Title: KING ROBIN
Author: R.A. Moss
Genre: Historical Drama
Setting: England, France Date: 7/28/2020
Analyst: James Chatterton
LOGLINE: The life & times of Robin Hood are told from his boyhood in Nottingham, through his adventures with the Merry Men, to his reign as King Robert of England.
COMMENTS SUMMARY: This generation-spanning saga has an ambitious sweep that spans decades. It seems tailor-made for a multi-season series on streaming or cable. It seems designed to put the legend of Robin Hood on the same plane as modern shows like Rise of Empires, Knightfall, The Last Kingdom and even Game of Thrones. The author cherry-picks from all of the various versions of the Robin Hood legend for a fresh and compelling take.
1215: KING ROBERT AKA ROBERT WEBBER AKA ROBIN HOOD (61) is in his chancery in the royal castle at night when a group of invading peasants attempts a sneak attack. He runs across the room and intercepts them before they can make it out of the narrow hallway. This gives him the chance to engage them individually and keep them at bay until the royal guard arrives. He loses consciousness from a wound and wakes up when the battle is over, with corpses everywhere. King Robert ferreted out anyone who might lead a real uprising against him long ago. But there are still spasms of revolt after 23 years on the throne. As King Robert directs his CAPTAIN, his mind drifts back to the past.
1164: Robert (10) travels to the town of Nottingham from his mother ANNA WEBBER’S nearby farm for Latin lessons. He dislikes the taunting from the town bullies he always has to pass through like a gauntlet. Robert is jeered because everyone in the village knows he is the bastard son of the local lord. All Robert has been told is that his Father traveled to London looking for work, and died there when he was an infant. Robert hears the bells, and is almost late for his lesson with FRIAR TUCK.
After the lesson, Robert notices his neighbor FAYE ROLFE (12), on her way out with a basket of food. The neighborhood bullies accost her because of the harelip she is afflicted with. Robert ambushes them with a club, drives away the bullies, and runs off at Faye’s urging.
The SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM joins SIR RALPH TALBOT, the Baron of Nottingham, at his hunting camp in a wide meadow. Sir Ralph has done well accruing venison. Sir Ralph and the Sheriff have an uneasy alliance, since his role as the King’s tax collector gives him power that could rival that of a lord. The Sheriff informs Sir Ralph of young Robert’s transgression, and surely expects some punitive action against Sir Ralph’s son. Sir Ralph is impressed by Robert’s bravery, and decrees the punishment be light. Robert is to be sent to a monastery to learn the sword and the bow.
1172: Robert (18) bids farewell to his mother and grandfather SIMON WEBBER as he prepares to travel to London with Sir Ralph. Robert makes it plain that he knows Sir Ralph is his real father, but Anna reminds him that the privileges afforded them could disappear if Robert presses the point. So he agrees to keep the fiction up. Anna advises Robert that even though he will be around nobility in London, they will never be better people if he keeps his honor and his word. She also insists he remember that he comes from humble folk, and to respect the poor. Anna gives Robert an amulet to wear as a reminder of that legacy.
Robert arrives at Westminster Hall with Sir Ralph. The Sheriff delivered a royal writ from KING HENRY revoking Sir Ralph’s hunting privileges. Sir Ralph is there to arrange an audience and persuade His Highness to change the decision. The Lord Justiciar, ROBERT DE BEAUMONT, decides who gets to see the King. Sir Ralph has actually brought Robert along for a reason. His mission is to win the favor of De Beaumont’s daughter LADY MARIAN (18?) and bring Sir Ralph into the justiciar’s inner circle.
Sir Ralph throws a feast that night, and Marian is seated next to Robert. Robert has done well with the maidens with his considerable charms back in Nottingham, but they are initially lost on Marian. When Marian discovers Robert’s sincerity and virtue, she warms right up. They go out for a walk. Marian decides she prefers to call Robert “Robin.” She is betrothed to SIR CLEMENT, the son of the EARL OF KENT, for purposes of an alliance. Clement is gay, so she’s resigned herself to a lifetime of taking lovers for romance. Robert kisses her. Marian introduces him to a new form of pleasure, oral sex.
Robert’s mission with Marian is successful. The King grants Sir Ralph an audience, and petitions for the return of his hunting rights. The King declines, but makes it plain that the hunting rights are for sale. Sir Ralph produces a declaration signed by three other Barons’ whose hunting rights have been revoked to protest the decree. The King is revoking rights and selling them to finance his wars of vanity in France. The King refuses of course, and Sir Ralph insults the King by turning his back rather than exiting facing the King. Sir Ralph is charged with contempt. His taxes are doubled. The other Barons dissolve their alliance out of fear. Sir Ralph orders Robert back to Nottingham for his own safety. Robert has the feeling he’s saying goodbye to he father. Robert diverts to De Beaumont’s home to say goodbye to Marian.
After returning to Nottingham, Robert learns that Sir Ralph has been killed on the road from London, the apparent victim of brigands. Robert attends Sir Ralph’s funeral. Robert has not only lost his father, whom he was becoming close to in London, but there were no provisions for the Webber’s in Sir Ralph’s will. The Webber’s have lost their stipend. Robert also knows he will never be interred in Lenton Abbey with his father. He will always carry the taint of low-born blood. Certain that the king is behind his father’s murder, Robert vows to avenge Sir Ralph’s death.
Robert tends the family farm, trying to work out how to keep it going without Sir Ralph’s stipend. Four warriors show up to extend an invite to join the hunting party of the King’s son, PRINCE RICHARD. Robert rides out expecting an ambush, taking back trails to protect himself. But Robert accepts the risks. He has decided to kill Prince Richard in revenge for his father's murder. Summoned into the prince's tent, Richard surprises Robert. The Prince opposes the King’s tyrannical rule, and is assembling an army to overthrow him. The Prince is impressed with Robert, and asks him to join, promising to uphold the stipend if he is successful. Robert pledges to join Richard’s rebellion.
1173: During his first command, Robert kisses his amulet for luck before attempting to take Thetford, a key village controlled by an ally of the King. With the aid of his officers JOHN LITTLE AKA LITTLE JOHN & GILBERT WHITEHAND, Robert stages an operation that catches the village guard unprepared on a Sunday. After the battle, Robert presents the warriors his men have killed along with their weapons and horses to the Baron of Thetford, SIR EDWARD BLAKE, and asks the Baron to meet with Prince Richard. Impressed by Robert’s gesture of honor, Sir Edward ends up joining Prince Richard’s rebellion. In recognition, Prince Richard makes Robert his new adjutant.
1175: Over the next few years, Robert leads the Prince’s men on raids that add towns and villages to Prince Richard’s rebellion. Marian uses her position in King Henry’s court to provide valuable intelligence that leads to victorious campaigns. SIR HUGH BIGOD, THE EARL OF NORFOLK and his wife LADY FARAH host a celebratory feast at Castle. But the celebration is marred when Lady Farah jests about the Princes’ bladder, and Sir Hugh jokingly impugns Marian’s honor in front of Robert. They are all worried about what will happen when they lose Marian’s intelligence. She is to be married soon, and will reside in Canterbury, away from the court. After Sir Hugh apologizes, Prince Richard begins the plans for the final battle against King Henry.
1176: As Prince Richard sets things up outside London, he has a frank talk with Robert. Robert has not been the same since Marian’s impending marriage was mentioned. Prince Richard grants Robert one night to seek out Marian near the eve of battle. Robert sneaks into Westminster Hall disguised as a lame monk and finds Marian. They spend a passionate night in a Baron’s deserted country home. Marion steers them from intercourse, to keep from becoming pregnant. They love each other, but Robert is unable to say the words.
Robert rides out early the next morning, determined to win her love by defeating King Henry. But he sees Sir Hugh’s army marching into London with Prince Richard in a cage. Sir Hugh has betrayed the Prince for King Henry. The rebellion is crushed.
1177: Robert is back working his farm in Nottingham a year later with his spirit crushed. He recalls how most of Prince Richard’s outnumbered men were slaughtered. Robert sent the few survivors home to their families, except for Little John and Whitehead. They had nowhere to go, and came back to work as extra hands on Robert’s farm. Little John struck up a relationship with Faye. Friar Tuck shows up one day with a letter for Robert from Prince Richard.
