Cover Image: The Hood

The Hood

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Award winning fantasy author turned Arthurian legend on its head in his bawdy, reverentially irreverent By Force Alone. It turned out that this was but the first in a series which Tidhar is calling the “Anti-Matter of Britain Quartet”. The Matter of Britain is a body of medieval literature containing famous tales and myths that are deep in the British psyche. So it comes as no surprise that the second book in the series, The Hood, takes on another dearly loved but mainly fictional British hero Robin Hood.
The structure of The Hood is much like that of By Force Alone. The book is made up of a number of short tales, mainly focussed on particular characters. But there is also a vague overarching plot that weaves in and out, sometimes more clearly than at others. Because the overall narrative is really one of mythmaking where the character of Robin Hood is played by any number of people over the years. One of the new characters that Tidhar introduces is a Jewish woman called Rebecca who starts off as a witches assistant, gets into the local drug trade and has her own adventures. But as is made clear in an encounter with the current Hood:
The Hood shrugs. “You are not important,” he tells her mercilessly. This is my story, not yours. The stories they sing are of Robin Hood, not of some Jewess in Nottingham or of some dying hedge witch who carried out abortions… I steal from the rich. I give to the poor. Hated by the bad, loved by the good. I am the Hood.”
Many of the stories do deal with characters with whom readers will think they are familiar – Alan a Dale, Friar Tuck, Little John and Will Scarlet – but Tidhar puts new twists on these familiar archetypes. A few are veterans from the crusades, one is on a journey of revenge. But if anything, these characters are even more familiar than those of the Arthurian tales, given the number of retellings of the Robin Hood legends through the twentieth century.
There are strong links to the first book in this series. The faerie world, which played a large part in Arthur’s story is still in play although the continued rise of Christianity is pushing it further into the background. But the thirst of faeries for power and their capacity to meddle in the real world is consistent. And there is a section which delves into some very well known faerie tales. All of which revolves around the mystical wood and Marian the Green Lady:
The wood is where humanity’s dreams and nightmares come from, and where they fled to shelter.
But as always there is the sense of fun that Tidhar has in playing in these worlds. His riffing not only on the stories themselves but on their connections to more modern tales. There is a long subplot that uses holy relics but builds them into a Frankenstein narrative. The comedic guards at the gates of Tidhar’s Nottingham are called Bert and Ernest. The list goes on. And then there is just the joyously profane narrative itself:
The point is, there is no one in charge. It’s an anarchy – from the Greek, a state without a ruler. So money talks and bullshit walks, as Pliny the Elder said.
Tidhar’s Anti-Matter of Britain series will not be for everyone. They require readers to forget what they might know about these stories and look at them through fresh eyes. With The Hood he continues to both pay homage to those traditions and completely reinvent them for a modern audience. And continues to demonstrate why he is one of the most exciting and interesting fantasy authors working in the genre.
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Lavie Tidhar is a master storyteller. Through his pages you read irony, sarcasm, epicness, deeply constructed characters and a sense of fullfullment as a reader, when you suddenly realize the book is a piece of art. I am extremely happy and convinced by this hilarious and epic retelling of Robin Hood.
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📚Un retelling de la leyenda de Robin Hood en una versión gamberra, irreverente y subversiva. 'The Hood' es la segunda parte de una serie de nuevos puntos de vista de algunos de los mitos y leyendas más conocidos de las islas británicas. Hace casi dos años Tidhar publicó 'By Force Alone', una magnífica aproximación al Rey Arturo mereció cada minuto de lectura.

😵Drogas. Las mismas drogas que eran elemento principal en la vida de Arturo en la primera historia, ahora también lo son de esta revisión de Robin Hood. Si os animáis a leerlo podéis esperar algo completamente distinto a lo que han contado las mil y una historias que nos han llegado. Por no hablar de las de Disney.

👑Aunque Robin Hood sea el personaje central de la historia, no es el único protagonista. En la lectura aparecen otros personajes del mito como son Lady Marian, el Fraile Tuck o Will Scarlett, junto a otros secundarios que dan lugar a un elenco disparatado de personajes. Ellos son los verdaderos protagonistas de una serie de historias que dan lugar a este volumen.

