Wolf's Head PDF Þ Paperback

Wolf's Head PDF Þ Paperback

Wolf's Head (The Forest Lord, #1) ☃ [PDF / Epub] ☂ Wolf's Head (The Forest Lord, #1) By Steven A. McKay ✑ – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk 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

Af 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 ENGLANDAD 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 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.


10 thoughts on “Wolf's Head (The Forest Lord, #1)

  1. Terri Terri says:

    I was in the mood for this book when I came to it. Perhaps that is why I caved in and did a very rare thing. A rare thing for me that is. I accepted this self published book (and its follow on) in exchange for a review of each.
    Yes, yes, I know that some of you are now picking yourselves up off the floor. It is a surprise and I am sorry to sling it on you in such a sudden manner. Accepting copies of Self Pub and Indie books in exchange for a review is out of character for me I know (I've been harassed before and therefore swore off them). But hey, I have a weakness for the setting. What more can I say? It is a one off. So, dust yourself off, put your monocle back on and let's get down to the business of book reviews....

    Fiends of the forest, highwaymen, pirates. They lend themselves well to the pages of our fiction and the plots of our movies and tv shows. Most of us grew up with the tales of Robin Hood, in all their varied forms, like cartoon Disney foxes or dashing, debonair swordsmen swinging from chandeliers And for the young and impressionable, such as myself, it sparked a life long interest in the theme as fantasy. Fantasy of the mind, where I might live for a while, escaping the stress that was life through school, young adulthood and then adulthood. I am an adventurer in the mind, not so much in the feet.
    (I might dream of jumping out of plane, I don't actually want to go jumping out of a plane...you get my meaning? IN the mind, not in the feet.)

    I find that there really are not enough of these kinds of adventure criminal stories being written today. I can name the ones I know, that have been written in the last ten years, on two hands. And if you want to narrow that down to just Robin Hood, then I am forced to count them on one hand, with Wolf's Head being one of them, Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead another and Outlaw by Angus Donald the next. There are scant more that I can name off the top of my head. Hood to me is young adult and I do not like young adult books, so where does that leave me?? With two book choices.
    Are you seeing now why I broke my own golden rule and accepted this book in exchange for review?

    I did not think a great deal of Outlaw by Angus Donald, but I can see why some would love it. If that is the kind of story you crave (easy reading action adventure) then I would recommend Wolf's Head to you quick as a flash. They are not that dissimilar in writing style, truth be told. Which is a mix of the simplicity, naivete and inexperience so many debut writers suffer from. A little uncomplicated for my tastes, but still able to carry a story well enough and easily devoured by readers who aren't as snobbish as I am about writing techniques and wordsmithing.

    Still, I was surprised by the book when I first started reading it. I actually expected it to be really badly written and I can honestly say that while uncomplicated, it isn't badly written. That sounds a little like a mixed message, but the experienced fiction readers amoung you will know what I mean.
    Simple doesn't always mean bad. It just means the techniques are a little raw and the breadth of word use is not there. But what is there, is not messy and ill formed. I expect as the books come down the line from Steven A. McKay over time, that simplicity will be overcome by a more experienced approach to form and function.
    I think this book will continue to find its audience in the ebook market place and will continue to rate highly there too. It is a perfect light and easy read for those looking to download the diamonds in the rough on Amazon.

    Going off what I have given two stars to over the years, I find this book was better than some of those. So, three stars officially and two and a half stars on my personal scale.


  2. Clemens Schoonderwoert Clemens Schoonderwoert says:

    This very exciting book is the 1st volume of The Forest Lord series, featuring Robin Hood, from the, for me, new Scottish Indie-author, Steven A. McKay.

    Historical details concerning this book can be found and enjoyed at the end of the book, where they are very well documented, and also superbly implemented within this historical adventure.

    Story-telling from this author is of a superb quality, all characters, mostly real great historical and also some wonderful fictional, come vividly to life within this historical tale which is set in the year AD 1321, during the reign of King Edward II.