Prince Richard spent a few months in a dungeon, but the QUEEN MOTHER convinced the King to free him. Prince Richard was then exiled to Wales, where he got the idea that earned his freedom. Richard is taking command of the army to defeat the King’s enemies in France. This should eliminate the need for the increased taxation to fund the war, and then eliminate the need for rebellion. Robert is dubious at first, but signs on with the Prince’s promise of a more generous stipend for his family.
Before leaving for France, Robert meets Marian again who is now married. Her husband, Sir Clement, will also be joining Richard’s army. Along with a regiment of troops, Sir Clement is bringing his lover, WILL SCARLETT. Marian still loves Robert, but following Robert’s example of virtue, she remains faithful to Sir Clement. Robert vows that no one will share his bed until they are together again.
1178: Robert feels he’s failed Prince Richard as a commander on the field of battle in France. Prince Richard counsels Robert that it’s a problem of motivation. The troops are cowardly because they don’t have enough incentive. Robert rolls back his rules against pillaging. The troops are free to pillage for spoils of war, but Robert draws the line at sexually assaulting the women. This seems to work.
After Will enlists in Robert's elite cavalry regiment, Sir Clement asks Robert to protect his "protege" from harm. The pair argue bitterly when Robert refuses. Sir Clement is found dead soon after that. Prince Richard made sure that Robert had supper with him when the deed was done, so that they both have a ready-made alibi. Will does not. Robert is conscripted to attend Clement’s funeral in Prince Richard’s stead, to keep suspicion off him.
Robert meets with Marian while back in Canterbury for the funeral. Her Father-in-law thought Sir Clement was an embarrassment. From what she’s heard, Will is innocent, and Prince Richard is suspected of arranging Sir Clement’s death. Marian thinks they can finally be together, but Robert cannot serve a man without honor. Nevertheless, he returns to the battlefield.
Robert joins Prince Richard’s men as they’re failing to take Amiens Castle in France. Robert promotes Will, reorganizes the battle plan, and leads the men in taking the castle. He is disheartened afterwards as he sees some troops assaulting women. The battle establishes Robert’s fame as “the hero of Amiens.”
1181: Prince Richard’s men sail back to England victorious after three years of battle. He has earned the nickname of Lionheart, and is back in line for succession to the crown. England is keeping the territories it conquered. Robert had hoped to finally be with Marian, but her father promised her to the EARL OF BERKSHIRE. Robert is devastated. Little John and Gilbert buy land to farm back in Nottingham, while Robert serves as Prince Richard’s military advisor in court in London. Robert is received warmly by King Henry, and meets Prince Richard’s younger brother PRINCE JOHN. The two Princes barely conceal their contempt for each other. King Henry is very ill, and is on death’s door. Prince Richard shows Robert a hidden passage, and convinces the very reluctant Robert to sneak in and kill King Henry. King Henry is a tyrant who sends men to war and taxes heavily. The sooner he dies, the sooner Prince Richard can put an end to it all. It will also finally give Robert the revenge for his father’s death. And, Prince Richard will convince Marian’s father to release her from her engagement.
Robert sneaks in, going against his feelings. He’s lost the need for revenge after all the battles he’s fought. But King Henry has just expired when Robert enters.
Richard is king now. King Richard does indeed release Marian from her engagement. Robert & Marian spend a blissful three months together. But Robert will not marry her until he has a title as a baron to make them equal. They are then summoned to King Richard’s coronation.
Back in London, Robert is assigned a valet, ARTHUR BLAND, who is adroit at steering Robert through the social protocols of the court. King Richard feels compelled to lead a Crusade to the Holy Land to shore up his unsteady support among the nobles. There are no vacant baronies at the moment. So Robert reluctantly agrees to accept a knighthood as Sir Robert and lead the Royal Guard as Marshal. King Richard is compelled to leave the harsh & petty Prince John in place as ruling regent. Robert’s command will be out of Prince John’s jurisdiction, so that he can keep the Prince’s worst instincts in check.