😱Y es que esta novela es todo un asombro constante. Cualquier conocimiento de Robin Hood que tengáis previamente se va a ver dado la vuelta en una disparatada historia, por momentos caótica, donde cualquier cosa es posible. Cualquier cosa.

🏰A pesar de ello, la novela no deja el lado histórico. El contexto es clave en los acontecimientos. El libro es una ficción histórica a la vez que ucrónica con elementos fantásticos que hacen de 'The Hood' algo único y seguramente no del gusto de todos.
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A great book that kicks you into a world you think you know but turns out you don't.
All you favourite characters are here but in an intriguing old world meets new way, lots of awesome dialogue, scenes that could be in any gangster movie movie, humour and jokes that make you laugh out loud.
Lavie Tidhar has set his stall out with this series and fans of his King Arthur inspired first book will love this. It is a book that makes you forget what you knew about the Robin Hood from Mr Costner and Disney and introduces you to one that (doesn't feature greatly, but lives in shadows and appears to always be watching over proceedings.

Great book, great characters can't wait for the next book in the series!
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Lavie Tidhar es un escritor inclasificable, cada obra que publica y son muchas, no se parece a lo anterior. En esta ocasión, ha creado un nuevo género que yo he venido a llamar mitcología, por que mezcla mitología y micología.


En su saga titulada The Anti-Matter of Britain, Lavie ha decidido tomar los mitos fundacionales de su patria adoptiva y volver a contarlos, pero a su manera particular, en ocasiones delirante y sarcástica, así como profunda y reflexiva. The Hood es la segunda entrega, tras la polémica By Force Alone.

Partiendo de la base de que la historia de Robin Hood es mucho menos conocida que la del Rey Arturo a pesar de las numerosas adaptaciones que se han realizado a lo largo de los tiempos, esta novela tiene más posibilidades de sorprender que la anterior. Pero vamos, que la anterior estaba tan pasada de rosca que también conseguía llamar la atención.

Resulta muy curiosa la aproximación que utiliza Tidhar en esta obra, basándose más en la ambientación y el entorno que en los propios personajes, que trata como arquetipos que pueden interpretar diferentes personas, como si fueran disfraces de quita y pon. Al sheriff de Nottingham, por ejemplo, lo interpretan al menos tres individuos a lo largo de la novela.

Es llamativo que la que quizá sea la parte más conocida de la leyenda, con el romance entre Robin Hood y lady Marian solo aparezca en el último tercio, mientras que al principio de la novela la historia se encamina por derroteros inesperados. Rellenos de hongos y sustancias alucinógenas, pero inesperados.

A pesar de que como digo el autor toma un enfoque bastante original, sí que somos capaces de reconocer algunos elementos usuales en estos relatos en los que el mundo mágico va dando paso poco a poco al cristianismo, perdiendo el poder que ostentaba sobre los hombres y viéndose cada vez más restringido. También me atrevería a afirmar que se habla de forma bastante descarnada del estrés post traumático de los veteranos de guerra, que no es algo inventado en las guerras modernas, ya que muchísimos de los supervivientes de las Cruzadas que volvieron a casa se encontraron que no había nada para ellos a la vuelta. La figura de la judía Rebeca, que según las fuentes bibliográficas del final del libro tiene fundamento histórico, le sirve a Lavie para reflejar muchas de sus obsesiones que ya habíamos visto en anteriores obras suyas.

