Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Tony Lee

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I was not in the mood for trying to write about Paradise Lost last night, so I thought I’d take a Milton break and read something else on my shelf. After I finished I Kill Giants (read my thoughts) two weeks ago, I’d felt a strange compulsion to go check out some more graphic novels. It’s only strange because I have never felt that before! Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood caught my attention from the YA shelf at the library, and last night was the perfect time for a little folkloric fun.

I’ve been meaning to read the Robin Hood story, and this one was as good as any. Written by Tony Lee and illustrated by Sam Hart and Artur Fujita, Outlaw captures many facets of the tradition. As in most traditions, Robin is the Earl of Loxley, returning home from the crusades; John Little was the previous leader of the outlaws; Marian is the love interest who helps the outlaws; the outlaws steal from the rich to give to the poor; and King John attempts to usurp the throne from King Richard. It all works out well in the end.

Because I’m familiar with the story, I wasn’t reading this so much for the familiar but to see what they did differently. Reading as a graphic novel was the most interesting aspect. I enjoyed Sam Hart and Artur Fujuita’s illustrations. They were full-color and detailed, which was both good and bad. I liked the gorgeous sweeping full-page illustrations, but as I read the smaller panels, each detailed bearded man blended with the next and I struggled to tell them apart.  However, I was reading it quickly. (Visit the Amazon Page and click “Look inside” to see samples of the illustrations.)

I liked the author’s interesting story arch. Robin wants to revenge his father’s death, and he wants to prove himself as “that good.” His father had been unable to save a friend who’d been sent to the gallows, and Robin Hood is determined to never let that happen. Robin’s story comes full circle by the end.

I liked reading this version of the legend, and I also enjoyed the note at the end of the book (by Allen W. Wright, Robin Hood expert) about how the legend has evolved. There are so many sources for this story, and what “really happened” could have been far different from all of them, since it’s evolved over the past millennia.Being a classics geek, I was most interested to hear that Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe has Robin Hood as a supporting character.I am not completely finished with Robin Hood. Outlaw was certainly a fun perspective on the legend.

What folkloric legends are you fascinated with?

Do you have a favorite Robin Hood retelling or movie?

Reviewed on May 18, 2010

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • For some reason, Robin Hood is one of those legends that just never interested me, kind of like Paul Bunyun never interested me. But I guess I’m not so much into fairy tales and folklore, unless it’s folklore I’ve never heard of before (like I loved reading the Czech folklore in Puppet Master).

    • Amanda, Paul Bunyun never interested me either. Not sure why. But I do like fairy tales. I’m curious to hear bout this Czech folklore. (Sorry, behind on reader again. It’s probably there already!)

      • It was awhile back, a children’s story called Puppet Master by Joanne Owen.
        .-= Amanda´s last post on blog ..Little Children, by Tom Perrotta =-.

  • First, I have to say that Men in Tights is excellent. Cary Elwes is just awesome. Other than that I’ve seen Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the BBC television series Robin Hood. I plan on seeing the new Robin Hood with Russell Crowe as well. I adore the legend for some reason.
    .-= Trisha´s last post on blog ..Book Review: The Danish Girl =-.

  • I’m with Amanda, Robin Hood is not my favorite legend. I liked Men in Tights, if only for Cary Elwes’s absolutely perfect imitation of Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood, but in general I don’t seek out Robin Hood retellings. Or King Arthur either – King Arthur, I always think I’m going to love those stories, and I never do.
    .-= Jenny´s last post on blog ..Review: The Dud Avocado, Elaine Dundy (NYRB Classics) =-.

    • Jenny, I have never read King Arthur. That gets me thinking.

      PS Random fact that you may care about: Did you know that Milton, in his early years, wanted to do an epic about King Arthur? I guess you and I can both be glad he decided on the Adam and Eve story instead. I can’t imagine….

  • I don’t know if I have a favorite folk take. I am not enthralled by Robin Hood, but I do think his story is interesting. But not to the point of seeking out retellings of it, if that makes sense. I guess the one that draws my attention the most would be King Arthur. I do like retellings of that, in many forms!
    .-= Aarti´s last post on blog ..Review: Memoirs of an Anti-Semite =-.

    • Aarti, I actually didn’t seek it out. I just HAPPENED to be looking at new graphic novels and this just HAPPENED To jump into my hands and say “read me.” Isn’t that convenient? 🙂

      Funny you comment that you love King ARthur as Jenny just said she doesn’t! I don’t think I’ve read any of those stories. Sounds like I should.

  • You can’t beat the Disney version of Robin Hood in my opinion! My dad used to whistle the theme song to my brother and me, and I couldn’t believe it when my grandpa told me he was childhood best friends with Roger Miller, who wrote that theme song! Miller was pretty young when he left Oklahoma and he and my grandpa didn’t stay in touch, but it was fun to think about anyway.
    I also enjoy Men in Tights. I’m not really excited about the new movie, even though I’m sure I’ll see it and enjoy it at some point, but it seems odd that I’ve already seen two big Robin Hood movies come out during my lifetime and it doesn’t seem like we should have another one already.
    .-= Lindsey Sparks´s last post on blog ..NYC Reading =-.

    • Lindsey Sparks, I admit, it’s the Disney version I always think of first since we had it when I was a kid! Love the songs, so thanks to you grandpa’s friend!

      It does say something about the popularity of the myth that so many movies and books are made about it!

  • I agree with Lindsey, I’m a sucker for the Disney version. I’ve only seen bits of Men in tights but I should try it again. And I did not know that Robin Hood was in Ivanhoe! That’s another classic I’d like to try. Maybe I’ll try to add it to my summer reading list.
    .-= Karenlibrarian´s last post on blog ..Found books =-.

  • Actually, in most versions of the legend John Little wasn’t the previous leader of the Outlaws. He was just the guy that knocked Robin off the bridge and became his best friend. lol

      • XD I think, but I’m not sure, that the idea of Little John being the previous leader started with ‘Prince of Thieves’. Have you ever read the version of Robin Hood written by the guy with the last name of Gilbert? He put some really interesting changes into it, but still managed to pull off a good and enjoyable story.

        • Tam » yeah, probably Prince of Thieves influenced me. I’ve seen that a few times. I haven’t read that version of the tradition by Gilbert. I should find one like it to read to my young son. Good reminder.

          • Ohh, yes. This one might work for that. It was sold as an inexpensive Wordsworth’s Children’s edition, so it was even aimed at younger people. Though I think they rate it nine to twelve on the Coles Books site.

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