1183: Prince John enacts a new requirement of scutage to be paid by the nobles. The EARL OF DERBY refuses. Robert narrowly avoids having to battle the Earl by negotiating a truce, where the Earl will pay in installments. This angers Prince John, who claims it made him look weak. Prince John then increases the taxes on the families of the men serving with King Richard in the Crusades. This is too much for Robert. With Will, Little John & Gilbert’s aid, Robert conducts daring raids on the sheriffs collecting the taxes as masked highwaymen over the next six months. They are able to track these sheriffs down thanks to Intel from ADAM FANNING at the Exchequer. He and Will are lovers. The tax money is turned over to Adam and applied to the accounts of the soldier’s family’s accounts to keep them credited. However, the money does not make it back to Prince John.
1184: Prince John orders Robert to do something about the robberies. Robert declares that they have to cool it for awhile to avoid suspicion. But Adam comes up with a way to target the sheriffs who are also skimming from Prince John. Robert and his men set up and arrest DESMOND BENNING, the Sheriff of Yorkshire. Robert then embarrasses Prince John in court by presenting Benning’s signed confession, proving that one of the Prince’s sheriffs is a thief.
1185: Six months later, Prince John has co-opted the Order of the Cross. They escort the richest sheriffs and increase his wealth by seizing the land of those they declare heretics. Adam’s is failing as a source, so Marian volunteers to find a better list of tax collectors to target from her father.
Will checks out the HIGH SHERIFF OF CUMBERLAND’S silver mine. It’s the first lead from Marian. Much time and effort was wasted when Adam’s last leads didn’t pan out. Will muses on how he is in reality motivated by his love for Robert. He has loved Robert since first sight. He disposed of Clement to protect Robert. He knows his love will always go unrequited, and has resigned himself to holding it as his secret. The silver mine also looks to be a bust, until CEDRIC the assayer offers the information Will needs to nab the scoundrels.
Thanks to fresh Intel from Will, Little John presides over a daring raid on a bridge to take the illicit taxes of another crooked sheriff.
Robert retires to his family home for Christmas with Little John, Gilbert, and Will as their guests. But the celebration is interrupted when Bland shows up with a warning from Marian. King Richard has been killed in the Holy Land. John is now the king, and has ordered the arrest of Robert and his family. RUDOLF MURDAC, THE SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM, is on his way with some men to take them in. Robert and his men hastily prepare themselves, and meet Murdac’s attack, killing all six of his men. Murdac is a coward, not a warrior, or even a lawman so he flees. This quality is actually why the absentee lord vetted him; in hopes he wouldn’t do too much damage to the citizenry. Robin, his men, and his family are all fugitives now. They gather supplies and leave for Sherwood Forest. They can live there and defend it. Bland joins up with them.
1186: The throne is much more of a burden than King John expected. The work is relentless, challengers need to be kept in line, and the taxes and scuttage coming in are never enough. Murdac was afraid of what would happen to him if he told the truth about having his men killed by only four men. So he made up a story about a coordinated attack by over two dozen masked warriors. The problem is that King John is now convinced that a full-scale rebellion is in swing outside Nottingham. Murdac is tasked with putting it down, and is saddled with troops from the Order of the Cross. Murdac sows seeds of dissent by forcing farmers to neglect their crops to build walls around Nottingham. They are then forced to stay in Nottingham with their families as food and supplies grow scarce.
Marian is under surveillance by King John’s spies. She trades places with her handmaiden to meet Robert. He wants her to officially denounce him to stay safe and keep giving them Intel. But she refuses. She goes to be with him instead, turning her back on her title. Her excellent marksmanship with a crossbow ends up coming in handy.
Murdac is now tasked with searching for a man he does not want to find. After being repelled from the woods by Robert’s camp, he realizes it’s a nightmare come to life. The peasant uprising he’s invented has somehow materialized.
Robert and John meet up with Friar Tuck, who throws in his support for them, while staying in Nottingham.
Bland creates combat garb designed to blend in with the green of the forest for added protection. Robert’s men go on raids to get silver to feed themselves. Their ranks gradually grow as peasants disenchanted with Murdac’s rule desert to join up.
Murdac feigns a leg injury to keep from going out on a patrol, and sends it out with LESTER “MUCH” MUCHISON in command instead.
