In this gay romantic fantasy, the old tales of “Robyn” Hood are reworked in a way I’ve longed for for years. The conflict is not just over oppressive, illegitimate government and taxes, but between Christian and the Old Religion, between the “Greenwode” that shivers and shelters with sentient life and numbing civilization, between magic and the mundane. This segment of the tale focuses on the archery contest and the rescue of Marion from Nottingham’s oubliette. But very interesting is the twist on Guy of Gisbourne, sent on Crusade as a Templar with Richard Lionheart for past sins, no doubt chronicled in volume one The Greenwode, now returned with a soldier’s skills – and demons.
Readers should be warned 1) of graphic, even brutal, bonded sex, 2) to read the first book first, which might help with pagan images that are sometimes mystical, demanding and unexplained, 3) of the Yorkshire dialect, well-rendered and adding to the atmosphere but probably anachronistic, and 4) some poor editorial choices. I also thought the Templars and the Holy Land got short shrift, but maybe that has come or is coming. Nonetheless, if none of these present hurdles to you, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. The prose is poetic, powerful, insightful. Hennig has a masterful command of weaponry and battle-speak, as well of wode magic. This is a soul-plumbing, life-changing experience.