Friday, July 10, 2009

Robin and the King by Parke Godwin

"Robin and the King"is the latest discussion. Comments are welcome at any time.


  1. This is part 1 to Pokeygirl's questions about "Robin and the King".

    Evening everyone,

    Got in early tonight to post these questions for our latest RH On-line Book Club project:

    Robin And The King: In this concluding (? Mr. Godwin has/is rumored to write "The King's Conscience" ; although it would seem that he managed to cover THAT one in the concluding chapter of our current book club selection.. we shall see?)
    installment of the tale of Edward Aelredson of Denby, (named "Puck Robin" by his mother, Lady (Hlaefidge=Bread Server/Provider) Maud,

    and by the good folk of "The Midlands" ; (Denby, Blidworth, Edwinstowe, Nottingham, Kirklees, Clun,York, Locksley, and Norwich) :

    Sweet Robin Hood of Sherwood, and the woman HE loved,
    Lady (Hlaefidge) Marian of Tadcaster.

    Both of them of "common" birth, but Robin a "Lord" of five or seven "hides"; in other words a landowner, (or perhaps as we would refer to him today: "upper middle class" (?), but definitely not a nobelman in the established English tradition.

  2. This is to lead into one of the first quesions:

    1. Does the telling (or perhaps more to the point) the meaning/signifigance of The Legend change becasue of Robin's social/economic status?

    Here, he is a landowner who feels COMPLETELY responsible for the welfare of his village, and ALL those to whom he becomes "Bread Provider" along with his wife, Marian, "Bread Server". He is not someome the conquering Normans consider to of "nobel birth" with a title bestowed by The Crown, but as Saxon who wields more than a little bit of power over this entire, and to "Willy Bastard", EXTREMELY important, HEART of the land he wanted to tame and rule.

    So, as he becomes the "settled down" land owning, (and pardoned) , most "loyal" servant of King William I, does THIS bit of "fleshing out" of Robin's background make The Legend more powerful, or meaningful in your opinion,

    or does the willingly dis-inherited, and landless, titled/ nobelman version of Robin of Locksley make him a more appealing hero?

    2. By this time in his life, Robin has become quite a literate man; who knows that all that he and others have fought for could just disapear over night, at the whim of the Plantegenets sitting on England's "stolen" throne. At this time in her history: "Mother "England is a babe herself: struggling very much like Robin and Marian's daughter Moria, just to make a place for herself in Europe and stay alive.

    Could you see OUR darlin Robin in this role of thoughtful, elder statesman, "maker of Kings" , or, now that we know the conclusion of Series 3, baby brother Archer fulfilling that role some day? Would our tv Robin have fought beside William or old Waltheouf; given the way Jonas portrayed him, would he have been most loyal to his village, or to a future nation that had yet to be born?

    What did you think of the family formed by Robin, Marian, Ralf and Judith, and the deepening sense of loyal community personified by Robin and Ralf's obvious respect and affection for each other?

    Would you have liked to see more of that kind of unity and pride expressed by The Gang, their families, and most of all, to have Robin and Guys's familial ties to have been exposed a little earlier in our tv story line and why?

    Did you think what Vicomtese Judith would later describe, as "The Great Turnip War Of Sherwood", as the best portrait of this sense of community and family, or could you think of a better one? Was it realistic to think a group of people armed only with vegetables could best a group of armed Norman Knights with out suffering some immediate, (and almost certainly violent) consequences?

    As Lady Maud grows older, she keeps on reliving her imprisonment and begins to not only see he husband, Aelred, but starts to see other visions. Was she seeing into the future as well, and do you think Godwin was using her as the "touch stone" for the Saxon England fading away, and the "seeer" of the new one being born right in front of her? Do you think she is as powerful an influence on England as Robin or William and Matilda, or perhaps even MORE powerful?

