The tale of Robin Hood is one of the most beloved and familiar stories in popular culture. Even Doctor Who tackled the myth in Season 8. We have had a few goes at the tale, with countless feature films, a Disney cartoon and even a popular BBC Show a few years back. When I was sent a copy of Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane-Mark of the Black Arrow, I wasn’t sure what exactly to make of it. Written by Debbie Viguie and James R. Tuck, the book focuses on the origin story of Robin Hood at a time of great crisis. The crusades call good king Richard the Lionheart to leave England and fight to preserve the Christian faith. He takes many of the strong men with him and puts his brother, John, in charge of the Kingdom until he returns. Robin Longstride remains behind to help care for his family, as his father and eldest brother head for the crusades. Marian, the beloved adopted daughter of Richard, also remains behind. John, it appears, and his Sheriff are heavily involved in the Dark Arts and wish to usurp power permanently. Will Scarlett becomes John’s right-hand man in an attempt to find out information, while Marian tries desperately to get word to Richard of the goings on. Friar Tuck and others secretly meet in Sherwood forest to create a secret task force to end John’s reign of terror, and bring Robin into the fold.
Mark of the Black Arrow is one dark book. In the first few pages, a woman is burned for witchcraft. Later in the book Prince John kills small children and families by hanging them. In short, Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane- Mark of the Black Arrow takes no prisoners and is more than happy to show a vicious and terrifying view of Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham. While we’ve seen the Sheriff as something of a dark arts fiend before (looking at you Alan Rickman) this book goes so much farther into his capabilities and the powers of those he gathers. While I was truly surprised by how much of the book focuses on witchcraft, after doing a quick search of Debbie Viguie’s other books I’m not surprised. She focuses heavily on the more religious aspects of fiction and has many more options if this is your speed. It also explains why one of the chief weapons in the book is the Enochian language. There are also mentions of the powerful fey folk and a few encounters with them as well.
Fans of Supernatural or darker Robin Hood stories will enjoy Robin Hood- Demon’s Bane: Mark of the Black Arrow.
Robin Hood- Demon’s Bane: Mark of the Black Arrow is now available from Titan Books.