Robert’s camp overhears Marian calling him Robin. His mother’s maiden name is Hoode. It’s decided to refer to him as Robin Hood in order to keep the identity of the rebel leader secret and distinct from Robert. But Much returns with twenty-four men lost to the rebels, who tricked them into splitting up and picked them off. Murdac locks Much up and gives him a choice. Infiltrate the rebels for Intel, or face his death and the death of his sister and her family in Sheffield.
Much seeks out the rebels and is welcomed into their midst. He hides his battle skill to masquerade as a farmer. His knowledge of Nottingham is valuable, and helps secure their trust faster. He claims there are men willing to fight against Murdac in Nottingham. They just need to be freed, and they’ll join up. Murdac also claims he knows how to sneak in. Much is motivated to save his sister and his own hide, but comes to respect Robert’s men.
Much leads Robert and Little John over a blind spot on the wall to collect eleven recruits, but he stays behind. Much confesses to Friar Tuck, and asks him to have Robert get to his sister’s family in London to get them to safety. The only way Much sees out of this is to kill Murdac. But he fails, and is locked up awaiting execution. Robert sneaks in on the day of Much’s execution with Gilbert & Little John and rescues Much. Robert leads them over rooftops, but Little John falls. They are forced to leave him behind to die from his severe injuries as they escape over the wall to safety.
Robert is dejected by Little John’s death, and considers splitting up the camp for the good of everyone. But everyone rallies around their leader, Robin Hood.
1189: Robert leads a raid on JACOB CYPORA, who is crossing a bridge with a hefty supply of silver. But Cypora suggests that instead of robbing the merchants crossing bridges, Robert control the bridges and extract a percentage for protection and safe crossing. Cypora figures he can save money from this rather than paying for more armed escorts, and Robin Hood’s men could make more with repeat business. It makes fiscal sense, and Robert takes Cypora up on the suggestion to control bridge crossings.
As Robin Hood’s rebels gain in strength, King John is besieged by complaints from barons and nobles to take action. A whisper attack launched by the Archbishop of York has spread rumors that King John is depraved and unholy. This has eroded his support from the Order of the Cross.
Murdac comes to De Beaumont as a spy, and reports that the barons in the Midlands are going to withhold payments of the King’s tax & scutage in protest against the King’s unwillingness to quell Robin Hood. De Beaumont comes up with a plan. King John claims he’ll be sending a powerful army up north to deal with Robin Hood. The barons will pay up for this, and then “circumstances” will arise to keep King John from sending the army that he cannot afford.
Robert wants to take Nottingham by force to withstand the army King John is threatening to send against Robin Hood. But Marian comes up with a better idea. They have Friar Tuck spread the word. Then Robert’s men surround the castle, while the peasants inside take up pitchforks and other makeshift arms. Outnumbered both in and outside, Murdac surrenders. Robert assumes his rightful place as the new Baron of Nottingham. Marian has the staff conduct their first official tour of the new baron’s residence. At a celebratory feast, Marian comes up with a further idea. They will keep the fiction of Robin Hood leading his rebels in the woods alive. This way King John will believe Robert and Robin Hood are separate, and not send an army to take back Nottingham. When questioned, Murdac claims that King John is sending an army in the spring, but Robert knows better than to believe that.
1190: Robert & Marian are married by Friar Tuck. They consummate their love traditionally for the first time that night.
Robert & Marian travel clandestinely with a small party to Lincoln Castle to ally some nobles with him against King John. Robert also offers compensation to BALDWIN DE REDVERS, THE EARL OF DEVON for the land that should be rightfully his anyways. De Redver’s wife, and Robert’s half sister by his father, JULIET DE REDVERS, convinces her husband to take the compensation for the land. A charter is signed which pledges an army of a hundred men each from nineteen Lords under Robert’s command.
1191: Robert’s grandfather Simon passes away. Gilbert opposes Robert’s plan to use the silver from the tolls to buy the land from De Revers that should rightfully be his anyways. But Robert needs to keep De Redvers as an ally. Gilbert and Robert are clearly starting to diverge. His body is found in the street the next day, his death ruled an accident. Robert declares the day of Gilbert’s death a village holiday.
