"The prophecies all indicate that the time of darkness .... when Evil will walk free on the earth, roaming where it will and killing whomever it wishes .... will take root on the day the king sets sail, abandoning his people to their fate."
That time has come. King Richard, along with many of his noblemen, has sailed for the Holy Land leaving his brother, Prince John, to reign in his absence. John's cruelty and greed is quickly made evident to the people. What is less apparent at first is the unspeakable evil that he's brought with him to England. No one's sure how to fight this spreading dark magic, but the prophecies give one glimmer of hope.
"A man will rise and accept the mantle of leadership, to fight a war while the infirm can only watch .... (a man) of Sherwood."
I don't read as much fantasy these days as I used to, but every once in awhile I get in the mood for an epic read with magic and swords (or a bow and arrow in this case), good vs. evil, and an unexpected (and often reluctant) hero. Mark of the Black Arrow, the first book in the Robin Hood: Demon's Bane trilogy by Debbie Viguie and James R. Tuck is a fun retelling of Robin Hood but with a supernatural twist. I liked it a lot. Especially the characters. As the king's niece, Marian is determined to stop Prince John despite the vulnerability of her own position in his court. She forms a small rebellion with Will Scarlet, Alan-a-Dale, Little John and Friar Tuck. But what they really need is a hero to lead them. Only the Hood is just an old legend. And Robin Longstride? He's young and stubborn and hot-tempered, and more at home hunting in Sherwood Forest than he is at his own home. He's also just the man they need if they have any hope of defeating Prince John and the very evil (and not-quite-human) Sheriff of Nottingham.
Talk about a good first book in this fantasy series! I really liked Robin, Marian and Will. And I can't wait to read the next two books. Here's hoping my library gets them in soon.