From Medieval Book Reviews
The Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian
by Kathryn Lasky
Wonderful modern retelling of a
classic tale and a must for the medieval lover's collection
What was the early life
of Maid Marian? What was Robin Hood like as a young boy?
What historic events surrounded those who now have become legends in
our own time? How did the band of Merry form? Who was Maid
Marian? History doesn't tell us much about her.
Known as Matty Fitzwalter in her childhood, the legendary Maid Marian
learned the art of falconry from her father Lord William
Fitzwalker. She dreams of capturing, taming and training a merlin
-- the one bird which will mark her as an expert falconer. Matty
has a magical rapport with the birds that she trains. She speaks
their language. Fynn, the man whom legend would come to
know as Robin Hood, is a mischievous boy, stealing pigs from the
sheriff's cousin and deer from the royal forests to feed people.
Like Matty, Fynn strives for bigger and better things but he always has
a way of making a joke out of his exploits. Matty feels that Fynn
and his friends do not take her seriously. She struggles for his
attention, but she never veers from her passion for falconry.
Both, however, will remember the times and their youthful friendship.
Matty and Fynn grow up during troubled times. The people struggle
in poverty while the tyranny of Prince John crushes them. Lord
William Fitzwalter sides with Richard the Lionhearted, only to see the
brutality of Prince John's sabotage and his sheriff.
Despite the horrific loss of her mother, Matty is not a fair helpless
damsel. Previously friends, now older, Matty and Fynn work
together. As they uncover a secret plot to steal the throne, Matty and
her special merlin Marigold become the key for rescuing stolen jewels
to provide for the King's ransom. In order to help save the king,
Matty and her magical falconry skills will have to reach a new height.
Newberry award winning author Kathryn Lasky's HAWKSMAID is a wonderful
modern retelling of a classic tale, full of exciting adventure,
medieval history, an intimate look at falconry and just a bit of
romance for young readers. Not only do we get a glance of the
youth of Maid Marian and Robin Hood, but also those events in their
lives that lead up to the legend with which we are all familiar.
Modern women and young women will appreciate the focus on Matty and
Maid Marian as they see her not as a helpless woman playing second
fiddle but as a key figure in the story. Kathryn Lasky combines
historical detail with fictional imagination to create a story that
appeals to the desire to explore history while also being more
approachable to modern day readers. Animal lovers will appreciate
the author's attention to the birds themselves and Matty's friendship
with them. A beautifully written, almost mystical scene perfectly
balances the history and animal-keeping science. The setting of
the story, while very medieval, resonates slightly with modern
Sensitive readers may find the mother's murder at the beginning of the
tale difficult, but the violence is not gratuitous but rather shows the
villains for the wicked people they are. Without those scenes,
Matty and Fynn's subsequent actions would not be driven by the
characters and their history. From those initial scenes, the
story quickly moves on to focus on Matty and her hawks and the
adventure. HAWKSMAID is an excellent work of medieval fiction for
modern young readers. If you are an adult reader with a passion
for all things medieval, like this reader, HAWKSMAID is a fun, exciting
book to add to your collection! While grounded in medieval
history and legend, Kathryn Lasky also adds a delightful original twist!
Reviewed by Merrimon,
Medieval Book Reviews