  3. 6.
    There are many, many instances of outright brutality and casual savagery described in detail by Godwin. Of course, this was an accurate picture of those days, however, even Robin himself practices some of these "old rights";

    even taking the scalps of Norman and Saxon alike in battle. (We do know that it was the Europeans who taught the American Indians to take scalps in evidence of their "kills" of settlers on the frontier.)

    Also, there is also what I think the unforgettable scenes of Robin taking vengance against the Norman nobelmen who brutalized a young boy, and of him with Ranulf's wife, Elfled. Did these scenes disturb you? Why or why not?

    Could you see OUR darlin Robin doing any of these things, say in The Holy Land, (given the nightmares of Much)?

    Did the picture of William The Conqueror holding his dying wife, Matilda, in his arms, and knowing he would be alone in the world, without his best friend and consort by his side, move you and could you see some of Guy's scene with Meg in this?

    When Robin and Marian had their argument the night before he left at the King's summons, did it make you think of our tv Marian's sense of abandonment she must have felt when our darlin Robin left for Crusade? Would you have liked to see them portray this scene in our tv version?

    Godwin also chooses to have Marian and Robin die side by side as they struggle to preserve their people, their heritage, and their children.

    What did you think of Robin's choice to have his own mother help him commit suicide, and a moment later to have Maud do the same for herself? Was this an act of bravery, or not?

    Ralf Fitz Gerald is put between the Rock and The Hard Place in so much of this tale; his incredible friendship with Robin after so much emnnity, his marriage to Judith, Robin's cousin, his growing love of Nottingham, and his willingness to do ANYTHING to defend what he had become a part of : England;
    did you see anything of our Guy in this man?

    What, if anything, did you think the cat, Perdu, symbolized as she rode around in Ralf's saddlebag seeing Nottingham, the fact that she was crippled, yet she was quite the little survivor?

    And of course,
    Could you see our tv cast members filling any of these roles in this book, (other than the other ones mentioned already) and why?

  4. O.k. Here goes. What an in depth line of questions!

    1. I found no shift in meaning of the Legend, but I will agree that this is a more serious and repsonsible Robin who tries to use the system as is before he resorts to revolution. I like that. It was a very powerful take on the legend, and perhaps a bit more diplomatic and caring about specific people for whom he was responsible. I did not find it less sacrificial than a Noble giving up his status nor than a yoeman who risks his life to fight for his fellow man.

    2. I think the T.V. Robin definitly has a different personality, however I did picture Jonas MOST of the time in the character. Our T.V. Robin was litereate also and became most serious about who he was and his importance after Epsisode 1, season 3, with Tuck by his side. I wish that our seires would have had a period when Robin returned where he was back in charge and things were better for just a bit, because King Richard would have sent word to that effect and the Sheriff would have been de-throned for at least a bit. It did not make sense that things returned to business as usual after the sheriff attempted murdering the King.

    3. I loved the bond that formed between Ralf and Robin's family.and I definitely wish that there were more times like Epsisode 11 of season 3, where Robin and Guy are working together. They really played off each other well and it was fun to watch. The dry humor, the outwitting and such was a blast. I also wish that Marian had died by more of an accident with Guy, perhaps fighting or something. Guy would still have had to deal with her death, and him causing it, but the murder aspect was a line that I do not believe Robin could actually get past in real life as quicly as they wrote.

    4. The vegetable assult was far fetched, but would have been fun in our series. It would have fit in well with all the other impossible escapes that are so much fun.

    5. It is an interesting allegory you present. I like it very much and wonder if the author had those intentions as well. Maud does parallel Engalnd's struggles. It is interesting, but not more important to the story than the other main characters to me.

    6. The brutallity was realistic to the times I am sure, but I did not like Robin joining in on the extreem acts. I prefer the older tales of out witting the sheriff, or foe, with cleverness over violence. I like it when the novel actually has a non-violent statement from Robin Hood that puts him above the others in wisdom.

    7. No, our BBC Robin would not chop off someone's head and wag it around.

    8. Matilda's death was not like Meg's death. Meg's death changed Guy. Matilda's death was a deeper loss for the King because it was a relationship of a lifetime, but it did not change him, or did I miss something there? Do you think he was changed after her death?