King John brokers an alliance with the Earl of Norfolk, while Robert trains his disparate troops to fight as one with Much and Will. After learning about the King’s new ally, some of the barons siding with Robert change their allegiance to the king, and withdraw their troops.
King John leads his newly fortified army from the Earl of Norfolk on a march up north under De Beaumont’s counsel. De Beaumont has never accompanied a military campaign before, but King John’s nature and lack of experience makes it a necessity. They face off against Robert’s men, and outnumber them. But after the Earl of Norfolk betrays the King and withdraws his troops, Robert leads two companies around to charge the unprotected flank of the King’s men. King John retreats in fear, leaving De Beaumont to lead. A volley of arrows cuts down De Beaumont moments later. Robert gives chase after winning the battle, but King John has too much of a head start. He makes it to his ship, and sails to safety in France with the crown jewels and all the silver from the treasury he can take.
Robert leads his army to London, and takes the capital. But it’s a hollow victory, since England is now a poor nation thanks to King John’s thievery. Under Marian’s counsel, Robert is playing politics more and more to meet his ends. This disillusioned Gilbert, and now starts to disillusion Much as well.
Robert serves as Protector of the Realm from the Royal Palace as a Parliament of Lords is gathered for the first time in England’s history to select a king. But the kingdom is broke, thanks to King John. Robert takes Bland’s ill-advised suggestion to issue royal certificates of warranty for purchasing supplies from merchants. These are to be paid pack when the royal coffers have been filled back up, but that never happens. The certificates become worthless, and many merchants go bankrupt and close up shop later on.
Robert rushes to Anna’s deathbed after she is mortally injured in a coach accident. A vision has come to her, and before she passes away, she gets Robert to promise to take the throne and rule with honor and fairness for everyone. Those are her last words.
The Earl of Norfolk accuses Robert of being Robin Hood in England’s first Parliament, and attempts to have him arrested. But the Royal Guards outnumbers the Earl’s men, and Robert has the Earl arrested. Someone has betrayed Robert to the Earl. Will arrests Much in a tavern for betraying Robert.
Robert cancels Parliament and decrees that peasants in the military are exempt from rent to their lords. He and Marian preside over the public beheadings of Much and the Earl’s of Norfolk and Devon. Juliet informed on against her own hated husband in loyalty to Robert. Robert tells Marian that he will have to become ruthless to honor his mother’s wishes, or end up on the chopping block himself.
1192: More Lords are exposed as traitors, arrested by the Royal Guard, and executed. Robert rides to the deserted family cottage and finds the husband-less SARAH PAYNE squatting there with her son. Robert relents, and lets them stay. Although everyone knows Murdac to be dangerous, Robert has him freed and re-appointed as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robert reasons that since Murdac is a coward, he’ll be honest enough to do his job with Will’s supervision.
Marian tells Robert that he is going to be a father.
Robert leads a raid across on King Phillip of France’s Navy amassing across the Channel. Will’s men have been ambushing King Phillip’s men in the countryside to divert men back there. Robert’s men use fire arrows to burn King Phillip’s fleet.
GUY CURTMANTLE expects to be chosen as the next king at Parliament. But Robert’s defeat of the French fleet before it even set sail for England is the power-play that wins him the throne.
1193: Robert is king now. He & Marian’s daughter PRINCESS ANNA MARY CHARLOTTE WEBBER is born.
Robert’s new Lord Justiciar is Will’s uncle, SIR ARNOLD OSMUND. Robert goes against Sir Arnold’s counsel by annexing excess land from the Lords for the peasants, and not taxing the peasants. He relies on Tuck, who is now the new Archbishop of Canterbury, to assure the Lords that it is God’s will.
With Murdac’s kickbacks sharply diminished, and spies everywhere, he surreptitiously sets up EVA as a whore in a cottage, and pimps her out. But it still doesn’t bring in enough to make up for his shortfall.
1194: Sir Arnold’s criticizes Bland for cutting corners in the upkeep of the castle to avoid having to collect taxes. Unfortunately, that cost-cutting measure is not nearly enough to keep the debts from climbing. With much reluctance, Robert goes back on his word, and declares that the peasants must be taxed after the next harvest season.
