You who so plod amid serious things that you feel it shame to give yourself up even for a few short moments to mirth and joyousness in the land of Fancy; you who think that life hath not to do with innocent laughter that can harm no one; these pages are not for you.
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Published 1883 by Scribner’s
Format: print; 376 pages
Also From This Author: The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, Men of Iron, Otto of the Silver Hand
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My Rating: 5/5
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?
Quoth Robin Hood, snuffing the air, “Here is a fair day, Little John, and one that we can ill waste in idleness.”
If you know me well you know that I am in love with Robin Hood (like, if he showed up on my doorstep I would run away to Sherwood Forest with him in a heartbeat). I’ve been intrigued by the legend of Robin Hood since I first saw Disney’s animated Robin Hood (1973), which is also why the fox is my favorite animal (though I have a fondness for roosters, too).
So why is it that I have waited so long to read Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood?! It’s probably for the best though, since I don’t think I would have understood much of the Old English language if I read this as a kid.
My favorite part of Pyle’s classic is of course the characters. Besides Robin, I also really loved the stories of Will Scarlet and Sir Richard of the Lea. Little John is as lovable as ever. Pyle perfectly describes him as a “great, faithful dog,” when it comes to his relationship with Robin. I found myself smiling at how effortless it was for other characters to pledge their honor to Robin. Each adventure followed a similar pattern: Robin would encounter someone who was on a quest or who needed help, he’d lend them a hand (or money, or his men), and at the end of the day all would be set right and Robin would have a new friend.
Robin Hood himself is so charming and hopeful that even the most destitute characters he comes in contact with can’t help but be infected by his infectious personality:
The Knight shook his head with a faint smile, but for all that Robin’s words made him more blithe of heart, for in truth hope, be it ever so faint, bringeth a gleam into darkness, like a little rushlight that costeth but a groat.
Read This Book If…:
…there is at least one adventurous bone in your body
…you love reading about legendary characters
…you enjoy a book that can make you laugh, gasp, and cry
…you’re into historical fiction
This book is not a fast read, but it is an exciting one! Each of Robin Hood’s adventures left me surprised, and even though I knew he would find a way to escape unscathed, I still found myself caught up in the suspense and action. For someone who was already enamored by Robin Hood, finally getting to read about his adventures only made me love him more!
“So my aching heart seeks thine, love
There to find its rest and peace,
For, though loving, bliss is mine, love,
And my many troubles cease.”
BONUS! Check back tomorrow for my (very late) post about a Robin Hood musical I saw earlier this year!
4 thoughts on “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle”
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I. Love. Robin Hood. Ever since that same Disney animated adaptation! Still my favorite animated movie. To my everlasting glee, when I showed it to my kids last month, they fell enthusiastically in love with it, and now we play Robin Hood a lot :-) I had a different version from Pyle’s that I read a lot as a kid, and I only recently picked up my own copy of Pyle’s. I did read it once, as a teen, but I don’t remember it really well, other than just being a retelling of the Robin Hood story.
I have a rule with reading about Robin Hood, though. I refuse to read the last chapter or two of any retelling. That way, I never read about him dying, and if I don’t read it, it never happened, and I can merrily imagine him still skulking about Sherwood Forest to this day :-D
My other favorite movie version is the Disney live-action one starring Richard Todd. Charming! I like Errol Flynn’s too. But neither of them beat the animated. That particular Robin Hood is so, well, foxy! Love him.
I felt like crying after finishing the last chapter of this book. There was even a warning at the beginning about closing the book if you didn’t want to read the sad part. But it was a warm kind of sad, if that makes sense, mostly because of Little John.
I love the Errol Flynn version! It’s my favorite movie from the 30s, but I do love “foxy” Robin as well (who wouldn’t?) ;)
Aww, what a nice warning! Definitely bumping this up my to-read list.