March 16th 1322. Rebellion is rife, and an uneven battle between the Earl of Lancaster’s army and the forces of King Edward II, led by Sir Andrew Harclay, is taking place. Who should be caught between a rock and a hard place, why none other than Robin Hood and his fellow outlaws fighting in support of the Earl of Lancaster.
Things appear to be going well until the sheer number of the Kings men take their toll and the rebels are forced to flee into the woods of Yorkshire. Battered and bruised, Robin’s men re-assemble at their camp, whilst other elements of the Earl’s men have fragmented and are trying to survive in the woods, some using violence towards nearby villagers, as the only way to survive and gather supplies.
The King is furious with what has happened during his absence, and hires none other than Guy of Gisbourne to ‘aid’ the Sheriff of Nottingham in capturing and punishing these ‘criminals’ or Wolves. Gisbourne quickly sets about his work and is soon on the trail of Robin and his men. However, there is also an enemy from within that Robin must be mindful of if his men and he are to survive.
Being the second book in the well-crafted The Forest Lord-series, The Wolf and the Raven picks up the story where Wolf’s Head left readers hungry for more. Having been compared to masters of the genre such as Bernard Cornwall and Simon Scarrow, author Steven A. McKay has found a surprisingly successful way to reinvigorate the story of Robin Hood, boldly taking the hero of Nottingham out of his familiar setting, and adding new layers to the legend we think we know – shedding a new and markedly different light on its characters.
With The Wolf and the Raven, McKay gives a good insight into how it would have been for such a young leader of equally desperate and disowned men. Likewise a view of the animosity between rival Earls and Lords is given, showing that very few could be relied upon and trusted. The Wolf and the Raven is a very good read, which has you thinking you’ve got it all worked out and then there’s another twist to keep you guessing. This is certainly one of those books that certainly isn’t straight forward, that will keep you reading through the night, and is thoroughly enjoyable. “Loose arrows!!”