September 4, 2017 by Anne Barwell
Outlaw’s Legacy #1
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Characters: Robin of Locksley & Will Scathelock
Sub-Genre: Series, Historical
Robin of Locksley is a rebel, more comfortable roaming Sherwood Forest with his longbow and courting the village girls than learning how to run a manor.
An innocent flirtation with a peasant girl soon lands Robin in trouble, and worse, he finds himself inexplicably attracted to Will Scathelock, his best friend since childhood. Robin must decide whether to follow the rules of society or his own conscience.
Meanwhile, his neighbour, Guy of Gisborne, is anxious to get his hands on the Locksley estate and he will do anything to make it happen – even murder.
I’ve always been a huge fan of anything Robin Hood related and this story doesn’t disappoint. The prologue of Heir of Locksley is set shortly after Robin is born. Skip ahead, and Robin is now twelve, and his best friend is called Guy….
One of the things I loved about this story was the history of its characters, and how introducing Guy this early made him more sympathetic as a character at this time of his life. Robin and Guy’s lives are intertwined, and so I thought it was important that we see both men heading down their chosen path in life, and the reasons why. With Guy, it’s not a sudden shift into darkness of character, but a slow progression which I thought was much more realistic.
The writing is very descriptive which makes it easy to visualise each scene. I thought the author captured the feel of the period well, but without romanticising it. There is a ton of foreshadowing for readers familiar with Robin’s story, but this isn’t merely a retelling of it, as the story does far more than that. Other characters have their part to play, many of which are original to this story. I loved the way they all fit like a jigsaw puzzle coming together.
Robin is in denial of his sexuality, while Will, who becomes a part of Robin’s life when he saves him from a spooked horse, is much comfortable in his. The subject of class is handled well too. Will doesn’t have the same expectations on him that Robin does, nor has he been groomed to take over an estate since birth, or have the same choice to be with the person he loves. I liked how Will was written—he’s always been my favourite of the Merry Men—and his reaction to Robin’s actions.
Time skips forward and I loved the glimpses of characters who will one day side with Robin and become a part of his fight. Not only that, but I enjoyed the way in which the author fleshes out those characters as the story progresses by having their family play their part in what is to come. Although this is Robin’s story, other characters are very three-dimensional, with their own fears and needs, and the switch in POV to include them at key moments was well done.
There are a few female characters who play a big part in the story. Some are good people, some very much not, but they’re very much a product of their time. There weren’t many options open to women then.
The story length is quite long, but I didn’t feel at any point as though it dragged. The plot is layered, full of politics, and unwinds at a realistic pace as Robin grows up and becomes aware of the shortcomings of the world around him. The action scenes are well written, and descriptive, yet fast moving. I was on the edge of my seat as one particular scene unfolded into tragedy.
At this point of the story I’d call it more of a LTBTQ retelling, rather than a gay romance, as although there are hints of what is to come between Robin and Will, it is too soon for that yet. As I write this review, I’m about to start the second book in the series, and I’m very much looking forward to it.
I’d recommend Heir of Locksley to readers who enjoy realistic historical fiction, and an in-depth retelling of an already known story, with interesting characters. Highly recommended.