Copyright Date: 1992, reprinted with a new cover in 2007
The author's page blurb:
It is a time of civil strife and divided loyalties in the land of Richard the Lionhearted, and in the silent shadows of Sherood Forest dwell a band of outlaws and renegades who know no law but their own. Each with a dark secret and a hidden purpose, they share only a desire to thwart the corrupt power of Prince John and ransom back their beloved King Richard. Alan a'Dale, the lusty minstrel; the giant wrestler known as Little John; Will Scarlet, the murderer with a heart of gold; and the kindly, overzealous Friar Tuck. They are strangers...until they are united in a common purpose by a man and a woman who will live forever in the legend of Robin Hood and Maid Marian.
Sir Robert of Locksley Back from Crusade a hero, knighted by the Lionheart himself, he is disillusioned by his country's failure to ransom their king from imprisonment in a foreign land, even as evil Prince John is bleeding England white with taxes and plotting to usurp the throne. Turning his back on the life of an aristocrat, Sir Robert achieves a new nobility among the outlaws of Sherwood. There they call him Robin Hood.
Lady Marian of Ravenskeep The proud and defiant chatelaine of a manor near Nottingham woods, she is relentlessly pursued by William DeLacey-- Sheriff of Nottingham-- a shrewd opportunist desperate for her hand. But there is only one man who claims her heart, and Marian embraces a life full of excitement, adventure, and danger to be at his side.
I bought this book about a year and a half ago, so it definitely fits the requirements for the Clear Off Your Shelves Challenge, as does its sequel Lady of Sherwood.
Lady Of The Forest is a romance novel set in the time of Richard the Lionheart that "retells" the starting of the Robin Hood legends. All of the familiar characters and settings are here: Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet, Robin of Locksley, and of course, Maid Marian. Not to mention the Sherriff of Nottingham, who makes a very effective villain.
None of the characters are two-dimensional in any way, they are all fleshed out enough to become real people with understandable motivations, even the villains.
One thing to note is that the book is written with viewpoints from all of the characters. While it's interesting, and it certainly helped to flesh out the characters and their motivations, after a while I got to feeling that there were too many viewpoints and that it was distracting from the story of Robin and Marian.
Lady of the Forest was definitely interesting. I haven't read too many versions of the Robin Hood stories, only an older children's edition, so although the characters were familiar, the story wasn't.
The book looks as though it will take some reading to get through: its almost six hundred pages long. On the other hand, the font is fairly large, making for quicker reading. Even so, there's plenty to the story, and the ending is a bit different from the typical romance novel, although it is definitely a happy ending.
Really, I think that this book could be classed as historical fiction as much as it is a romance. I called it a romance, because that's the section of the store I found it in.
Jennifer Roberson, the author has written quite a few other books including the Tiger and Del series and the Chronicles of the Cheysuli. However, the only other ones I've read were from the Tiger and Del series. They're fantasy, and this one is more historical fiction, but I'd have to say, if you're expecting Roberson to be only a fantasy author, be prepared to be surprised. She's done a great job with historical fiction as well, and has even included a list of suggested books and sources for more information on Robin Hood and the time period. That's something that I really love authors doing, and I wish more of them would.