Lionhearts (Nottingham 2)
Nathan Makaryk’s sophomore novel picks up some months after the shocking conclusion of his first, Nottingham. In this Game-of-Thrones-like treatment of the Robin Hood myth, Makaryk shakes everything we thought we knew about the characters of legend and scatters those preconceptions like dice rolling across a scarred betting table.
Will Scarlet, Arthur à Bland, and David of Doncaster leave the Sherwood Forest to sneak back into Nottingham in an effort to strengthen Robin Hood’s band. Meanwhile, Marion and Little John also abandon the forest, leading a bedraggled group of peasants across England in search of safe harbor.
Neither team finds exactly what they want, encountering instead complications that are bloody, convoluted, and, mostly, entertaining. The Red Lion gang in Nottingham is led by an old friend of Will’s and his merciless lover. Marion’s safe harbor proves to be both more frivolous and more treacherous than she had imagined. All this while, England strains under the weight of the chancellor’s demand that every person provide a quarter of his or her wealth to pay the kidnapped King Richard’s ransom.
This isn’t a book for sticklers of historical accuracy: The characters swear with modern words, the women are unusually conscious of their gendered state, and history has been tweaked. But for readers looking for a memorable story, characters to both love and hate, and ethical quandaries, this is an enjoyable read.