Mark of the Black Arrow (Robin Hood: Demon’s Bane #1), be it something of a mouthful, takes its inspiration from the heart of the legend, but combines it with a twist of black magic and more than a hint of the supernatural. As King Richard heads for The Crusades, leaving England in the hands of the malevolent Prince John, a darkness begins to spread across the land. Only the efforts of a few, including Maid Marion and Friar Tuck, can hope to keep it at bay… and, of course, with the help of a certain hooded hero.
There is scene-setting and pre-amble aplenty with Mark of the Black Arrow as it is some 250 pages or so into a 360-page book that talk amongst the “rebels” turns to the need for a saviour. Given the #1 in the title and the many threads to tie up come the finale, the author’s plans for a series are clear, but that said there is more than enough here to maintain the reader’s interest. Despite what feels a little like an elongated prologue at times, this is a book that will be enjoyable regardless of your level of prior knowledge.
If anything, the Robin Hood name itself may be the toughest sell. So regular are the outings of Sherwood’s most famous son that fatigue brought on by familiarity may prove a hindrance. That would be a shame as this bleak and bloody telling of the Robin Hood story makes engaging reading, and as origin stories go it’s a pretty good one.
ROBIN HOOD: DEMON BANE #1 – MARK OF THE BLACK ARROW / AUTHOR: DEBBIE VIGUIE, JAMES R. TUCK / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW