FICTION

Lionhearts

Forge. (Nottingham, Bk. 2). Sept. 2020. 560p. ISBN 9781250195852. $27.99. F
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Robin Hood is dead, killed in Nottingham Castle at the end of Makaryk’s previous book (Nottingham). In the aftermath, several Robin Hoods spring up with varying agendas, but one is more vicious than the others. While nobles scheme for advantage and peasants squabble for food, England is unsteadily ruled in the absence of Richard the Lionhearted, held for ransom in Austria. As Makaryk reinvents this well-known tale, one RH is manic-depressive, with visions of his deceased girlfriend; another RH is a psychopath, hacking limbs off peasants who don’t comply with his capricious commands. All story lines converge when Prince John, written as fey and disingenuous, takes over Nottingham Castle in expectation of an attack by the French. The last third of the book is consumed with the violence accompanying the siege of the city (by Richard, actually) and from the opportunists within who seek retribution for acts real and perceived of the past. Ultimately, the story lines are too many, and the narrative gets bogged down by characters for whom readers will have no reason to root.
VERDICT Readers of the first volume may want to continue this convoluted tale, but starting here is not recommended.

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