Thursday, October 3, 2013

ARC Review: Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Will in Scarlet
Author: Matthew Cody
Publication: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 8, 2013)

Description: Will Scarlet is on the run. 

Once the sheltered son of nobility, Will has become an exile. While his father, Lord Shackley, has been on the Crusades with King Richard, a treacherous plot to unseat Richard has swept across England, and Shackley House has fallen.

Will flees the only home he's ever known into neighboring Sherwood Forest, where he joins the elusive gang of bandits known as the Merry Men. Among them are Gilbert, their cruel leader; a giant named John Little; a drunkard named Rob; and Much, an orphan girl disguised as a bandit boy.

This is the story of how a band of misfit outlaws become heroes of legend - thanks to one brave 13-year-old boy.

My Thoughts: This retelling of the Robin Hood story puts Will Scarlet at the center. It is young Will who is the nobleman's son who is forced to flee Sir Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff of Nottingham or be sent as a hostage to Prince John. Will has grown up as a person who would rather play and play pranks than learn his future responsibilities to his people. With his father off with Richard on Crusade, his home is easy pickings for Prince John and the knights who support him.

Will flees to Sherwood Forest where he falls in with outlaws led by Gilbert the White Hand. He also meets John Little, Stout, Rob, and Much who is a girl masquerading as a boy. Though he is in danger of being killed by them, he convinces the outlaws that there is treasure at Shackley Castle and that he knows a way in. His real goal is to kill Sir Guy of Gisborne who killed his uncle and took his castle. 

Will, John, Much and Rob, who spends most of his time drunk if he can, and Stout are the team sent for the treasure. Things don't go quite as they had planned. Sir Guy is gone and they run into the leader of another outlaw band who is working with him. They barely escape but do manage to take a treasure box filled with silver with them. Adding to the trouble, Stout attempts to kill Will which he says Gilbert ordered.

Will, John, Rob and Much now need to stay away from Gilbert and the other outlaw band too. They stay with peasant families that they know. Seeing them gives Will a harsh awakening about the conditions in the world outside his father's castle. He determines to give away the silver to the peasants and he is the one who decides that they are going to rob from the rich and give to the poor.

The story is adventurous and entertaining. I liked seeing how Will went from a spoiled young aristocrat to a young man determined to help out the people of England by opposing the nobles who just want to bleed the country dry.

Fans of historical fiction and who like lots of battles, swordfights, and derring-do will enjoy this one. 

Favorite Quote:
"Killing wolves is supposed to teach me to be a great lord of men?" asked Will. "Aren't there any books on the subject?"

"No," said Geoff. "But sharing in your men's hardship, their danger, that's a start. And they are your men, Will. Despite Osbert's taunts, or even mine. We will be yours to command one day."
I was invited to read this book by NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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