A young child is found on a tip heap and is rescued from a dismal future by Sir Kai ap Gruffydd, a man whose courage and fighting prowess is known all over England. There is something about this girl that speaks to him . . . like he has somehow known her from his past. When he asks her name, she tells him. Her name is Marion. With the guiding hand of her new guardians, Marion blossoms into a young lady who can recite the catechisms taught to her by nuns, and then execute the most intricate sword-fighting skills ever seen by man or woman.
In the meantime, the Sheriff of Nottingham has been secretly working for Philip Augustus of France, whose sole purpose is to create civil unrest in England to undermine and emasculate King John. The foul treatment of the people of England by the sheriff galvanizes a gang of outlaws, under the leadership of Robin Hood, to thwart the sheriff of all efforts at every opportunity. Our heroine, Marion, is drawn into this conflict when she sees impoverished women and children who are suffering from the consequences of high taxation, forced labour, and brutal violence.
It is up to Robin Hood and Marion, along with their compatriots such as Friar Tuck and Alan a Dale, to outwit and outmuscle the sheriff, and bring down his use of unjust draconian power against the rights of the common weal.
"Writing in the historical fiction genre can be a difficult route for an author to take. The expectations of the history purists will always be different from readers just looking for a good, entertaining storyline. Creating the right mix of accurately researched factual background with an inventive, fictional plot often requires some clever negotiation through the literary landscape! Throw in the further complications of familiar characters and themes from the universally-loved legend of Robin Hood threading their way in and out of the story and you may well begin to wonder if the author might have set himself one “helluva” mountain to climb!
So how does Canadian-based writer, Jack Heerema, fare on his first outing as a published author? Well, the answer is surprisingly well! He meets the challenges head-on with a narrative that hangs together solidly and ticks all the boxes regarding plot, characters, political intrigue and emotional drama. Right from the first few crucial opening paragraphs he pulls the reader into a medieval world of corruption and espionage that quickly makes you want to discover more. There’s plenty of action and the drama twists and turns in some interesting ways.
The heroine of the title brings a new dimension to the “Maid Marian” character, for while reverently heeding the teachings of the nuns, she also develops amazing sword fighting skills, which, together with Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Alan a Dale, she puts to good use to help foil the evil Sheriff of Nottingham’s secret plans to stir up civil unrest in collaboration with Philip Augustus of France.
It’s also interesting to note that the author embarked on this debut novel having suffered a stroke that affected his speech and he was advised by medics that engaging in some creative writing might prove to be an effective therapy. How right they were - for Jack Heerema’s inspired efforts not only successfully overcame his speech difficulties, but also resulted in an entertaining and worthwhile work of historical fiction that is well worth a read."
--Robert White, World Wide Robin Hood Society