Review: The Wolf and the Raven by Steven A. McKay

the-wolf-and-the-raven5 of 5 stars

The Forest Lord 2

My version:
Fiction Historical, Middle Ages, Robin Hood
Self published

In the aftermath of a violent rebellion, Robin Hood and his men must fight for survival with an enemy deadlier than any they’ve faced before…

1322. England is in disarray and Sir Guy of Guisbourne, the king’s own bounty hunter, stalks the greenwood, bringing bloody justice to the outlaws and rebels who hide there.

When things begin to go horribly wrong, self-pity, grief and despair threaten to overwhelm the young wolf’s head who will need the support of his friends and family now more than ever. But Robin’s friends have troubles of their own and, this time, not all of them will escape with their lives…

First of all, this book, as the one before, screams quality, from the first moment you pick it up. Available as a self published paperback, it is one of the best looking, best feeling books you’ll ever own. It’s got a good weight to it as well. And then what’s inside will have you leaning back in your chair with a ‘yes’ playing on your lips. That sort of thing.

This is what I’m getting from Steven’s writing of the book(s) so far.

The character of Robin, is very much front and centre in The Forest Lord books, as opposed to Angus Donald’s ‘Outlaw Chronicles’ series – which are, of course, actually about Alan Dale. Steven’s Robin is not as primal a figure as I found Angus’ Robin in the first book, Outlaw. Angus’ Robin at that stage, perhaps comparable to the stage we’re at with Steven’s Robin here, was a man of the forest, a man of the old heathen ways, a Green Man. He was the result of hundreds of years of folk law and tradition, and as primeval as can be. Steven McKay’s Robin is a much more normal (for the time), Robin. A young man coming to terms with who he is, what he is, who and what he must be to survive and ensure the survival of his friends and families. He’s getting closer to finding himself in this book, as the perfectly understandable ‘rabbit in the headlights’ Robin of the first book, settles down and the magnitude of the task ahead becomes more and more obvious. It’s the story of a boy, filling out, growing into the role history has given him, slowly finding the strength and leadership needed to be the bearer of the hopes of the people around him.

The Forest Lord series, features the usual supporting cast, those who are normally the supporting cast, those you ‘know’ were Robin’s band. What is done with the characters, is interesting too. Here, I felt, they were given equal billing to Robin. They are all equally as interesting, each with their own background and reasons for being who and where they are. There are no clichés here, which it would have surely been very easy to fall into, resulting in a live action Disney feel. None of that. Steven’s Guy of Gisbourne is an excellent creation. He is truly nasty, thoroughly without scruples and absolutely perfectly written. Dark and deadly, more so than I’ve seen before and all the more interesting for that.

Speaking of writing, it’s an easy writing style to get into and very, very hard to come away from. Once we’re deep in Sherwood forest, we’re deep in ‘can’t put it down’ territory. It’s not a ‘no frills’ style, it’s an addictively objective style, that lets the story and the aims come forward, the characters shine through. One of the aims is clearly to entertain, that it does in abundance. There’s just the right amount of everything. Tension, action, pathos, excitement. The plot all holds together, there are no plot twists based on coincidences, the book delivers on all fronts, with style and content.

If you were perhaps thinking Robin Hood had been done to death, had gone everywhere it was possible to go, think again. Steven McKay’s Robin is full of vigour, youthful energy and promise for the future.

You can buy The Wolf and the Raven from Amazon

Related reviews on Speesh Reads:

Wolf's HeadOutlaw

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