Sherwood Forest

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Written by: Lisa Croll Di Dio

Published by: Publish America

Reviewed by Ismael Manzano



     Today Iím reviewing another incarnation of that timeless classic tale of Robin Hood, in Lisa Croll Di Dioís Sherwood Forest.  Only, unlike the many television and movie remakes of the old yarn, this one is goodóbetter than that, itís a bold interpretation.  I havenít had a chance to read many of the Robin Hood stories but of the few that I have read, none come close to this richly woven tapestry of literature.

     It follows Lord Robert Chaltham, a nobleman as he encounters and falls in love with Marianóthe Maiden of Sherwood Forest, Queen Mother and keeper of the Old Ways.  Robert dons the mantle of Robin Goodfellow, protector to the Maid, but as a noblemen under the scrutiny of the devout Bishop, Robin must lead a double life, balancing between his duties as lord and his duties to the Goddess.  Because of Robinís leniency toward all religions in a land that has traditionally been exclusively Christian, the Bishop suspects him of heresy and is determined to see his crimes brought before the purifying light of the Church. 

     In the forest of Sherwood, Robin finds a peace he has never before known and with Marian at his side, he learns the true depths of love, passion and loyalty.  He learns of the Old Ways, of magic and of the many beautiful mysteries of the forest that has always been like a second home to him.  It isnít long before his devotion to the forest and its inhabitants become paramount in his life and his life as a nobleman takes a backseat to what he considers to be a truly noble cause. 

     But the world is changing and followers of the Old Ways are slowly being weeded out, hunted, tortured and exterminated.  Together with their band of witches and Merry Men, Robin and Marian attempt to turn back the tide of change and prejudice, standing against mounting odds, unseen dangers and religious fanatics, to keep sacred the magic and tradition of Sherwood Forest. 

     Sherwood Forest is one of those truly speculator gems of the literary world and the author spins a wonderful story for both fans of the old tales and thoseólike meóthat have been itching for something new.  She takes great liberties with the legend.  So far removed from the original is Sherwood Forest, that but for a few familiar names and one landmark forest, it could have easily been a completely separate entity and still remained an enjoyable read.  Still, the familiar locales and personas do add intrigue to the plot and left me turning page after page to see how Di Dio reconstruct the old favorite.

     One might argue that the book, while beautifully written and engaging, runs a little long, but with mystery, witchcraft, sex, love, suspense and danger at every page, it was well worth the excess.

     Di Dio even goes so far as to explain how this richly innovative tale came to be told the way it is known today. 

     With a beguiling prose, wonderful and admirable characters, and action packed scenes that run the gauntlet of emotions, Sherwood Forest would have done well in the mainstream market under a more widely known publishing label.  Publish America has a real prize in Di Dio and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. 

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Related links: Days of Old

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