"Well researched and enjoyably written, Wolf's Head is a fast-paced and original recasting of a familiar legend. McKay's gift as a storyteller pulls the reader into a world of violence, passion, injustice, and revenge and leaves us wanting more!" (Glyn Iliffe, author, The Adventures of Odysseus series)
When a frightened young outlaw joins a gang of violent criminals their names - against a backdrop of death, dishonour, brotherhood, and love - will become legend.
England, AD 1321: After viciously assaulting a corrupt but powerful clergyman Robin Hood flees the only home he has ever known in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Becoming a member of a notorious band of outlaws, Hood and his new companions - including John Little and Will Scaflock - hide out in the great forests of Barnsdale, fighting for their very existence as the law hunts them down like animals.
When they are betrayed, and their harsh lives become even more unbearable, the band of friends seeks bloody vengeance.
Meanwhile, the country is in turmoil, as many of the powerful lords strive to undermine King Edward II's rule until, inevitably, rebellion becomes a reality and the increasingly deadly yeoman outlaw from Wakefield finds his fate bound up with that of a Hospitaller Knight.…
"Wolf's Head" brings the brutality, injustice, and intensity of life in medieval England vividly to life, and marks the beginning of a thrilling new historical fiction series in the style of Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow.
©2013 Steven A. McKay (P)2014 Steven A. McKay
This is a fast-paced telling of the Robin Hood story (or the beginning of his story as this is the first book of a series) told in the spirit of a Bernard Cornwell or Simon Scarrow historical adventure.
The gritty realism and earthy humour seems more in keeping with the subject matter than the tone often taken in historical adventures. These characters sound like the rough and ready people medieval outlaws living in the wild must have been.
Ellsworth's reading matches the tone of the book nicely. He selects appropriate pace for the story and adopts appropriate voice "identities" which emphasize specific characters quite effectively. This is the first book I have heard read by Ellsworth and he is clearly a professional. His voice is easy on the ear; always important when committing to a ten-hour audio experience.
Well, I might like to take Matilda of Wakefield out for dinner, but Robin might break my nose. (A lot of noses get broken in McKay's writing!)
A refreshing retelling of the origins of the Robin Hood legend, convincingly blending the familiar story with a realistic historical setting.
This version is set in Yorkshire during the unstable reign of Edward II, an idea consistent with some of the early ballads and the time and place most likely to have spawned the legend according to many historians.
It is a gritty, well-told, fast-moving story, plausibly told. McKay writes well and holds the reader's interest with steadily building tension and conflict on every page. The author is clearly familiar with the Robin Hood legend, both in its original ballad elements and the tired tropes and clichés from children's books and Hollywood films, and he skillfully plays with the reader's expectations, conforming and reconstituting the story in a satisfying and original way.
When the last page is turned, the reader is left eager for volume two. For a first novel, I would call McKay's debut historical novel a triumphant entry and I will watch with anticipation to see not only the next installments in this intended trilogy, but also his future projects.
Ellsworth is a fine reader and does the novel and its characters credit. Definitely worth a listen.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
The Robin Hood legend is so appealing and its historical roots so fog bound that it is ideal material for writers with an historical bent and the chops to combine its familiar elements into a tale both familiar and refreshingly new. McKay makes a good start of it with a lively, rustic setting in keeping with a specific moment in British history and an appealing young future hero who easily garners our sympathy and support. Unfortunately, by starting with a teenager whose only qualifications as the renowned Hood-to-be are superb skills with a bow and a good and generous heart, the author makes it very difficult for us to believe that Robin becomes the unparalleled swordsman, tactical genius and superb leader of hardened, older men he needs to be within the scant year he is given in this first book in the series. Suspension of disbelief is always necessary in these tales, but we need a few threads strong enough to support our willing credulity. Those are missing here, and as a result, by the end I felt as though I were in a fairy tale world where one does best if there are no questions asked. Too bad, really, because we are given a very interesting mix of semi-familiar characters and the plotting is quite strong.
Given the expert narration by Nick Ellsworth, this could have been a really satisfying retelling. I rather wish the story had begun later in Robin's development so that brief glimpses of back story would have supplied the experience and maturation he needed to be convincing. Too late for that now, sadly, and I will not be going on to the next in the series.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
This is not a bad book and it is also not a great book. It was interesting enough that I listened to the whole thing. It is a little rougher then any other Robin Hood story I have ever read. Robin Hood ends up doing a lot of killing. While this is probably more real then the cartoon Robin Hood, the scenes were not that well done. For Example a woman bites off a man's penis, while it is hard and there is no blood. I did not see that coming and thought it added some realism to the time and place, but was disappointed that it was cleaned up to the point of not being real. There are other problems, too many things just happen to fall in place. Robin Hood is a lot like Jack Lord was on the old Hawaii Five-0. If he says What If?, you can take it to the bank that is the way it is going to happen. I also had problems with a character who is all broke up, over his dead family from three years ago, but does not realize, his then five year old daughter is still alive. Hood happens to discover her when he goes to this guy's hometown. He just has a hunch he will find something that will make the guy want to live, and lo and behold he finds his now 8 year old daughter.
I like the historical aspect of the story and I felt I was in old England. He did a good job of showing how oppressed the people where and why. While McKay is not a Michael J. Sullivan or Joe Abercrombie, he can write.
Once again, I disagree with others on the narrator. This guy has a lilt at the end of each sentence which makes it sound like he is reading a nursery rhyme. He also has a sort of deadpan delivery during action scenes, which is a great let down to the action. He is not bad enough to ruin the book, I just believe a better narrator could have made this more exciting.
