Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wolfshead by Craig Charlesworth

Title: Wolfshead
Author: Craig Charlesworth
Length: 6218 Kindle units
Rating: 4 stars

The Plot

Ordinarily I write my own plot summary for these posts. But today I am going to share with you the exact review request I got from the author, because I truly feel it must be experienced.

“Wolfshead is – at its most basic – a retelling of the original Robin Hood ballads of the middle-ages, but one which takes place against a backdrop of magic and mysticism. This version of Robin is a teenager, and as such often lacks confidence in his abilities, but he is thrust into the role of community leader when his father is taken prisoner by the Sheriff of Nottingham. In this retelling, Robin is a resurrected prince of the Faeries, who died many thousands of years ago but has been brought back to life to do battle with his evil brother Loki, in whose interests the sheriff acts. The cast includes witches, giants, and vampires as well as many of the traditional characters such as Guy of Gisbourne and Will Scarlet.”

Now, if you’re at all like me, I’m sure as soon as you read that, you thought, “Well, this I’ve 
GOT to see.”

The Good

All mocking aside, Wolfshead was a pretty good read. We all like a good Robin Hood story about the Chaotic Good hero triumphing over the Lawful Evil regime that may or may not bear more resemblance to the modern political structure than we would like. And it’s fun to see a twist on the old paganism vs. Christianity trope where we come down on the side of the nature gods.

I liked how this version gave Robin Hood a backstory to explain how Robert the normal teenager became an outlaw to save his town. (Though I was a little dumbfounded at the beginning when Robert performed terribly at the village archery competition.) All in all, I thought the story was good as an origin myth.

The Bad

I find the basic premise of the book delightfully absurd, which means that some people are going to find it completely ridiculous. And I confess, I did laugh a bit when Puck explains to Robert that he is the reincarnation of his brother. Laugh at, not with. But I got past it. I was a little more troubled when Robert told a bunch of other people that he was a reborn faerie because, well, yeah, not too believable.

Other than that, my biggest issue was that there was too much focus on a lot of minor characters. A lot of this seemed to go with the old-fashioned-book writing style (which for the most part worked quite well), where I think one used to see a lot of similar meandering away from the story. But nowadays it’s just annoying and takes away from the overarching story. I just… don’t care that much about the incompetent cook or the conflicted torturer when I could be reading main story.

Also, there were no vampires. I was promised vampires, and their lack was very upsetting to me.

The Romance

Like many traditional stories with a predominantly male cast, the romance was seemed like an afterthought and was fairly simplistic. We know that Robin Hood has to have his Maid Marian, and what they did with her was pretty interesting. She was a noblewoman without any money who had to work for Sir Richard. And of course both Robert and his nemesis Guy instantly fell in love with her. But other than her existence, Marian didn’t have too much to do with the story.

Of slightly more import was Will Scathelock’s sister Bryony, who grew up in Locksley with Robert and whom everyone thought he would marry. Of course, Robert feels that he likes her well enough, but doesn’t have that special romantic bond. Which is totally fair. But since she’s from the town, and the book is all about saving the town, she gets to do more plot-relevant things, like help carry the children to refuge at the church.

Will I read more?

I’m mostly meh on it. Not because it wasn’t a good book. It’s just not really “my thing.” I know, I know. Sometimes I’m such a girl.

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1 comment:

  1. All in all, the premise is interesting, at least. But Elizabeth loves her some don't promise what you can't deliver.