    The story begins in the year AD 1321, when Robert Hood, but commonly more known of course as Robin Hood, kills the bailiff of Wakefield in an attempt to defend his friend, Much, and by doing so he'll become an outlaw or a Wolf's Head.

    Robin Hood will join a band of Wolf's Heads which is led by Adam Bell/Gurdon, who will later on become a traitor to them all, by turning into the Sheriff's man, in an attempt to get a pardon for himself.

    Robin, Little John, Will Scaflock (Scarlet), Much, and many more outlaws will need to do everything they can to stay out of the clutches from the Sheriff's men, who are now let by Adam Gurdon/Bell, and with cunning and decisive actions they will some how survive.

    What is to follow is an action-packed and fast-paced historical adventure in which the Wolf's Head, Robin Hood, and his fellow outlaws will do everything they can, within their limits and with the help from others, to stay clear from the Sheriff of Nottingham and Yorkshire's tentacles of power, in these turbulent historical times of murder and mayhem during King Edward II's reign.

    Very much recommended, for this is a great start of a hopefully fantastic series, so I look very much forward to the next instalment, and what this book is concerned I like to call it: An Amazing Robin Hood Beginning!


  3. Blair Hodgkinson Blair Hodgkinson says:

    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.

    Addendum (April 18, 2014): I have now also listened to the Audible audiobook read by Nick Ellsworth as preparation for reading McKay's sequel, The Wolf And The Raven. Ellsworth is a fine reader and does the novel and its characters credit. Definitely worth a listen.


  4. Joey Woolfardis Joey Woolfardis says:

    I didn't finish this book. It's a re-telling of the very famous and sturdy tale of Robin Hood and his band of merry thieves and, whilst I might have been persuaded to hop on to the re-telling wagon because I love Robin Hood and anything concerning, I found the writing style far too mediocre to continue with this book.


  5. Samantha Samantha says:

    3.5 stars.

    I am no Robin Hood expert and admit to having difficulty removing the vision of a fox in green tights from my head when attempting to read a story like this. McKay's Hood is not a fox (spoiler), but he is muscle-bound, witty, friendly, and impetuous. An all around lovable guy, except for the fact that he happens to be an outlaw. But he became an outlaw defending his girl's honor, so even that makes him a good guy.

    All the characters you would expect are given this author's own special twist to create a unique Robin Hood story that is familiar but different enough to captivate the reader's interest. I especially liked the fact that this novel was set during the reign of Edward II, so there was no horrible history surrounding Bad Prince John and Good King Richard.

    Though it is an expected element of a Robin Hood story, I had difficulty getting around the idea of an honorable band of outlaws. Everyone was there because they stole food for a starving family or defended a woman against rape, but they sure turned into lethal killers when rich clergymen passed by. The negative portrayal of most men of faith in the novel, except for Friar Tuck who is only sort of a clergyman, rubbed me the wrong way, but wasn't a major issue.

    If you are looking for a light, adventurous story where the good poor people claim victory over the bad rich people, this is it. Some attempt is made to delve into the greater political friction of the era (Despensers = Bad) with chapters switching over to Thomas of Lancaster and his plans to dethrone Edward, but they were infrequent and seemed to set the stage for things to come for the most part. I have hopes that the next book will blend these two story lines together a little more seamlessly.

    Book 3 was just released a couple of weeks ago, so if you are looking for a fun jaunt into Sherwood Forest there is plenty to keep you entertained with McKay's series.


  6. Queen Terrible Timy Queen Terrible Timy says:

    Actual rating: 3.5

    Full review with some personal notes: starlitbook.com/2018/06/23/wolfs-head...

    First of all, those who haven’t heard about Robin Hood, please raise your hands! … No one? You sure? Okay, let’s move on then.