Surprisingly good story.
hmm.... its been a few books in between listening to this book and writing this review... don't recall!
Don't think I have listened to Nick Ellsworth before. I won't hesitate to listen to his narration again, as long as it is for the right book!
Sorry, can't answer that
I hesitated to pick this book, as I thought I knew the Robin Hood story, and it would be a bit boring to listen to. But I was pleasantly surprised. This story is entertaining, different, fast paced, rough and overall a good historical adventure. Keeps you hanging on. If you enjoy this book, I recommend the Outlaw series by Angus Donald.
Took me a couple of chapters to get into my first audio book but when l did....WOW, a wonderful book read very well, the narrator did a excellent job of bringing it to life.
Perfect flow to the story, life-like characters, brilliant fight scenes.
The village fair with the arrogant friar.
Yes, I plan on doing just that. Once isn't enough.
A fresh and interesting story about how Robin Hood and his merry men got started. All of the characters are robust and very 'human.' I think I experienced every emotion possible while listening to this wonderful tale of struggle, hope, and determination.
First time. He did an amazing job making the story come alive.
I sure tried to do just that but my job got in the way.
I'm going to go find other stories by this author as soon as I finish typing. All too often I will plod through a book only to lose interest towards the end - sometimes stopping with only a chapter or two left. Not this book! I truly cared about Robin and all those he held dear. I wanted to see how every single story thread ended. I was hooked all the way to the very last sentence.
The amount of thought, heart, and emotion the writer puts in this makes it easy to read/listen to. It is a great book by those standards as it lets you to get involved, and be a part of the story. I felt as if I was there the whole time. it was incredible. The author has done his research and made a great story out of it. While it is hard to write fiction while sticking to non-fiction timelines and names, he has done a great job on following the original story while adding his twists in there that make the story intriguing.
My favorite character has to be John Little. You don't know much about him yet and yet he is as loyal as they come. I love the devotion he gives to his leaders and how he uses his past experiences to help him in the future. Great character.
John Little and Friar Tuck have to be my favorite by Nick Ellsworth. He has such a great voice and does those ones better than the others in my opinion
It was a book that I wanted to listen to in one sitting. I had to put other things on hold so that I could finish it because I was so into the story.
Avid reader. Baker. Musician. Did I say avid reader?
The writing. I'm very picky about the audiobooks I buy. I mean, they're pretty expensive and I don't want to waste time on bad ones when there are so many good ones. I'm a big fan of fantasy/historical fiction and of Robin Hood so it's not the genre ... this book is just plain poorly written, and only barely saved by the decent reader. Poor plot and character development, characters acting as the writer needs them to rather than as they would in 'real life' (seemingly), continuity problems, and just plain awkward writing. I can't recommend this for even the most diehard Robin Hood fan.
No, I'll just be more careful in future.
Possibly. It's hard to say whether he saved this book from being a total loss or whether he didn't help any - the writing was that bad.
I may still return it. I kind of resent spending money on something this bad, though I did end up listening to it to the end, which after this first chapter I didn't think I could tolerate!
In a small, peaceful town on the Equator, the sun always sets at 6, and a good audiobook is always the perfect evening companion.
Wolf’s Head is an engaging story that combines some familiar characters with several new ones in a fresh take on the forest legend. Since Robin Hood’s real historical origins are shaky at best, it’s hard to question the accuracy of the plot. There is a wicked sheriff and more than a few evil noblemen, along with a host of villagers, relatives, and tradesmen who are only too willing to collaborate with the colorful outlaws. The action is often more brutal than the childhood versions we remember.
Steven A. McKay’s writing is colorful and descriptive, but often falls victim to ponderous adverbs that hamstring its flow. The plot moves briskly most of the time. Sometimes the prescient insights of Robin and others approaches the level of magic, but there is no Merlin in this story. Nick Ellsworth gives a warm and enjoyable reading with a light touch throughout. Wolf’s Head is the first in a series, so some threads are inevitably left hanging at the end.
There is no sort of ending. It leaves me totally disappointed. I would like to see how it ends but will not buy the next book.
"Once you start, you cannot stop."
Plausible, gripping, unputdownable.
Some sad moments, and some very happy ones, I don't want to spoil it for anyone contemplating this book. i actually had a laugh out loud and a little sob.
This is the first time I have heard Nick Ellsworth, but he is certainly one of the narrators that will swing my decision to buy. He reads with perfect balance. No hammy overacting, or dreadful foreign accent impersonations, but gets the story told with conviction.
I wish I could have listened in one sitting, I was kept awake until the early hours for three nights, listening to,"just one more chapter."
This is a first for me into this era. I was totally impressed with the authors ability to put me at the scene, so to speak, it says a lot for the research put into it.I really felt for the characters, and the injustices that put them into their situation. There are characters I would like to play bigger parts, maybe in the next book? As far as I am concerned this book has the perfect balance of intrigue and action, and my enjoyment was completed with the superb narration. Left me wanting more.
"One of three - all good"
Possible although I don't usually repeat for some time
Well written, well constructed story and exceptionally well read
This is an excellent story takes a little while to get used to the narrators style
"The title was the only good point about it."
The style and language could have been more appropriate.
Changeling by Philippa Gregory
If the narrator had tried to read with some emotion or differentiated between the characters.
I love everything to do with Robin Hood which was why I picked this up. I commend the Author's effort to research the time, but that's about it. My main problem was the language. I know it would hardly have been practicle to write with "thou and thy", you have to make your book readable, but there was no need to write with 21st century dialogue and all the swearing made the style very coarse. There was also very little emotion and I couldn't tell you what the characters were like. In all, a disappointment.
Please classify this book as a children's book...
All of them
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