My name is Danielle E. Shipley, and I am a rabid Robin Hood fangirl.
Although, as it happens, I wasn’t always that into the outlaw in tights. And I mean, my loss, because he is so much more than tights, you guys. The man’s a legend for a reason – heck, for five reasons, off the top of my head. So if, merry old England forbid, you have yet to experience the sheer delight of all things Robin Hood, here’s what you’re missing.
1) He’s a total hero. What else do you call a guy who, in many of versions of the tale, gives up the posh lifestyle of a nobleman (or, y’know, as posh as it’s going to get in the notoriously kind-of-gross Middle Ages) to stand up for the rights of the poor and oppressed? He sees injustice, and he takes action, never mind the risk to life, limb, and various other body parts. He may or may not come off as a little hotheaded, but the best of Hoods have hearts of gold. You want a bright beacon in a dark world? There’s a Robin Hood out there with your name on it.
2) He’s also a total bad boy. Sure, most would call Robin Hood the hero Nottingham needs right now, but there are numerous ways to take the outlaw vigilante angle. Maybe he’s in it to “rob from the rich and give to the poor”, and/or could be he’s in it to give to himself – not just the money, but the thrill of living on the wild side. He was, after all, basically a land pirate, the woodland highway his open sea. A roguish rebel, a hard-edged crook, a trickster – he might be portrayed as any of these. So if you’d rather make your hero an antihero, Robin Hood’s got you covered there, too.
3) The Merry Men. Behind every great Robin Hood are a good three to one hundred of his closest pals. Because heists and hijinks aside, these aren’t just stories of lawless adventure: They’re stories of friendship. No retelling’s complete without the Little Johns, Will Scarlets, Maid Marians, and more – the patchwork family there to give all the support and security, love and laughter, and/or ego-checks their leader needs to fight another day. If you want an awesome group dynamic and platonic ‘ships for daaays, hie thee to a merry outlaw band!
4) Archery. For all the variety within the canon, you’ll have a tough time finding a Robin Hood without his trusty longbow. It is to him as Excalibur is to King Arthur; as the TARDIS is to the Doctor; as a honey pot is to Winnie the Pooh. Before Katniss or Merida, Legolas or Hawkeye, there was the best doggone archer in all of ye olde England. So grab your book/movie/TV adaptation of choice, sit back, and watch the arrows fly in style.
5) Sherwood. I ask you: Is there any narrative backdrop as enchanting as a forest? The instant our outlaw steps into the trees, you’ve got the makings of a fairytale. Some versions go so far into fantasy as to make Robin Hood a kind of a fairy himself – a spirit of the wild, a woodland god, or a man in some way favored by them. But even without a supernatural element, you’ve got the smell of green, the sunlight on streams, the fall of leaf-shadow; budding springs and russet autumns; ancient oaks sighing air from an age ago. If you know in your soul that a forest doesn’t need magic to be magic, then join jolly Robin in the greenwood. Both he and the trees will be happy to receive you.
And if you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to Robin Hood, think again! My spin on the lore starts this summer with “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (The Outlaws of Avalon, Book One). The e-book is available for pre-order now (and comes with thank-you gifts! Details here: https://everonword.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/you-cant-miss-it/ ), with paperbacks to follow on July 12, 2016. There’s never been a better time to fall in love with the legend.
Danielle E. Shipley is the author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas, the novel Inspired, and several other expressions of wishful thinking. She has spent most of her life in the Chicago area and increasing amounts of time in Germany. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.