Read Robin and the King by Parke Godwin Free Online
Book Title: Robin and the King|
The author of the book: Parke Godwin
Edition: William Morrow & Company
Date of issue: June 1st 1993
ISBN 13: 9780688052744
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 651 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.6
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Impressively atmospheric and consistently enjoyable adaptation of the Robin Hood legend, displaced backwards in time from the commonest interpretation by some six score of years with Robin portrayed herein by Edward Aelredson, the best and the brightest of the native Saxon bucolic thanedom as set against both local Norman intrusion—depicted by Ralf FitzGerald, Vicomte and Sheriff of Nottingham, initially Robin's arch-nemesis (as related in R&TK's prequel, Sherwood) but by the opening pages having evolved into an appreciative ally—and royal overlordship, the consequence of Duke William of Normandy's seizure of the throne of England. The county aristocracy of Saxon blood sit uneasily under the Norman hand, and most especially once an ambitious young Norman spitfire, Ranulf Flambard, is installed as the chief minister of King William and de facto ruler with the latter spending lengthy sojourns across the Channel in Normandy, attending to his ailing wife and Queen.
When Flambard executes a capital sentence upon one of these Saxon thanes and seeks to expand the king's rights into the local commons, Robin challenges the act in a shire moot and brings the wrathful eye of the king down upon him. This serves as an excuse for Robin to be exiled from England and spend a considerable amount of time in the presence of both the king himself and his son, Prince William, colloquially referred to by his nickname of Rossel. With Robin saving the life of the king from an attempted raid by Danish brigands during their Channel crossing, and subsequently assisting the prince in his efforts to combat incursions into the disputed fief of the Vexin by the demesne vassals of Philip, the cocky young King of France, he becomes well-placed to work his honour-honed and liberty-loving Saxon political philosophy upon his Norman lieges, who come to respect this crazy man from the vast island now under their rule and his witty remonstrations, while yet unable to comprehend their source nor endure the impertinence they present to their attempt to reduce the entire stubborn realm beneath the iron bonds of feudalism.
Godwin here takes the Robin Hood mythology, well-known to all and sundry, and gives it a twist that appealed deeply to that fascination I harbour for the Conquest of 1066. Godwin's Saxons, ill-resigned to being ruled by such a stringently-tiered society as that of the Norman French, nevertheless have sworn their fealty to the king, and they are depicted as a people who take matters of bond and oath as seriously as they do the individual liberties and freedoms promised to them through custom and common law. Robin is quite prepared to fight the Normans and the French at their own game; and the scenes where Robin deftly uses the intricacies of feudal law to achieve satisfaction—substituting guile for the brawn that will be required later—are some of the best (even leaving aside Godwin's one unnecessary inclusion, the implantation of the modern trope of the child predator into the otherwise loathsome enough chief baron of France's Vexin invasion army). Robin's wife, Marian—a former serving girl to the Norman Queen—and his band of Merry Men are relegated to the background for a goodly portion of the story. This is Robin's show, and he is mostly partnered to the Norman father and son who desire the riches of the English realm while chafing at the insufferable and irrepressible spiritedness of its stubborn subjects. Rossel, ill-treated in the histories written by the clerics that he held in contempt, is given a more measured appraisal: starting out as a brave but dissolute youth—bedding woman and man with abandon, cynical and blasphemous and estranged from his dying mother—who must gradually accept the responsibilities of the throne of England and Robin's efforts to persuade him to be a just and fair ruler. And in the razor-witted and -tongued Flambard, Godwin crafts a murderously suave lawyer whose lusts for power and riches are hidden behind, and dependent upon, his efforts to expand the demesne of his conquering sovereign. It makes for a departure from the usual fare, but a welcome one as far as I was concerned.
Godwin's attention to the details of medieval legalities, the intricate rituals of aristocratic life, the chaotic energy of hand-to-hand combat, and the grimy, sweaty, ill-kempt condition of life in the camp of a traveling feudal levy were adeptly tailored to his fast-moving story and only added to my enjoyment of the whole—especially in that I read this book immediately upon finishing Marc Bloch's epic two part series on feudal society. There is little of romance or chivalry, boisterous merriment and pennant-bedecked jousts, corrupt sheriffs or cowardly, placeholder kings hiding behind castle walls—this is legend presented with all of the realism of a narrative chronicled as it unfolded in history's pages. Frankly, the story is the better for it.
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Read information about the authorParke Godwin was an American writer known for his lyrical yet precise prose style and sardonic humor. He was also known for his novels of legendary figures placed in realistic historical settings; his retelling of the Arthur legend (Firelord in 1980, Beloved Exile in 1984, and The Last Rainbow in 1985) is set in the 5th century during the collapse of the Roman empire, and his reinterpretation of Robin Hood (Sherwood, 1991, and Robin and the King, 1993) takes place during the Norman conquest and features kings William the Conqueror and William Rufus as major characters. His other well-known works include Waiting For The Galactic Bus (1988) and its sequel The Snake Oil Wars (1989), humorous critiques of American pop culture and religion.
Parke Godwin also worked as a radio operator, a research technician, a professional actor, an advertising man, a dishwasher and a maitre d' hotel.
Godwin's short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. His short story "Influencing the Hell out of Time and Teresa Golowitz," was the basis of an episode of the television series The Twilight Zone.
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