Greenwode by J Tullos Hennig ~ Review by Ulysses

GreenwodeLG

Title: Greenwode

Author: J Tullos Hennig

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Book One of The Wode

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.

My View

Ken Follett’s amazing “Pillars of the Earth” taught us about life in a cathedral town in the middle ages. J. Tullos Hennig (another coy name for a female writer of gay male romance) gives us a remarkably deft and literate window into that same medieval world – this time focusing on the social, cultural and religious context of the English middle ages in which Robin Hood was born.

But here, Robin of Loxley is a teenage druidic forest king and Maid Marion is his big sister – and he falls in love with Gamelyn Boundys, youngest son of the local Frankish nobleman. The old, pre-Christian ways have not died out in this part of England, but the increasingly shrill and paranoid Christian hierarchy has got them in their sights. Pagan and Christian, peasant and noble, bowman and swordsman. A strange fate seems to hover over Rob and Gamelyn, although whether love or death will win is in shadow.

Henning is great with language, and the various little linguistic anachronisms that find their way into this complex, gripping text are easily shrugged off (did they have rubbish tips in the 1100s?). What’s better, all of the secondary characters are ably drawn and come to life on the page, offering the reader a rich character study from a time as alien as another world.

The reason I did not give this five stars is that no book this long and this involving should end in a cliff-hanger. The highly emotional finale seemed rushed, and, in my opinion, should not have ended where it did. The events were foreshadowed, but there was no need to trick us into reading a sequel by leaving us gasping on the last page. Really, we would have bought the second book, “Shirewode,” anyway.

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon

This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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