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Nottingham: No King. No Rules.    by Nathan Makaryk order for
by Nathan Makaryk
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's an unusual, Machiavellian Robin Hood rewrite, sketched in all the shades of gray, Nathan Makaryk's Nottingham. I'm not sure I liked it but it is certainly intriguing, with a strong vein of satire.

It's mainly set in 1191 England, after a brief visit with King Richard on Crusade. There we meet Robin of Locksley and his close friend William de Wendenal, whose job it is to vact as body doubles for Richard. That is, until the King dispatches them to Nottingham to investigate what happened to missing supplies of weapons.

Everyone, it seems, is both a good guy and a bad guy in this novel, except perhaps for Nottingham's Sheriff, Roger de Lacy, who actually seems to be trying his best. Robin's band, if it was ever his, are rarely behind him, and Marion has her own, very pragmatic agenda.

Lady Marion Fitzwalter (granddaughter of the Earl of Essex) had worked closely with Robin's estranged father (despite a dark history between their families), to help those in need. As a result, Locksley Castle hosted a community of refugees from taxation - until it was destroyed just before Robin and William's return from the Holy Land.

Marion ran a band of outlaws, assigning them to rob convoys, avoiding injury, in order to feed the refugees. She saw herself as 'a river, slowly eroding centuries of selfishness.' One time, her people stole from the wrong caravan - weapons, not food. This mistake triggered what follows, as did Robin's sparing a young assassin in Acre.

It's a convoluted tale with a variety of actors of all classes, filled with misunderstandings and betrayals, good intentions and bad - and there's more than one Robin Hood in it. Though far from the legend, I suspect this version, depressing as it is, is much closer to reality.

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