About the Book
Title: Knight of Sherwood
Series: Outlaw’s Legacy, Book 2
Author: N.B. Dixon
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Release Date: September 14, 2017
Genre(s): Historical, LGBT
Robin returns to England after four years fighting in the holy land. On arriving at Locksley, he discovers that Guy of Gisborne, his most hated enemy, has been made Sheriff of Nottingham. Forced to flee into Sherwood, Robin sets himself up as champion of the poor.
But Robin has a secret. His feelings for his friend Will Scathelock have deepened, but to acknowledge the truth would mean facing up to his past. Meanwhile Lady Marian Fitzwalter, heiress to the vast Huntingdon estate is determined to claim Robin for her own.
Full disclosure: I was not going to review this one because I was ambivalent about the first book. However, I truly can’t resist Robin Hood, so I was sucked in (and pleasantly surprised because I liked it far more than I expected).
First of all, this is not a romance. Calling it one would be a stretch. And that’s fine by me. I love a good action/adventure story, and boy does this deliver on all counts. Naturally, all the wonderful things we would expect out of a good Sherwood tale are there: Manipulative nobility, Guy of Gisborne’s jealous rage, Robin and his Merry Men doing what they do best. All the players are there on the stage, and it’s so well-written. I couldn’t help getting caught up in their plotting and scuffles.
There are some sad moments as well, which is also to be expected. They’re quite well done, and nothing in here felt played for tragedy or angst. Everything fit smoothly into the story and worked just as it should to arouse emotion without becoming tedious.
My primary complaint had been with the women in the first book. Let me say that I do not know how the author did it, but she convinced me to like one of the primary villains this time around. I hated Katrina in the first book, but I loved her cunning in this one. Marian is, of course, brilliant. She does what she needs to in order to survive a world where she is no more than property. All the other women are delightful too, and I loved beyond description how they also fit seamlessly in with the Merry Men.
The one thing I could’ve done without was the Robin/Will dynamic. That may sound odd coming from an avid reader of LGBT fiction, but it simply did not work for me. For one thing, they had absolutely no chemistry. Robin pretty much has no chemistry with anything except his bow and arrow. I also struggled to see him as believably bisexual. His interactions with women feel forced.
I also disliked having to read pages and pages (as in, nearly the whole book) of internalized homophobia. That, too, was not realistic or believable. The “inciting incident” required a warning, even though it’s not described in detail. Not only that, we had plenty of on-page heterosexual intimacy but not even flashbacks of Robin and Will (which contributed to the lack of chemistry). I don’t imagine this was the author’s intent, but the way it comes across is that either the author is uncomfortable with gay content or thinks the audience will be. The end result is having to read what feels like homo-shaming and punishment with no reward for the emotional labor that requires. It’s disappointing.
In reality, the romance was probably less than ten percent total of the book, which is fine. In future installments, I’d like to see less of Robin being conflicted and more of him enjoying himself. He seems to me much more the type to truly believe “hearts, not parts” as long as a good time is had by all.
Overall, this is superb writing and a great story. This is Robin Hood, so there’s not a whole lot brand-new in there. However, for anyone who appreciates the mythology, this is a highly immersive experience of the legend.
For an absorbing story, classic Robin Hood adventures, and the good kind of cliffhanger, this gets 8/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
N.b. Dixon is an author of historical fiction. Her love for the Robin Hood legend began in a neglected corner of the school library and has continued ever since. She is a self-confessed bookworm and also a musician.
She began work on the Outlaws Legacy series in 2013, and was accepted by Beaten Track Publishing in 2016. Outlaws Legacy is a historical series based around the Robin Hood legend. The author describes it as Exciting Historical Adventure with GLBT romance.
How and why did you choose your genre?
I have a pretty broad reading taste, but I’ve always loved historical fiction. The first novel I ever wrote was set in Victorian England. I wrote it while I was in college, and it was lousy, so it got deleted quickly. After that, I tried several other genres, but in the end, I came back to historical fiction. I really think I’ve found my niche with this current series.
What inspired you to write ‘Outlaw’s Legacy?
I’ve always loved the Robin Hood legend. However, there are gaps in the story. We don’t know every detail about his life. I was intrigued by the idea of filling in those gaps. I thought it would be fun to think of the series as a biography of a mythical character. The first book in the series showed Robin as a young boy. In the sequel, he is a man in his early twenties. As the series progresses, he will age with each book, and readers will get to see every aspect of his life, just as they would if they were reading a biography of a man who really existed.
Which authors have inspired your writing?
Elizabeth Chadwick and Bernard Knight are two of my favourite authors. Both of them are fantastic storytellers, and both have the gift of description. They’re able to bring to life the period of history in which their story is set in such a way that you actually feel you are there.
Musical theatre or rock concert?
What’s a charity/cause you support?
The Royal National Institute for the Blind.
What genre other than your own do you like to read?
I love children’s literature and fantasy fiction.
3 eBook copies of Knight of Sherwood