Culled from legend and fact comes LADY OF THE FOREST, Jennifer Roberson's triumphant retelling of the Robin Hood chronicle. This gloriously romantic and historically accurate tale comes to life through Ms. Roberson's vibrant prose and her passion for the magic, romance, history and pageantry of the 12th century. For the first time much of the tale is told from Marian's point of view. As the story unfolds and the characters meet, readers may feel this is the story as it might have begun.

The tale begins with Robert of Lockeley's return to England after two years as Saladin's prisoner. Embittered, guilt-ridden and solitary, Robert reluctantly accepts his father's hospitality. It is not until he is face to face with beautiful Marian FitzWalter that he breaks through his wall of defenses; for he is honor bound to tell Marian of his responsibility for her father's death.

Gentle, intelligent and proud, Marian attracts men like honey does bees. The power-hungry William deLacey, Sheriff of Nottingham, desires her. Prince John covets her, and the Sheriff's man, Sir Guy Grisbaine plots to wed her. Yet it is the brooding Robert (AKA Robin) who captures Marian's heart when she is abducted by Will Scarlet. Going after Marian, Robert makes the acquaintance of the outlaws living in Sherwood Forest. He fights them first with swords and then with a bow and arrow, earning their respect.

Though a brilliant warrior, Robert's soul is scarred. Only Marian can begin to heal the pain he suffers and help him raise the ransom to release King Richard, saving England from John's greed.

These characters and the disenchanted monk, Friar Tuck, are brought together by their common need to see justice done, raise the ransom and restore England to her monarch. Their exploits are legendary, but in Jennifer Roberson's hands they come to life. Here is man beset by problems, a dark, brooding, Gothic hero who readers will instantly take to their hearts. Here is Marian, a real woman of her time, yet a woman with "modern sensibilities" we can appreciate and admire.

Jennifer Roberson joins the ranks of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Sharon Kaye Penman by combining truth with fiction and magic with reality to present a spectacular retelling of a classic romantic adventure. Brava!! (Apr., 593 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin