioned the illustrations. I hope these editions still contain Pyle’s original woodblock styled illustrations. Howard Pyle was first and foremost a great and renowned illustrator. He chose a woodblock print style for this book as well suited to the material, and the illustrations are detailed, well researched and evocative.

    The fake “medieval English” is extraordinarily well-done; it adds to the charm and period flavor while using the few archiac terms with such precision that anyone can infer their meanings, yet one would be at a loss how to replace them with modern terms. As to the thematic content of the book, much has been made of the heroic aspect, but I find just as appealing the comedic turn of the book. The epilogue is certainly heart-rending, the first writing ever to have drawn tears from my eyes (I believe I was nine), but there are many more other episodes that are truly and splendidly funny. Last, the key to Robin’s success in Pyle’s retelling of his exploits, as much as his skill with a bow and his wit, was that his initial reaction to any stranger or strange situation was friendliness and generousity.

  • It pains me that people are reading this without the illustrations. (Referring to Kindle edition).

    Howard Pyle was the first person in the modern era to collect all the Robin Hood ballads that had come down from the midieval era and put them into a modern format, structured as stories and so forth. Essentially every version of Robin Hood in the past century has drawn on Howard Pyle’s Robin Hood as its major source, and reading this book is the best way to understand why the minor characters in (for example) Kevin Costner’s “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves” are named things like “Will Scarlet” or “Much the Miller’s Son.”

    I was given this book to read as a child, and it was and still is one of my all-time favorites (although I always avoided reading the final chapter, which Pyle even warns his readers they may want to do). The elevated, pseudo-elizabethan style even helped me later on — when I got to Shakespeare in school, the language was easy for me, because I’d been reading Howard Pyle since I was eight.

    The problem with this ebook version is that it doesn’t contain the illustrations, though. And that’s simply unforgivable. Howard Pyle is today better known as an illustrator than as a writer. He was the art teacher who taught people like Arthur Rackham and N.C. Wyeth. His illustrations are immensely rich and detailed, and as full of period accuracy and background research as his writing was. It’s an unforgivable shame to miss them.

    Versions of this book can be found online free with illustrations. Don’t bother with this version, as it doesn’t have them. Reading this book without the illustrations is like taking an oscar-winning film and just listening to the sound with the screen blacked out. You can do it, but why?

    EDIT: There are now many Kindle versions of this book, all cross-linked so they share reviews. Currently at least, none of the free versions have illustrations; the 99-cent version marked “illustrated” does appear to have most of them, but severely cropped, without many of Pyle’s marginalia and scrollwork.



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