    I won’t waste your time introducing you the characters, because, let’s face it, there is no one who never heard about the outlaws who were something like folktale heroes, constantly making a fool of nobles, robbing money and food so they could stay alive, but also to give back something to the villagers. Just search for his name on Goodreads and will find a shit ton of books about him. Those who are interested in England’s history and write historical fiction/fantasy, sure as hell will end up writing a book about him. We Hungarians also have an author who published a book about him, aimed for youngsters. Which happened to be one of my favorite reads in grade school along with The Three Musketeers by Dumas and Eclipse of the Crescent Moon by Gárdonyi Géza. All historical fictions. No wonder I ended up with a history major in University. And before I go into details, I’ll be honest, I haven’t read any other Robin Hood books apart from the one mentioned, so I have no comparison. Why it never occurred to me until now to read books like this, I’ve no idea.

    The book starts with Robin, being 17, a lively young man madly in love with Matilda (the first surprise for those who are familiar with the several legends surrounding Robin Hood), living in Wakefield with his best friend Much. When the Prior of Lewes appears on the May Day celebration things quickly turn bad for our protagonist. Trying to defend Matilda, Robin ends up beating the prior and his companions, thus has to leave the village and seek refuge in the Barnsdale Forest. Not having any other choice, he decides to join another folktale hero, Adam Bell’s gang of outlaws or Wolf’s Heads – by the way we never learn why they are called that – where he finds unexpected friends and companions. Such as Will Scaflock or Will Scarlet, Little John and Friar Tuck. During the book we learn some things about the past of Will and Tuck, the former’s play an important part in the story too.

    Meanwhile, England is about to being torn into two parties. The date is 1321, and the Earl of Lancester tries to ally himself with as much noble as possible to get the attention of King Edward II, who is under the influence of the Dispensers and neglecting the needs of his subjects. Sir Richard, lord and Hospitaller also joins him after an injustice is being done to his son. He also has a brief meeting with Robin and his gang and they end up helping each other out, while the prior and the Sheriff of Nottingham try their hardest to bring Robin and the others out of the picture.

    The book focuses on Robin Hood and his adventures, which sometimes feels like different tales put together into one story. As the synopsis shows, McKay choose to put his story in Yorkshire, more accurately in Barnsdale Forest instead of the well known Sherwood forest. Which at first is strange and needs some getting used to – as well as Matilda’s name – but after a while you forget about it. And while the Sheriff of Nottingham also plays a prominent part in the story, he is not the villain per se. But then, there is not really one big villain here against whom our friends fight for. There is the prior and the sheriff of course and Lord de Bray as well. The other change – at least for those who grew up on the Robin Hood stories present in the pop culture – is that the events take place in the 1320’s, under the reign of King Edward II, instead of Richard I and his brother John we all used love to hate. On one hand this is a risky move, because most people grew up hearing those tales. On the other we can hardly blame him for putting a new twist on the old story. Besides there are several versions of Robin’s tales, so it’s up to him to choose whatever version he feels like. Actually it is kind of refreshing too. The background stories of Will and Tuck are especially interesting and put a new light on both characters. Will turned out to be my favorite character despite me not liking him at the beginning. His character came a long way during the book and showed such depths the readers wouldn’t have expected. The others felt a bit 2 dimensional – another exceptions are Friar Truck and Adam Bell – hence the lower actual rating.

    The bits about Lancester’s attempt of opposing the king although interesting, didn’t really added much to the story – except historical background, that is – , and sometimes just broke the flow. Probably, if there would be more of these scenes, then that would have given a wider insight of the state of England at the time. Like that small snippet about the Templars’ fall, which gave depth to one of the character’s background as well as a glimpse into real historical events. The balance between the two storyline is a bit off, but this and the few minor editing issues this book has can be easily corrected.

    Since I half listened to the Audiobook, let me mention what a good job Nick Ellsworth did with narrating. His voice has an interesting lilting to it, but after a while you get used to it and forget about it. He reads in a way that even non-english speakers like myself can easily understand.

    Wolf’s Head is an action packed, sometimes bloody and brutal historical fiction, which puts a twist to the famous legend of Robin Hood. As it is a first book, it’s not perfect, but a very enjoyable read nonetheless. It brought back my childhood memories, mixed it with my adult self’s love for english history and gritty elements, and pretty much blew my mind. Besides making me a dirty mouthed lunatic in the morning commute, on a tram full of people. Which means you should absolutely check it out if you are into this kind of stuff!