Tuck brings a peasant woman to Robert’s royal court pleading for clemency from his taxes to save her family from starvation. Marian angers Robert by supporting the woman. Nevertheless, Robert rejects the woman's request. Marian counsels him later that they need to help their people, but Robert can’t see a way to do that without bankrupting the monarchy and being beheaded. Marian dreads how much she’s become like her father.
At Christmas, Marian tells Robert she’s expecting their next child.
1195: Murdac has seized Faye’s property and kicked her out to install Eva and MAGGIE AMES to whore for him. But it’s still not enough. They are barely making anything since no one has any money now. Faye gets her revenge by trailing Murdac at night and stabbing him to death.
Marian dies in childbirth. The baby dies as well. Robert sees it as a sign from God punishing him for his arrogance. He talks of abdicating, but Tuck counsels that Anna is a princess born. Robert cannot protect her from their enemies unless he remains the king.
Robert orders Will to put an end to the uprisings and turmoil across the land in Nottingham. Robert reasons that Will’s uncle doesn’t have the stomach for what must be done.
1215: The peasant revolt against King Robert nearly succeeded. But Robert knows the loss of blood from the cut on his leg has left him mortally wounded. When Bland checks on Robert in his chamber right after the attack, Robert hides the bleeding from his former valet. Resigned to dying, Robert reveals the worst of his sins to his only remaining friend. The carnage Will carried out at Nottingham came at Robert's command. Publicly, Will had shouldered the blame for the atrocities, a secret Will took to his grave. Robert confesses that he ordered Will to kill everyone who knew that Robert was Robin Hood, including Faye and Sarah who were hanged with the other ringleaders. Bland reminds Robert that he had to remain king to protect his daughter. Bland's words give Robert hope for redemption. On his deathbed, Robert asks Anna to be the ruler he should have been. He bestows upon her the amulet that was handed down to him by his mother.
Queen Anna’s initial act in a reign that lasts thirty-four years is to convene the realm’s first annual parliament, ending the absolute rule of England’s monarchs.
The life & times of Robin Hood are reimagined as an alternate history where the bandit becomes KING ROBIN, in this historical novel. This is a generation-spanning saga, with an ambitious sweep that spans decades and seems tailor-made for a multi-season television series. It seems designed to put the legend of Robin Hood on the same plane as modern shows like Rise of Empires, Knightfall, The Last Kingdom and even Game of Thrones. There are echoes of all the different versions of Robin Hood over the years, with a special affinity for the more adult themed, autumn Robin & Marian.
The central concept for this story is that it is a generation-spanning saga. It encompasses almost the entire life of Robert Webber (AKA Robin Hood), from 10-yrs old to his death at 61. Most people think of Robin Hood & his Merry Men, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor in Nottingham Forest. That part of the legend is not ignored, and occupies the center of this novel. But there is so much more. The long journey from a small boy to the King of England covers a lot of ground. Robert’s life before his Robin Hood period is just as rich and multi-faceted, with plenty of conflict and intrigue. His days as Protector of the Realm and finally King, are mired in political intrigues. It’s heartbreaking to watch Robert give in to corruption as he strives to live up to his promise to rule in honor and fairness for all. The pitfalls of rule are very clearly laid out here. No one is immune to it.
There is a large cast of characters, but Robert truly centers this story. He has three main motivations that propel him through life. They all dovetail together. One is his desire to care for his family, and keep their land safe from predatory nobles and sheriffs. Second is his quest for justice. This is instilled in him by his mother Anna, and stoked further by his illegitimate noble father Sir Ralph. The third motivation is his undying love for Marian. This drives Robert to do whatever he has to in order to live as man & wife on equal terms with Marian. Nothing else comes close to motivating Robert to ascend to nobility. He sacrifices much for this, and lives a life of chastity. But it’s worth it in the end when he weds her and she produces a daughter. It ends in tragedy unfortunately, but everything does eventually. The author has taken us beyond the living happily ever after part to these character’s inevitable ends.
