As part of Osprey's new Myths and Legends series, Smith deconstructs the legend of Robin Hood, taking it back to its roots as a collection of 15th-century ballads and examining the fundamental elements. In crisp, concise, accessible language, he retells many of the most enduring Robin Hood stories from its formative periods--both the original A Gest of Robyn Hode, and later evolution in the 16th, 17th, even 19th centuries. Alongside the adventures of Robin, Little John, Will Scarlet and the rest, Smith adds historical and cultural details, placing them in context with the times and with the ongoing narrative as a whole; he even takes a stab at identifying the most likely candidates for the real Robin. As an introduction and thorough grounding to an enduring legend, this is perfect: it covers enough territory to familiarize any reader with the essential themes and components, while keeping it simple enough to appeal to any age group. Copious photos and art help to flesh things out. While Smith could have gone into more depth in the section concerning modern reinterpretations (though that might have proven prohibitively complicated); as it is, he hits the highlights of the cinematic legacy. Whether an entry point for new fans, or a leaping-off point for further research, this focus on Robin Hood is ideal.
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