Es difícil recomendar una obra tan peculiar como esta, pero también reconozco que no he dejado de leer desde que comencé la novela. Mi consejo sería empezar con algún capítulo y ver si nos cuadra, porque Tidhar sigue siendo inclasificable.
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Bewitched by the writing and imaginativeness of Lavie Tidhar’s The Escapement (check out my rave review), I readily turned to "The Hood," the second instalment of his Anti-Matter of Britain Quartet, being English mythology reimagined through a modern, bruising lens. This time, as the title implies, Tidhar refashions the tales of Robin Hood and his band of merry men, although “refashions” understates his reworkings, This is a profane, hip, super-cool, jazzed-up retelling that does not hesitate to turn everything on its head. Fast, funny, foul, and furious, The Hood will either captivate and amaze you, or it will turn you off before the midway point. Stylistically remarkable though it was, my own read had me gasping with admiration but a tad nonplussed, but hey, I read it in one setting and will remember it until the day I die.
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This book made me think of Beatles' "A Day in the Life". It's lisergic, you never know where the plot is going and what will happen but I knew I didn't want to stop reading.
I'm not an expert of the Robin Hood lore, I know it's more complex and nuanced than what we usually think and that there's a mix of fairy tales and history.
Tidhar delivers a book that plays on the fairy side using it to give some of the most exciting part in the books. But he also talks about historical facts and the mix works.
Don't expect a standard fantasy book or a historical fiction: it's something more and it will bring you to some new places and to meet well known characters made new.
If "By Force Alone" was gritty and action packed, The Hood is more complex and a bit harder to follow.
I loved what I read but he's one of my favorite authors and this is an enthralling and fascinating story.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Following his iconoclastic take on the King Arthur mythology in By Force Alone, Lavie Tidhar has now turned to Robin Hood. The Hood is very much a sequel, despite being set six hundred(ish) years later - some of the same characters appear or are mentioned, possible because both books dip into the fae-tinged lore of the green and pleasant land. (Even if characters here repeatedly characterise all the Elves and magic as made-up nonsense - nonsense can still have power).

The book's also a sequel in a thematic sense, exploring some of the same themes - for example, how unaccountable power lurks behind the tapestry of history - and in a similar, picaresque style, across a horde of characters and merrily leapfrogging years or decades when needed.

We are in the second half of the 12th century and England is plunged in civil war. Or at least, nobles and princes are at war: a definite theme of The Hood is the lives going on around that, mostly ignoring the battles, escapes, marches and rivalries that are occasionally referred to as the struggle moves backwards and forwards. Instead, the book focusses on Nottingham and Sherwood (of course) though beginning in London where one Will Scarlett gets himself into a bit of bother.

That isn't, though, our entry point to the happy band of outlaws making free in the forest. Throughout this book there is a Hood in Sherwood, just as there are numerous "hoods" who form part of his crew. Tidhar plays happily with concepts and language to compare the outlaws to a gang of mobsters (fair, since that's really how they appear in the sources). Hood is even named Robin, or Rob, at times. But he's hardly a central figure in this story. Necessary, yes, like a king on a chessboard, but also weak. Marian is more important, as are the various figures who wheel around her - Birdie, the strange figure sheltering from the world in a monastery; Rebecca, the daughter of Jewish merchant Isaac of York, who herself becomes something of a gang boss in Nottingham, and even Mrs More-Goose, the cook at Nottingham Castle who has a hidden identity. There's also Sir Richard at the Lee, a knight and agent of  the Archbishop of York, and of course Guy of Gisbourne, the last two acting as vehicles for Tidhar's characteristic noiriness. They play the shady fixer, the tough guy(!) who goes where others won't to serve a kind of justice. Or injustice.

It's a mark of how well Tidhar does this sort of thing that a concept like that - referring forward eight hundred years to a different world and a different medium - works so well in this book. It isn't, of course, the only one - the book is filled with allusions to music, books, media of all sorts, as well as historical parallels and comparisons that I kept thinking ought not to work but just do. There are, for example, numerous characters here who've been through horrors in the Crusades, things they can't explain to the civilians they meet but that others just understand. That haunts the book, bringing to mind so many wars over the past century and more. So many returned and haunted men. So many appalling sights and events.

At the other end of the scale in emotional terms are some really obvious references that had me grinning - a bar called Dick's ('Everybody comes to Dick's', yes I know), allusions to TV and films and, of course, sideswipes at more traditional depictions of Robin Hood (including, yes, That Song). The joke on those is that the Nottingham of The Hood isn't, in contrast to Robin of Sherwood and the like, the Nottingham of, er, The Hood at all. It's the Nottingham of whatever gang boss can hold onto it - be that a Sheriff (but Nottingham has a way with its Sherriffs), the daughter of a Jewish merchant, an enchantress, an alchemist in the vein of Dr Frankenstein or, well, you get the idea. 

