The medieval setting is portrayed beautifully, including the vast gulf between the upper and lower classes of society, the corruption and greed of the nobility, and the hypocrisy of the medieval Roman Catholic church where religion has degenerated to mere outward rituals. Even the language is somewhat antiquated, which initially seems tedious, but persevere because you will soon find that this an enjoyable and essential addition that heightens the heroic atmosphere of the story. But the medieval setting is not presented without a social commentary - Pyle shows that the unbalanced social structure inevitably resulted in the oppression of the poor and weak. It is left to Robin Hood and his men to take justice into their own hands, and fight nobly for the cause of the downtrodden. Such justice is accomplished in a questionable manner, because the notion of robbing the rich to help the poor implicitly endorses civil disobedience. But the more important theme of seeking justice and maintaining truth and right is in itself a noble one. With Robin Hood, we find ourselves wanting justice, and being prepared to make unselfish sacrifices in order to achieve it. When justice is done, it is actually the greed and corruption of the nobility that has led to its own destruction and ruin.
But the real attraction of this gem are the enthralling exploits of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Howard Pyle presents Sherwood Forest as a rather glamorous utopian world where feasting and song abound, where it is never winter, and where the ale rarely runs dry. Robin Hood clearly represents a form of hedonism, and in his company there is never a lack of action, adventure, or for that matter - ale. But its not the beer that attracts us to Robin Hood, its rather his bravado. There is no end to the accomplishments of muscles and mind, as he and his merry band outwit all comers by sheer physical skill in archery, wrestling, swordmanship, and quarter-staff combat, or by outsmarting them with deceit and disguise. To our delight, Robins brawn and brains always come out on top at the end.
Howard Pyles collection of Robin Hoods merry adventures is a classic that is constantly entertaining and exciting - one that youll want to own and read over and over!