How to explain my feelings about Lady of the Forest? A romantic historical novel about Maid Marian and Robin Hood, it was an enjoyable escape and post-work-stress-reliever for a couple of weeks. I did enjoy it. Unfortunately, when I shut the back cover, I realized I had just read a six-hundred page book containing almost no surprises.
Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of the stellar Mists of Avalon, gushes about this book in the cover blurb, and so I was hoping for a novel that would make me rethink the Robin Hood legends, just as Mists made me look at the Arthurian corpus differently. Part of what made Mists fascinating was that it took an old tale and re-examined it, humanizing the “bad guys” and telling another side of the story. Mists questioned all of our assumptions about Arthur and Morgan.
But, Lady of the Forest questions nothing, challenges nothing. The characters are just what we expect them to be… It doesn’t rethink the legend any more than does Disney’s kids’ movie on the same theme. It may be a nice romance, but it’s not in the same league as the best historical fiction. If you want a romance, you might like this, but for a haunting tale of mysterious forests and renegade Crusaders, go read The Black Chalice by Marie Jakober.