Like By Force Alone, the real action here is criminal: control of rackets, production and smuggling of substances, throat-slitting, the works. That coexists with a slippery stratum of forest magic, portrayed at the same time as made-up and as ancient and powerful. That world is populated by some of the same entities and forces as appeared in the previous book but it's not a neat, Neo-Classical pantheon but a confused gaggle of deities and powers scavenged from the mythologies of North-Western Europe and, of course beyond, this being an age of faith and the faith being that of Jesus. But it's also an age of commerce with a lively trade in relics, something that is at the same taken seriously by its participants and treated as a bit of a joke. 

Maybe that's a key to the book as a whole - so much here is both presented as fake, artificial, mutable and as rooted, significant, serious. Sometimes it's at the same time, sometimes the treatment swings between the two depending which characters we're following and what they're doing. The way the book works kind of illustrates how historical figures and events we're used to seeing of thinking of in a certain way can also be shifty, contingent and make-do.

Historical figures and events including of course some key and cherished bits of (admittedly mostly made-up) British history. Which is of course Tidhar's point. It is a point he makes in a highly entertaining, and compellingly readable, way, one that leaves me eagerly looking forward to the next part of this rackety story of Britain.
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The Hood is Lavie Tidhar’s retelling of Robin Hood. In a similar strand to his 2020 Arthurian retelling ‘By Force Alone.’ The Hood begins with the character Maid Marian, whilst the most familiar character  Robin becomes the least important character. The style makes a difference to the narrative and it's a refreshing change.   Other character points of view are traded between Will Scarlett, Alan-a-Dale, a Church fixer, and perhaps most frequently Rebecca, a Jewish woman taken from Ivanhoe.

Many familiar characters appear from old and new stories, myths, and legends alike. Typically, we get Guy of Gisborne, the sheriff of Nottingham, Sherwood Forest, Little John, and Tuck and Much. The Hood becomes a narrative playground. The story follows these beloved and recognisable characters through a series of vignettes, letters, myths, and legends fairy-tales are all interwoven, there is even a play! It keeps every chapter fresh and engaging. Much like ‘Force Alone,’ Tidhar has some real fun with this book, there is plenty of hilarity and jokes. The language can be profane at times, a little crazy and chaotic, a little violent and comedic, but this is just pure good fun. 

Thanks to both NetGalley and the publishers for an e-arc.  All opinions are my own.
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If you go down in the woods today…

Red, red Robin, the Hood in the wood, loathed by the bad, loved by the good. Marion, Maid Marion, queen of the wood, an implacable force of primal nature. Scarred Will Scarlett, big Little John Little, Holy Land veterans, PTSD, Much the Miller’s scarecrow, dwale, ale, Allan-a-Dale, Allanah Dale, balladeer and assassin, the not so Merry Men.

Sherwood, green Sherwood, filled with bonfires, merry men, green men, fungus and rot. Nottingham, shitty Nottingham, a miasma of Gloomph, fungus and rot. Sherwood and Nottingham, the borders of Faery Land, and Fairies and tales: Rumpelstiltskin, Beanstalks and kleptomaniac Jacks, Mirrors and dwarfs, a grandmother more frightened of a homicidal Red Riding Hood than she is of the wolf.

Literary allusion by the bucketload: Ivanhoe, Heart of Darkness, the Teddybears’ Picnic, Apocalypse Now, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Don’t Look Now, The Lord of the Rings, Wayland the Smith. And stuff. 

Rebecca, Becca, Bex, Nottingham’s Jewess, girl gang boss, drug baroness. Guisburn, Guy of Guisburn, another crusader vet, paid assassin, Double Oh VII.

The Corn King and the Spring Queen, the cycle of the seasons, round and round and round again, and again, round. Crusaders and kings, Templars, Dan Brown, Relics and indulgences, random popes, the fall of Byzantium, Mongols and gunpowder, yes, and a Frankenstein Jesus.

A seething cauldron of manifold slop, a style in search of a story, a fungal infection, a great heap of stinking ordure – let’s not be coy, the author isn’t, let’s call it shit.

But that’s not fair: rather, an unbridled imagination, an intellect unleashed, a roaring, roiling tempest that, finally, burns itself out.

