Mark of the Black Arrow (Robin Hood: Demons Bane 1) by Debbie Viguie and James R Tuck
|Mark of the Black Arrow (Robin Hood: Demons Bane 1) by Debbie Viguie and James R Tuck|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: With demons, magic and assorted fantasy tropes thrown into the mix, James R Tuck and Debbie Viguie breathe new life into the legends of Robin Hood. Gripping fantasy combined with well written characters, a cleverly combined plot, and a supernatural threat that not only scares, but compliments both the plot and the period perfectly.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: August 2015|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
A vast darkness is spreading. If left unchecked, it will engulf the world, and so Richard the Lionheart must depart England on a holy mission. In his absence, the safety of the realm is entrusted to his brother, Prince John. With the King departing, black sorcery grips the land, horrific creatures stalking the forests and threatening noble and peasant alike. A handful of rebels fight back, but are doomed to fail unless they can find a hero to lead them – and Robin Hood may be just the man for the job.
As a Lincolnshire lad, I grew up with a deep love for the tales of Robin Hood – there aren't many Midlands based heroes to go around! Hearing about places in these ancient tales that I knew well always enchanted me, and even inspired a brief period as an archery instructor – although my bow is rather dusty these days. It's clear that the world is still intrigued by Robin Hood – Hollywood churned out its latest Robin Hood film in 2010, and whilst Russell Crowe's English accent managed to traverse a wide array of accents, without once settling on the Midlands, the film was a huge success. So much so in fact, that four rival Robin Hood films are currently in development.
Over here we had the hugely successful Robin of Sherwood series – a great piece of 80's TV that had a change of Robin halfway through, and a cracking score by Clannad. Recently we had the Robin Hood series on the BBC which wasn't quite as successful despite great performances – it's worth watching for Guy of Gisbourne alone. It stands to reason then, that as a huge fan of both Robin Hood and Fantasy in general, I was excited by this book. And, much to its credit, I was not disappointed. This could have been a very easy book to write – telling the stories of Robin Hood but inserting various fantasy tropes throughout in order to reach a crossover audience. The authors however, chose otherwise, and instead chose to tell a story that has an intelligent plot, layered characters who build on and compliment their original counterparts, and fantasy elements that blend with both the period and the plot exceedingly well.
Everyone is recognisable – Robin, Marian, Will Scarlett, Friar Tuck, Much the Millers Son etc, but all are handled with great care. Robin in particular benefits from a new backstory that integrates him into the Fantasy side of things, whilst giving his later actions strong motivation. Marian is, as in most adaptations of recent years, a strong, clever, feisty spirit – and a fun one to read to boot. Will Scarlett serves to provide comedy for much of the book, given his taste for the high life and impractical clothing, but really steps up later in the book and becomes a character to root for. As for the fantasy elements – these are very well balanced, and it is made clear throughout the book that no matter how dangerous the demons are, mankind will always be worse. The moments of brutality that are peppered throughout the book only force to reinforce that point – these were dangerous, unstable times, made all the worse by the greed of men and their desire for war.
A thrilling start to a trilogy, I'm excited for the next book in this series! If you're looking for something that manages to be new and thrilling whilst also familiar and comforting – this is a great place to start. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy. For further reading, Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan is worth a shot. The period is somewhat later than that of Mark of the Black Arrow, but there are similar elements – superbly balanced fantasy, a gripping plot and fantastic characters.
You can read more book reviews or buy Mark of the Black Arrow (Robin Hood: Demons Bane 1) by Debbie Viguie and James R Tuck at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Mark of the Black Arrow (Robin Hood: Demons Bane 1) by Debbie Viguie and James R Tuck at Amazon.com.
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