    9. Robin and Marian's story told in the fashion of the book, as a backflash, would have been wonderful, just wonderful.

    10.I do not like this ending to Robin's life. He made his mother commit two crimes before she died. It was not heroic, suicide and murder never is heroic.

    11. I did imagine our Robin, Little John and Guy (as Ralf). The rest did not fit the character most of the time. (to me)

  5. oops, I forgot 11, and 12. My comment # 11 was for #13!
    11. I imagined our Guy as Ralf every minute of the read.
    12. The cat was merely a reflection of Ralf's goodness for the readers.

  6. Hey folk,

    Thought I'd start out on this particular thread with a transfer of mine, The Guys, and the staffs' thoughts on question number one. I'll be following up either early morning, or late this evening with question number 2 (and hopefully more).

    Well at LONG last,.........

    I get to come this particular book while the S3 Finale is bringing our first run BBCA Robin Hood experience to a close. I'll also be posting this one to our new CFH as well.

    The ending to this story is EXTREMELY similar to that in S3, but with even MORE satisfying conclusions to each of the characters lives.

    Now the comments have come in from "the field" , (ie.,.."The Stan" , "The Pak", and "The Sandbox"); So, on with "Robin And The King":


    The fact that Godwin makes Robin truly "one of the people", says that he becomes more accessible in many ways. The "tradition" of making Robin ("Sweet Robin Of Sherwood", 'Old Robin Good body", "Robin of Denby") a high ranking nobleman, did not become popular until Sir John Milton decided to make him so around the early 16th Century.

    Godwin's approach is more historically correct, (and will probably be followed by Ridely Scott in his new feature film). But eventually, Robin, through his struggle, AND his ability to not only LEAD, his friends and neighbors, but to INSPIRE them to defend themselves and their homes and families from the Normans who would rob them not only of their freedom or possessions, but of their very IDENTITIES.

    Robin starts out as an illiterate land owner, but through his long convalescence,

    (made necessary by his hand to hand combat with Ralf Fitz Gerald, Sheriff of Nottingham, once suitor to Marian,).:

    Robin does indeed become a most literate man, learns the law, and knows enough of it that he can manage to actually challenge William in his new authority as autocratic ruler of England. Yet, William (old "Willy Bastard": learn more about HIM in "Lord Of Sunset"), knows that even HE cannot begin to fathom the customs, language, "Witans"/ law making bodies, (something that perplexed good old "Willy" or "Gilly" as his wife, and Queen consort, Matilda of Flanders, would call him; to his dying day.

    Here, Robin becomes 'one of the neighborhood" and an 11th Century version of a true
    "Civic Leader". And yet, although he aspires to become someone who makes such a lasting contribution to the welfare, freedom and security of his people, he is such a contradiction in "Sherwood" as he still holds slaves like Will Scarlet, and his Welsh wife, Angharad. (A bit like Thomas Jefferson to come much later).

    It is what Robin DOES here that matters most, NOT his rank or his level of education. HOWEVER, the fact that he DOES use ALL of his skills to help and establish his people, (the Saxons) as EQUAL to their Norman overlords, and manages to make the most important contribution to their mutual welfare.

    Its also one of the most beautiful aspects of this story that Ralf Fitz Gerald, the one time dis enfranchised (and fellow "bastard" with William himself), Norman knight, becomes the friend and alley to his former enemy, and will risk EVERYTHING he is and has to help both Robin, Marian, and the people of HIS holding, Nottihgham itself, to gain THEIR foothold in this new English Kingdom.

    So, rather than detract from The Legend, making Robin a man who "comes up through the ranks", so to speak, it does illustrate the struggle of ALL of the peoples of the British Isles at that time, to make ONE kingdom and a HOME for all of them against those who would invade them as they had in the past and ravage the land and her people once more.


    got to go and see to it my charges are at "lights out" and I'll be back as soon as I can folks.