Whatever. I forgot. Father Tuck, Brother Tuck, Exorcist Tuck, Prior Tuck, never Friar Tuck, but, as the author says – Who gives a …….
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Absolutely brilliant. And I mean that in both senses: this book is like a clear, frosty night in Alaska, a sky liberally studded with glittering gems of wit and erudition. Every page ( and, often, many sentences) sparkles with the wit of diligent research turned scathing satire. And what is even nicer is that the author is not the least bit pretentious; rather, the mood is of sharing a joke with friends, confident that we all share enough cultural background to get the punchline. I'll be honest, I have never read Ivanhoe. Two-thirds of the way through The Hood, I thought I'd better have a quick Wiki. And it certainly added another dimension to the character of Rebecca. But she had cemented herself from the very start as an intelligent, headstrong, interesting young woman, and it was just perfect of Tidhar to have her as the main protagonist. 

Many and hilarious as the jokes are, however, they do not belittle the subject matter; at its heart, The Hood is quite serious. The author takes the romances of fifteenth century England and gives them new life, to show the emergence of modern England, the casting aside of the pagan gods of the Angles, the Vikings, the ancient Britons, with the growth of capitalism and Christianity, best personified perhaps in the Knights Templar. With riffs on Will Scarlett, Marian the queen of the new spring, Much, Alan-a-dale, Red Cap, Tuck and, of course, Robin himself, and the hoods in the woods mirrored by the greedy lords and king, this is very much a social commentary. 
The often profane language used is perfectly suited to the subject matter and the building of the characters. The Hood reads like the love-child of the Bard and Tom Holt, with Robert Holdstock as godparent. And, for a story about stories (and legends that become folk tales that become fairy tales) this is some story: it has sex, it has violence, it has betrayal and love and lashings of comedy, like the best Hollywood blockbuster or the cream of Shakespearean drama, it has everything.

I am very grateful to Netgalley for the ARC of this book, but I will nevertheless be buying a copy, as The Hood will definitely repay repeated readings through the years, with more references and allusions popping out each time.
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This book is bizarre. It's a Robin Hood retelling that doesn't resemble any of the Robin Hood stories I know - it's literally just the names that I recognise in this weird mash up of 12th century England (from the Anarchy through Henry II) with hallucinogenic mushrooms and dangerous forests.

The promised bizarre tone was what interested me in the book, and it would have been great - if I'd been able to follow the plot better. But I simply could not work out what was happening or why.

The first part of the problem was it felt like little vignettes of different unrelated characters for so long that I lost track of who was in the book, what they wanted, and what on earth they were doing. Their events rarely impact on the lives of others, so if I wasn't interested in a certain of the many POVs, there was little to engage me in reading it, just tapping my foot until they stopped talking and someone I liked better came along. That's never promising for attention or following along. The first two characters introduced then vanished for ages, so I was left wondering why I'd spent 50 pages with them.

The tone also randomly changed with some characters. Nearly everything was told in third person (a mix of present and past tense), but one person was writing letters (that had the weirdest formatting, I think to try and show some bits were crossed out? But it just looked like a formatting error highlighting it in black with white letters that was rather tricky to read at times.) It was such a sudden change that every time it came up it threw me out of the story.

The other part of the problem was that wasn't a goal or destination apparent in the story. Some characters had individual goals, some just seemed to be there, but there was nothing uniting them or hinting at what come. Without that glimmer of what it might all be leading to (which doesn't have to be real, as a good twist subverts and redirects), the forward momentum usually slackens for me and the tension is undercut. This happened here.

