Series: The Wode, 01
Author: J. Tullos Hennig
Genre: High Fantasy, Historical (1185/1190), England
Length: Super Novel (350pgs)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (18th January 2013)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts
Blurb: The Hooded One. The one to breathe the dark and light and dusk between….
When an old druid foresees this harbinger of chaos, he also sees whom it will claim: young Rob of Loxley. Rob’s mother and father, a yeoman forester and a wisewoman, have raised Rob and his sister, Marion, under a solemn duty: to take their parents’ places in the Old Religion as the manifestations of the Horned Lord and the Lady Huntress.
But when Gamelyn Boundys, son of a powerful nobleman, is injured in the forest, he and Rob begin a friendship that challenges both duty and ideology: Gamelyn is a devout follower of the Catholic Church. Rob understands the divide between peasant and noble all too well. And the old druid has foreseen that Gamelyn is destined to be Rob’s sworn enemy—to fight in a blood sacrifice for the greenwode’s Maiden.
In a risky bid for happiness, Rob dares the Horned Lord to reinterpret the ancient rites—to allow Rob to take Gamelyn as a lover instead of a rival. But in the eyes of Gamelyn’s church, lust is a sin—and sodomy is unthinkable.
Review: Rob is the son of the forester and firmly believes in the pagan Gods; he is being groomed to take the place of his father as the Horned Lord. Gamelyn is the third son of a nobleman and is firmly steeped in the Catholic Church; he isn’t sure of his future, but has thoughts that he will join the church. When the two meet, it sets them on a course that is steeped in confusion, hope, love, betrayal and danger. Can you really take on the Gods and change the course they have placed you on?
This story takes a legend of folklore, Robin Hood, and gives us a rich, descriptive tale of his beginnings and his doomed love. Rob and Gamelyn are worlds apart; one is the son of a forester, the other the son of a nobleman. Gamelyn has no clue as to the real world; he thinks everyone is treated the same, and everyone gets the same fairness as the nobles do. Rob knows the truth of the matter, having been witness to the many injustices served to the peasants, which is made worse because many of them still worship the pagan ways.
The conflict in the book is much more spiritual than you would first think, the pagans just wanting to be left alone to live their lives, while the Christians demand penance from all who live. The setting of such an early time (1190) was a time of still great conflict for those who didn’t follow the White Christ (Jesus), a time when they were declared heathens and witches, and the Church was set to wipe them off the face of the earth. It was a time when the nobles truly believed every word written in the bible, and the nuns and monks were treated with reverence and the higher in the church they were, the more godlike they were treated. One pagan, one Christian, drawn together against the odds, finding a love that is forbidden by the church. This is one of those stories that draws you in with the mystical setting of Greenwode; it tells the tale of a young Robyn fighting against what is expected of him by the pagan ways and the destruction that befalls him because of his love. Gamelyn is stuck in a world that would never allow his love, a nobleman’s son and a peasant or two men, no matter which way that it was looked at; it was forbidden, and it shows his anguish as he tries to resolve his beliefs in God with what he sees around him.
I loved this story for taking a legend and giving it a twist; I loved the way that it shows the clear line between peasants and nobles, and between the pagans and Christians. Both sides are shown well, drawing us into the conflict of a time that was cruel, and of the destruction caused because something is different. As we progress through the book, you really don’t know what will happen, how can these two young men be together when they are from different worlds? This book takes the Robin Hood legend and gives it a whole new standing… the beginning of a legend.
I have to recommend this to those who love folklore, mystical legends, historicals, fighting for a love against insurmountable odds, danger, betrayal and an ending that is devastating while giving you faint hope.