Shirewode by J Tullos Hennig ~ Review by Ulysses

 

ShirewodeLGTitle: Shirewode

Author: J Tullos Hennig

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Book Two of the Wode

The King of the Shire Wode. That is what they will call you.

Years ago, a pagan commoner named Rob of Loxley befriended Gamelyn Boundys, a nobleman’s son, against seemingly insurmountable odds—and with horrific consequences. His home razed by order of the Church, Rob was left for dead, believing his sister, Marion, and his lover, Gamelyn, had perished.

But Gamelyn yet lives. Guilt-ridden by his unwitting betrayal of Loxley, one of the last bastions of the Old Religion, Gamelyn rides off to seek absolution in the Holy Land. Rob vanishes into the greenwode and emerges as leader of a tight-knit band of outcasts who revolt against the powers that be.

When the two lovers meet again, it will be in a brutal, blindfolded game of foxes and hounds that pits Templar assassin against Heathen outlaw. Yet the past cannot be denied, and when Rob discovers Marion is also still alive, the game turns. History will chronicle Robyn Hood and Guy of Gisbourne as the deadliest of enemies, but the reality is more complicated—and infinitely more tragic.

My View

You really have to read this book in tandem with its precursor, “Greenwode.” Hennig has created a remarkable, vivid and believable recasting of the Robin Hood legend, focusing on the emotional, spiritual and cultural underpinnings of the legend as much as on the complex and sometimes gory action of the tale.

Having scanned the other reviews – this is not a “gay romance” in that it is not all about Rob and Gamelyn’s star-crossed romance. It is not sweetness and light, nor is it adolescent angst that is cured by heartfelt conversation and passionate lovemaking. But the entire two-volume narrative is entirely focused on the nature of these two young men’s relationship, and on building that relationship so that it seems to be not just plausible but entirely necessary to the creation of the Robin Hood mythology. Possibly Hennig’s most important and interesting contribution to the Robin Hood literature is the carefully crafted and beautifully written analysis of the religious context in which this 12th-century story unfolds. Ultimately Rob and Gamelyn’s story is one of class and ethnicity and religious belief.

For me, the fact that the core story is about two men struggling to love each other was the reason I bothered to buy the book. But the fact that Hennig has taken that core premise and woven a magical literary tapestry around it is what made it worth reading.

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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2 thoughts on “Shirewode by J Tullos Hennig ~ Review by Ulysses

  1. Beautifully phrased and interesting review, Ulysses, and interesting premise for a story. I like the idea behind this reworking, but being English I am maybe a little ‘punch drunk’ by the legend of Robin of Loxley aka Robin Hood. Add to that I live only a few miles from Nottingham and you will understand my ennui.

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