It was rather disappointing, as the premise sounded so much fun in this book, but the execution just made it a slog for me to read as I was too confused.
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Truthfully, i dont know what ive just read. I guess it was supposed to be a satire with awful jokes and bonkers plot. I ma at a loss...
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The Hood by Lavie Tidvar
The Hood by Lavie Tidvar is not exactly what I expected. I thought it might be a little tongue in cheek, and slightly out of the ordinary. But this left a real bad taste in the mouth. I personally did not find it the least bit funny, despite the description promising humour. If there was an attempt at a storyline, then it was lost on me. 
Perhaps I should have looked at some reviews of his previous work, and then I might have had a greater idea of what to expect. I am not averse to profanity, but this was ridiculously out of context, unnecessary and unfunny.
If the author wants to vent his spleen at British institutions that is his own business, but the book description should carry a better warning. 
Purists will have a hissy fit at reading this, and I cannot blame them.
The Hood is my first ever DNF on NetGalley.
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A treat for fans of twisted retelling with lots of dark (and inappropriate) humor. I had good fun reading it. It could be slightly shorter, but thanks to great pacing and relatively short chapters it reads quicker than you might expect.
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This was... completely bonkers. 

Some context: I studied medieval history at bit at uni, and I also did a subject about medievalism in modern society; I did an essay on Robin Hood. I am by no means an expert, of course, but I have some awareness of the whole mythology. Which is why I was so excited to read this. I had loved what Tidhar did with the Arthurian stuff in By Force Alone, and I was wide-eyed at what he would do here. The Robin Hood stuff is so wide-ranging - in history and in modern incarnation (Disney's version is still the best) - that there's just so much to play with. 

Fascinatingly, Tidhar begins with Maid Marian, and goes somewhere I didn't expect at all. And then goes to Will Scarlett, and likewise. And then to Rebecca - riffing off Ivanhoe - and... well, there's a very long section of the story that's exploring things other than a man with a bow and arrow and Lincoln green. In fact, I would argue that "Robin Hood" is probably the least important main character in the entire narrative. Which is a very interesting choice and one I'm still chewing over. Many of the characters recognisable from old and new stories make an appearance - Guy of Gisborne, the sheriff of Nottingham, Sherwood Forest, Little John and Tuck and Much the miller's son - although perhaps not as you would expect them (that aspect I'm completely happy with). 

The different sections, especially in perhaps the first third, are almost like stand-alone ballads; and maybe that's intentional, reflecting the structure of those early, medieval 'Gestes'. But it is somewhat disconcerting if you come to this expecting a straightforward "Robin Hood story" - because it definitely isn't. I have no problem with this idea; disjointed narratives can be brilliant. Many of the early ideas do eventually have their pay-off later in the narrative, and often in quite clever ways; but it often didn't feel like enough of a pay-off given the set up. I think perhaps there's not enough of a crescendo - I finished the book feeling a little flat, a little lost - surprised: "is that it?" 

(For those having read By Force Alone: that too was somewhat chaotic, but to me it always seemed like a coherent chaos. In contrast, I think The Hood doesn't always succeed in coherence, narrative or character wise.)

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the book. It's a rollicking ride from the Anarchy of Stephen and Matilda's civil war of the 1140s through to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th Crusades; Tidhar incorporates a surprising and unexpected amount of English history that's usually not connected to the Robin Hood stories at all, commenting along the way. There's an excellent range of characters, all stubbornly themselves and threatening to break away and live their own damned lives, thanks all the same. It's not always easy to read - Tidhar clearly has a love of language and he likes playing with repetition and surprising slang - but it's also not a slog. 

I have no regrets about having read The Hood, and I will read whatever books Tidhar puts out in the Matter of Britain series (I think I heard it described as a quadrology, but I can't for the life of me figure out what else will be included).
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Robin Hood as retold, remixed, and generally bounced off the wall to see what pretty patterns it might make by Lavie Tidhar. Compared to this, his grubby 2020 retelling of Arthurian legend, By Force Alone, was positively direct and straightforward; this time out we're not even dealing with single individuals so much as roles that seek people to inhabit them, something that seems to be a recurring theme in recent projects based around British myth, from the Devices trilogy to Gillen & Mora's Once And Future. So the Golden Bough is high in the mix, but you can also see the eddies of an awful lot of other influences, from Keats and Dante to Apocalypse Now and the Muppets; there's even an Arkham to join Nottinghamshire's real Gotham. Themes ebb and flow; early on much is made of Nottingham as a grubby, fragile outpost of doubtful civilisation in the midst of Sherwood's vast 'Gloomph', the forest's fungal influence corroding character and stretching space and time. I was reminded of Vandermeer, obviously, but also of The Vorrh, especially once we hear more about Alan-a-Dale's harp. And for all that it's effective, I did start to wonder whether, between In The Earth and this, the fungus motif in fantasy-horror might be getting a little overused; time for a mycelium moratorium? Perhaps Tidhar had similar doubts, because after that the fungal motif drops out for some time, other toys pulled out of the grab bag to see what they might do instead. 

