In the third book in Donald's unconventional series set in a very unmerry Olde England in the late 12th century, the author continues his grim portrayal of Robin Hood as a sadistic thieving killer, telling this gruesome tale through the vivid narrative of Alan Dale, one of Robin's most loyal followers. After fighting for King Richard the Lionheart in the Holy Land during the failed Third Crusade, Robin returns to England to find his lands seized by Sir Ralph Murdac and the country oppressed by Prince John, the royal usurper. When news arrives that King Richard has been captured in Germany, and Robin faces the Church's brutal inquisition for heresy, a clever plan develops to save the king and confound both the Church and prince. Traitors and assassins abound as loyalists switch sides, England is ravaged by Prince John's overzealous tax collectors and Murdac's unrestrained soldiery, and civil war simmers. Even young Alan turns traitor, forswearing his loyalty and betraying all he holds dear. Donald is a masterful storyteller, creating complex plots full of intrigue, treachery, color, and authentic battle scenes of medieval warfare with spear, sword, mace, and axe, where prisoners and the wounded are shown no mercy. Despite-or perhaps because of-all the gore and cruelty, this is convincing historical fiction. (Nov. 13) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
2012-09-10, Publishers Weekly