Friday, September 13, 2013

Classics Retold: Book Review: Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (no spoilers)

the Classics Retold project hosted by Alison @ The Cheap Reader, Alyssa @ Books Take You Places, Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy, Wendy @ Excellent Library, Brittany @ Book Addict's Guide. Alison @ The Cheap Reader came up with this idea after project Fairy Tale was such a huge hit. She tweaked the challenge a bit to include classic books and their adaptations. 

Book:  The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
Author: Howard Pyle
Publication: 1883
Source: Digital Library/ Project Glutenberg
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Summary (From Goodreads):
He stole from the rich and gave to the poor, and in so doing became an undying symbol of virtue. But most important, Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men offer young readers more than enough adventure and thrills to keep them turning the pages. Who could resist the arrows flying, danger lurking, and medieval intrigue?

My Thoughts:

I'm sad to say I did not enjoy The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood as much as I had hoped for. I think part of the reason is because of the Disney movie I have watched many times. I had other problems with the story as well. This novel took me many weeks to read because it was such a slow moving tale.

This book was published in 1883 and it showed through the writing style. The English was very old English and many words we don't use anymore. The writing was still beautiful and I see why it is a classic. I thought the preface was magnificent and I have to admit I read it more than once. I was intrigued in the opening chapters of Robin Hood, but then it went downhill from there.

I have to admit I had a hard time imagining Robin and Little John as men when I was so used to them being a fox and a bear. Eventually they came to be the men clad in Lincoln Green they were supposed to be. The opening chapters of Robin Hood explain why he is an outlaw and his meeting of Little John. Then it goes on for more than half of the novel to explain how Robin formed his merry band. That is where I felt the chapters got very repetitive and came to be the same concept with the person having a different name. I felt myself getting bored and struggling to read the novel. I pushed through. Around pg 119 I checked out the audio book from the library. I was within 100 pages of finishing, but I was struggling to keep going.

Sometimes I had to laugh as Robin would walk in public in different clothes than his Lincoln Green and nobody would recognize him until he revealed himself. Sometimes I had to wonder how ignorant the strangers Robin met were to not recognize the bold outlaw.

The most disappointing part of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood was that Maid Marion was not really a character in this novel. I have always loved the character of Maid Marion and how she fell in love with Robin. She was only mentioned a couple times and her and Robin never did meet. The whole novel I hoped she would be introduced, but she never really was.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood is overall a light tale. Robin steals from the rich to give to the poor. I wish they focused a bit more on the town of Nottingham. I was disappointed that Robin never interact with the citizens of Nottingham although he was the talk of the whole country. For me that was a big part of the Disney movie, his interaction with the people of Nottingham.

Overall I liked the story, but there was a lot of disappointments that came with The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Part of my disappoint came with the expectations I had for this novel. I am glad I read this novel so I can say I read the original story of Robin Hood. I liked getting to know the minor characters a bit better through the novel. I think the story is more brought to life through film. I will recommend this novel although my only advice is to lower your expectations and get rid of all the preconceptions you have in your head of the story of Robin Hood. I do have to admit I do enjoy the Disney ending of Robin Hood more than I enjoyed the book. The book has a very dark ending that I wouldn't recommend for small children whereas the Disney movie ends with a hope for the future. Robin Hood is a very old tale with very old writing that will stand the test of time and forever be a classic. Although I didn't overly enjoy this novel does not mean another person will not enjoy The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. I will recommend it.

Thanks for reading



  1. Oh wow! No Maid Marion? It is interesting that she has such a small role since the movies always give her such a big one. Love Classics Retold!

    1. She does always have a big part and has always been my favorite so I was disappointed not to see her there.

  2. Did you know that Maid Marian isn't a part of the original tale? That might be why she wasn't included that much if it was more of a nod to the original. I am sorry that you had a hard time separating this from the animated film. Hopefully you will enjoy the other adaptations more!

    1. Sorry just realized that I didn't clarify, the original tale is actually "The Gest of Robyn Hode" and it is very old, you can find more info on my first post over on the blog! Thanks for participating!!

    2. I may or may not find time to read that one, but I enjoyed reading your post. I learned a lot about Maid Marian in my research and it seems she was just added to the tale later.

  3. I am a really an avid fan of Robin Hood, and we are planning on collecting different versions
    so we could use it for our future plays.

    1. That is a wonderful idea. Robin Hood is a great tale.


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