Wolf's Head reviewed by Stuart Laing
When you take such a well known and well loved tale as Robin Hood and his Merry Men it would be only too easy to go down that well trodden path so familiar to all who know the legend. "Hail fellow and well met!" greetings between rosy cheeked outlaws who dress in green tights and short tunics like medieval tranvestites while swinging through Sherwood Forest laughing like giddy schoolboys. It was therefore a delight to read this book and find that Steven A. McKay has taken the legend, given it a good shake and let this thoroughly enjoyable version fall out.
From the very first page you find yourself in Yorkshire rather than Nottinghamshire, in the village of Wakefield rather than Loxley. Here Robin is a common man who through a moment of anger is forced into fleeing his home, his family and his love Mathilda. These changes add a genuine fresh twist to the tale which adds so much to the book.
His travails in the wild woods as he is forced into seeking the company of a band of outlaws in order to survive allows the author to introduce some well known names while fleshing out their characters and giving them a background history which makes them feel like real people. What all these outlaws have in common is by and large they have been forced into a life of theft and murder through forces beyond their control. Rich landlords, royal officials and sheriffs are the villains of the piece here and there are plenty of stand-out scenes which allows you to cheer on Robin and his friends as they battle the forces of oppression.
|Men in tights? Not here you don't|
While most of the regular characters appear here, they seem new, believable and above all true to their period. Their language is robust and not for the easily offended, but will be familiar, and have the ring of authenticity, to anyone who has worked with other men as part of a team. The violence is frequent, bloody and merciless but again reflects how hard, unrelenting and short life was then.
All in all this is a book which should appeal to all who enjoy a good old page turner that keeps you gripped until the end.
The book itself ends on a cliffhanger as Robin and his men are coerced into joining forces with an ambitious warlord which leaves the door open for further adventures.
I look forward to the next instalment of Wolfs Head.
The sequel to Wolf's Head, The Wolf and the Raven will be available shortly and to celebrate its release Steven A. McKay is offering a signed paperback copy of Wolf's Head to one lucky winner.
To be entered for the draw simply leave a comment on this blog or here on our Facebook page.