Angus Donald – Outlaw

This has been on my radar for a long time – pretty much since I saw the iconic cover when it came out actually. Anyway, I finally got around to buying a few months ago. Started it a few weeks ago, and have been gripped by it since. I finished it today! Quite simply, it’s a great read.

The main hero and narrator is Alan Dale, a young thief who’s taken in by Robert Odo, the outlaw chief. I liked this approach, because all too often, books are written from the historical or main hero’s point of view, and that can be a little boring. Having someone who’s not on centre stage all the time is very useful. Alan is a clever and endearing character, whom I liked a lot. Robin wasn’t the person I expected either – in Donald’s book, he’s a brooding, complex character who can be very brutal, even downright cruel. There’s no 21st century sensitivity here. It’s a refreshing and very realistic approach for which Donald – like the outstanding Robert Low, author of the Viking Oathsworn books – is to be applauded. Centuries ago, no one could be a strong warlord without also being brutal.

Donald’s descriptions of 13th century England are excellent, well researched and full of detail; so too are his gripping fight scenes. His torture scenes are excruciatingly well written – I found myself cringing at two of them in particular. I won’t go into details here…

In short, Outlaw is a thoroughly welcome addition to my bookshelf. My heartiest congratulations, Angus! I’ll be moving onto Holy Warrior, the second volume asap…

Check out Angus’ site here.

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  1. John Salter
    Posted 10 May 2011 at 12:08 | Permalink

    Ben – I bought this ages ago after the arrow on the cover ‘tractor beamed’ me in Waterstones. Sounds like a good read excellent. I think I need a clone (or two) to do all the things I want to do at the moment, one would be a reader for certain!

  2. benkane
    Posted 10 May 2011 at 12:18 | Permalink

    @John: ah, sure I know. My pile of unread books is both uplifting and depressing to look at. For every one I read, I’d say I buy three. 🙁 and 🙂

  3. Fabitaromunass
    Posted 10 May 2011 at 13:18 | Permalink

    Out of all the books I’ve seen on HWA this one has interested me the most. Off I go to amazon!

  4. benkane
    Posted 10 May 2011 at 13:21 | Permalink

    @Fabitaromunass: good man! 😉

  5. Posted 10 May 2011 at 16:03 | Permalink

    I got on board and did a signed limited edition with Angus when this was released, it really is a novel look at the Hood, and as someone who is named after Robin Hood i do like a good story about him.
    My reading pile is …well you have seen the to buy list so you know the reading pile is terrible in size, Holy Warrior is still in there somewhere and Kings man is due out in July

  6. John Salter
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 11:44 | Permalink

    Ben – I read the first chapter of Outlaw last night and it’s really good. I’ll get round to the rest after finishing Fortress (excellent so far) but then Manda Scotts new book will be arriving! :-/ what to read next!

  7. benkane
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 13:00 | Permalink

    @John: arggh. I know. I now never have less than about 5 books on the go at any one time. Talking of Manda Scott, she has an incredible review in The Independent today.

  8. John Salter
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 14:01 | Permalink

    Ben – Thank’s I’ll have a look. I’ve got all three books from Giles Kristians’Viking series to get through as well. It’s a never ending battle but a good one!

  9. John Salter
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 14:05 | Permalink

    Ben – Sounds good but did you spot the mistake on the cover?

  10. benkane
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 14:07 | Permalink

    @John: what a treat you’ve got in store with Giles Kristian’s books! They’re fantastic. You’ll hate me, if you haven’t got these, but have you read Robert Low’s four Oathsworn Viking books? Also bloody brilliant…

  11. benkane
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 14:07 | Permalink

    @John: no, what mistake?

  12. John Salter
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 14:10 | Permalink

    Ben – Yes that’s another excellent trilogy by all accounts and it’s in the pile as well. I started the first one once but didn’t get on with it but they’re supposed to be brilliant. His latest, The Lion Wakes (I think) isn’t going down too well.

  13. John Salter
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 14:11 | Permalink

    The title is, The Spy’s Revenge!

  14. benkane
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 14:16 | Permalink

    @John: I’m confused now – which book – Manda’s one on the review in the Indo?

    PS – just seen it – eagle eyes on you! Oh dear. Hopefully no one will notice…

  15. annis
    Posted 11 May 2011 at 21:10 | Permalink

    One reason why Robin Hood remains perennially popular is his ability to reshape himself to the times, and of course he appeals to that touch of anarchy which lurks in every soul, however law abiding 🙂 A couple of years ago both Angus Donald’s “Outlaw” and Adam Thorpe’s more literary “Hodd” explored a modern “Dark Robin” persona. Dan Jones wrote an entertaining double review at the time:

  16. John Salter
    Posted 12 May 2011 at 08:44 | Permalink

    Outlaw – I’m well into Outlaw now and really enjoying it. The darker side is much more realistic than that bloke prancing around wearing tights and something I would read as opposed to the old version, even if it’s purely fictional, or is it? 🙂

  17. benkane
    Posted 12 May 2011 at 09:15 | Permalink

    @John: I think it’s fictional as nothing can really be proved about Hood existing. Still a great read!

  18. John Salter
    Posted 12 May 2011 at 12:01 | Permalink

    Ben – I thought that the latest film was good, could have been better especially the constantly changing accent of that Gladiator bloke. Someone tried to say on Amazon it was because he had travelled and had picked up the accents around the World. That’s rubbish though because joined up at 17 and went round the World for 25 years and didn’t pick one up.

    I just did a review of Fortress on HWA and when I submitted it, it vanished! Arrrrrrrrgggghhhh

  19. John Salter
    Posted 12 May 2011 at 12:33 | Permalink

    I give up, just wrote it all out again and it disappeared once more.

  20. Posted 12 May 2011 at 23:50 | Permalink

    Heh, I need to pry that book out of my nephew’s hands. He filched it before I got around to reading it myself. 🙂

  21. benkane
    Posted 13 May 2011 at 14:10 | Permalink

    @John: that’s most annoying. I’ll email Manda about it to see if she knows more…

  22. John Salter
    Posted 13 May 2011 at 16:21 | Permalink

    Ben – Thanks, I don’t know what it was but in the end I reverted to copying and pasting from the Amazon review I did. Cheating kind of but it’s still mine.

  23. benkane
    Posted 13 May 2011 at 16:44 | Permalink

    @John: nothing wrong with that – I do it too! 😉 I asked Manda, who looked into it, and couldn’t find owt wrong. (I’ve had similar problems on another forum, so maybe it’s just an occasional glitch. A very annoying one, however!

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