Again unlike By Force Alone, where the leads might be heavily reworked (Jewish ninja Lancelot!) but were still approximately the characters you'd expect to head up an Arthurian story, Robin is mostly not the central figure here; point of view duties are traded irregularly between players including Will Scarlett, Alan-a-Dale, an episcopal fixer, and perhaps most frequently Rebecca, a Jewish woman apparently taken from Ivanhoe. That's one version of Robin Hood I don't know at all, but I'm guessing that Walter Scott's iteration of her was probably not the head of a drug-dealing girl gang. As for the Merry Men*, of course Tidhar takes his usual liberties: Much the miller's son is often a bit of a lump, but not like this, and while I know Gilbert Whitehand was always a sketchy figure, this version doesn't fit even what little was known. Still, his plan is entertainingly batshit enough that I'm not inclined to complain**.

As much as Tidhar is clearly larking around here, he understandably seems more sympathetic to the core themes of the Robin Hood legends than he did those of Arthur; the fight of the disenfranchised against injustice is always likely to strike a 21st century writer as a likelier way to heal a wounded land than the dream of an ideal monarch. At the same time, he has more sense than to believe it's ever quite that easy, or that revolutionaries are ever quite the romantic figures as which they're later painted. Not least because, unless you go full Inglourious Basterds (or indeed Gladiator), we already know that no utopian commonwealth was established in mediaeval Britain. Which said, even if we are here in more historical time than the shadowy post-Roman era of By Force Alone, Tidhar is still happy to play fast and loose with the record, not least by having the story kick off during the Anarchy rather than in Robin's usual period of Richard's reign. Partly this elasticity is allowed by having magic play a larger role than it tends to in Robin retellings; as an afterword points out, the early ballads do have much more of that, which the subsequent tidyings-up tend to omit. All the same, and for all that the presence of fading but still just about potent fae ties the book more closely to By Force Alone, I wasn't wholly convinced by the sections where it crosses over with outright fairytale. Though I loved the incidental detail – which I'm fairly sure a gentile writer couldn't have got away with – where a Jewish and a fairy character commiserate over how they're both forever being accused of stealing children.

The bit that still has me wondering, though, is what comes next. When I read By Force Alone, I saw no indication that it was anything but a standalone book. Now, it turns out to have been the opening of Tidhar's Anti-Matter Of Britain Quartet, with The Hood as the second part. So what are the next two? I figure Shakespeare/Elizabeth for one, but surely Tidhar has made enough of WWII and the Victorians already? Nelson, maybe? Certainly I'm intrigued to find out. Though at the same time, I wonder if given the fucking state of the place lately, our national myths have maybe already had enough of a kicking, at least as far as anyone liable to read Lavie Tidhar books is concerned. So part of me would be much happier to see some more from him in his gentler, healing mode, as seen in the lovely Central Station. Ah well, these are not times where we get what we want.

*For all that Tidhar loves his lists – the Hood is at one point described as "The Big Chief. The Pinecone Capo. The Man in Green. The Arrow Tosser. The Arch Archer. The Prince of Thieves. The Hooded Hoodlum. The Righteous Robber. The Cunt in the Hat" and a paragraph more – my spouse pointed out that he'd missed a trick here by never mixing that with the toadstool business to have the Hood's posse go by the synonym 'the Fun Guys'.
**SPOILER but if you're not already planning to read this book, this was possibly my favourite thing here, so I have to include it as a potential sell: this Gilbert Whitehand is a deranged occultist assembling as many holy relics as possible in order to assemble a Frankenstein Jesus.

(Netgalley ARC)
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Subversive and profane ? I would rather say that the author uses his talent (and he really does have talent) to release an imagination I would dearly love to possess, I can see some purists being upset by this book, personally I loved it, more please
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