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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tony Venables Hunter of Sherwood series. Riveting medieval thrillers!

Hunter of Sherwood: The Red Hand #2 by Toby Venables 
(A Guy of Gisburne novel)

This medieval story based around a legend of the past combined with riveting action captivates and ensnares.
Guy of Gisburne and Galfrid have returned to England. Pleased to be back after his horrific time in Jerusalem Guy finds himself once more fighting a pitched battle against nameless foes with little more than his intellect,his experience and trusty squire to rely on. Prince John's stronghold at Nottingham has been breached and it's up to Guy to find out who is threatening England. Who has sent John a macabre message written on the skin of one of John's men, signed with a bloodied handprint with the sinister message that 'the circle is closing?' It seems two of John's knights have been murdered and their hands removed.
' A red hand is coming...' a remembered utterance from one of Tancered the renegade Templar's knights in the sewers of Jerusalem. And a new fear...Dragons!
Is Hood involved? He has the perfect alibi. What is happening? Someone or some persons are threatening England. Anarchy and chaos are on the threshold. Prince John calls Guy to solve the mystery, to shed light on the source of the threat.
I love this fresh new take on the Robin Hood myth. Guy of Gisburne is the unsung hero who has steadily grown in stature and leaves in his wake a new legend.  In this retelling of the story of Robin Hood, Guy's support of John is presented in a kinder light. Richard is exposed as a headstrong, careless King who views England merely as a vast source of funds for his beloved Crusades. As Gisburne remarks to John, 'Men are rarely remembered as they truly were...Kings even less so.' Until now I'd whole heartedly supported the traditional Robin Hood story. Now I find myself in charity with John and angry with the selfishness of Richard.
The fact that this series shatters my previous conceived ideas around the legendary figure involved and turns them on their head without causing me to miss a beat is really quite unexpected and all kudos to Toby Venables writing skills. Guy has become my new hero and Robin or rather Hood, the new villain. As the story progresses the slight shift of names amongst Hood's followers is cleverly interwoven as these once familiar characters are reintroduced in a more sinister fashion. Friar Tuck has become FriarTook, a radical, anarchist monk afire with his mission, Will Scarlet is Will Gameswell, now Will the Scarlet, and Little John is John Lytell.
The supposed love triangle between Robin, Marion and Guy is also dealt a swift blow.
Beyond this is Venables flow of descriptive prose. His portrait of a London has you there, on horseback with Gisburne, the flow and ebb of people and animals, the smells and sounds, both harrowing and fearful. Guy's sardonic thoughts about the people telling, 'The survivors formed a species entirely their own...these creature were called Londoners.'
A gripping, fast paced medieval thriller continuing the story and high standard set in the previous title in the Hunter of Sherwood series, Knight of Shadows.

A NetGalley ARC

Hunter of Sherwood: Knight of Shadows #1by Toby Venables
(A Guy of Gisburne novel)

A longtime fan of the various takes on Robin Hood, this foray into the legend took my breath away.
Venables has turned the legend upside down and given Guy of Gisburne a completely new and believable place.
A medieval thriller. A rich, tightly woven plot that never falters and takes us from England to the mercilessness of the Crusades and back, complete with religious artifacts and renegade, fanatical Templars.

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