Although Robert centers the story, the supporting cast is no less formidable. The author has played around with stereotypes and anachronisms. This could have been disastrous, but he’s used restraint to open up the possibilities without making anyone seem historically inaccurate. Marian is a very commanding personality. She is easily the equal of Robert, and she knows it. But she also knows the place of women in the Middle Ages, and knows how to function during that time. Marian spies for Robert against the corrupt rule of Prince John. She is a dominant voice in Robert’s court when he is king, motivating his decisions. They don’t all pan out, but they come from a place of compassion. She also saves herself for Robert. She is very sensuous, and in touch with her erotic life. She uses that to have an active love life with Robert, but to save her virginity for their wedding night. Marian is a very strong woman, somewhat reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s portrayal in Robin & Marian in that regard. After it becomes apparent that she doesn’t suffer fools easily, it also boosts Robert’s character in our eyes.
Most of the Merry Men are represented. Little John’s death midway through is the first of their band, and it takes a toll. However, this could probably stand to be expanded in a series. The build-up of Robert and Little John’s relationship doesn’t quite reach the point where the full emotional weight of his death can have the effect that it needs to. Friar Tuck serves his purpose well throughout the story, from teaching Robert Latin as a child to serving as his Archbishop.
But the author finds some fascinating ways to flesh out Will Scarlet and Much. Will is a gay nobleman’s son. It’s a narrative decision that makes sense not only in modern storytelling terms, but also historically. Will lives a life where everyone knows, but no one talks about it openly. This is how it probably would have been for a nobleman’s son back then. Where it gets fascinating is in the way Will uses these dual aspects of his identity to cultivate assets for Intel to aid Robert. Will is also chosen to make an example of Nottingham later, highlighting a chilling aspect of his character. There is an abundance of potential in Will’s character left unexplored. It would be perfect for a series.
Much starts out as a spy for the Sheriff, switches loyalties to Robert’s side, and betrays Robert when he feels that Robert has betrayed their convictions. His beheading is also one of Robert’s first steps in eliminating everyone who can reveal Robert as Robin Hood. It’s a fascinating character arc.
Murdac, The Sheriff of Nottingham is a cowardly civil servant in this version. In a nice bit of irony, his cowardice, laziness, and lack of imagination actually ignites the legend of Robin Hood far better than Robert ever could have. Murdac is even re-appointed to his post when Robert becomes king.
Bland the valet has a role that is very similar to Alfred in Batman. He has a dry wit, and is very capable in his duties. Bland is the one who comes up with the green uniforms for the Merry Men to blend in with the forest.
Prince, and then King Richard is the mentor who takes over for Sir Ralph. Robert has a complicated relationship with Richard. Richard is a born politician who knows how to play people and situations to get what he wants. He may have the good of the people in mind, but he’ll make whatever bargains and concessions necessary to achieve his aims. Robert is deeply conflicted about this at first. But Robert ends up adapting Richard’s style in his own rule probably more than he would have liked. It has mixed results.
Prince John is the main antagonist of the novel. He is also cowardly, and ruled by greed. His final act is to run off with the crown jewels and silver from the treasury to France. He’s never heard from again. This could be a missed opportunity. A quest to find Prince John and re-acquire the treasury could be a compelling story arc.
The structure for this novel is custom-designed for a multi-season cable or streaming series. There are at least three distinct seasons in it’s three acts: Robert’s rise from childhood to the death of King Richard, the adventures of Robin Hood & his Merry Men in Nottingham Forest, and the intrigue that leads to Robert’s reign as king of England until his death. Although the novel itself is a smooth read, there is a lot of room for expansion. This story could easily have been fleshed out to a trilogy. With the long span of time, distinct periods, large cast of characters, and multiple battles, conflicts and intrigues, there is no reason why a series based on this novel couldn’t run for at least 3-5 seasons. This novel takes in as many aspects of life in the Middle Ages as the author could work into the story. But despite the vast sweep of the novel, Robert anchors it. He is the undisputed protagonist, with a complicated interior life, who centers the story well.
KING ROBIN takes all of the various versions of the Robin Hood legend, and cherry-picks from them for a fresh and compelling take. This version is clearly for adults. It puts these enduring characters into a realistic milieu, where the morality is grey, and the decisions are never easy. With the structure and approach, it’s custom-built for streaming or cable audiences.
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