  7. Speesh Speesh says:

    Well, just when I was thinking I was all Robin Hooded-up, this comes along, grabs me by the Sherwoods and refuses to let go.

    From the start, it’s clear that this will be a much more traditional Robin Hood the Angus Donald’s ‘re-imagining.’ While the superb first volume of ‘The Outlaw Chronicles’ was (partly) of necessity based in and around Sherwood and England in general, Alan Dale and the increasingly peripheral as the series progressed Robin, soon returned to their French/Norman roots and embarked on a series of day trips, long weekends and several volumes of adventures, in the Holy Land, in France, France and France…anywhere but England, it seemed.

    We meet this Robin in his home town in England before he becomes an outlaw and immediately it is clear he is much more down to earth and, I feel, closer to the legend and therefore closer to our sympathies. I identified with 'Wolf' Robin immediately - despite the 700-odd years between us. He’s a worried, frightened, unsure - he is very young at the start - character, just been run out of town after his temper and sense of justice ran away with him. Never a good idea when your life is not your own in medieval England. Never a good idea at any point in history, if you live in Yorkshire (as I did for 26 years, for anyone picking up their pen right now). Robin begins as a typically well-balanced Yorkshireman, with a chip on both shoulders and joins an already existing outlaw group. Almost without trying, his natural skills with all things heavy and sharp, coupled with uncanny leadership qualities for someone so young, begin to cause problems and jealousy with the existing management and he finds himself thrust into the leadership of the band almost without wanting to.

    The story is excellently presented, there’s a good solid flow to the whole, not so neatly tied up that you think it’s too polished for its own good and not so rough, that you dismiss it. I’m still thinking about it and the possibilities now, long after I’ve finished it. The character of Robin is full of grit, interesting potential and the other characters are in no way second fiddles, well-written and clearly going to be contributing much in future stories. The whole is, as I think I’m trying to say, really pleasantly down to earth and believable. It didn’t happen like this (it’s unlikely Robin existed, if you ask me), but reading this, you will feel like it could have. If it did, it’d have been like this. There’s a reality to the story and the writing. Horrible word, but ‘organic,’ maybe Steven had the mulch of Sherwood on his fingers when he wrote the story? He’s not going to like me for this…but…this sums it up quite nicely “In touch with the ground, I’m on the hunt I’m after you, Smell like I sound, I’m lost in a crowd…And I’m hungry like the wolf” as the great Duran Duran once put it.

    There are a few rough edges. There on (for example) P65 (which should be a right-hand page) Matilda may well have kneed him playfully in the bollocks were I describing the incident to a mate in the pub. But not in a book. When it isn't part of a character's conversation or thoughts. Stuff like that needs looking at, but not much else.

    Did we need another interpretation of the Robin Hood legend? Well, if it’s this one we’re talking about, the answer is a massive ‘yes!’ For me, this was just what I needed, after Angus Donald’s stories went off the Sherwood rails. He took his stories ‘up-market’ I felt, away from Sherwood, away from England for the most part and, as they primarily concern Alan Dale, away from the Robin Hood we know and loved. Fortunately - for me - the ‘Wolf’ series, looks likely to continue having Robin Hood front and centre. Long may they continue.

    More of this sort of thing on Speesh Reads


  8. Jason Jason says:

    Wolf's Head is Steven A. McKay's first novel and the first book in the 'Forest Lord' series which starts off with Robin being a young lad living in a small village with his friends and family but that soon changes with this fast paced novel with the action almost non stop.

    The characters you will meet are very interesting, some nice and some very nasty! Steven has done his homework drawing you in with great detail of the area 'Wakefield' which is where most of this first novel takes place.

    I'm now waiting impatiently for the second instalment of Wolf's Head 'The Forest Lord series'.
    The ending brings a character which will test Robins leadership skills to the maximum!!!


  9. Chris Chris says:

    As a guy who shoots English Warbows for a hobby and a big fan of HF novels, every novel that has a connection with Robin Hood and medieval archery immediatlely sparks my interest.
    Of course Robin Hood is a character that already has truckloads of films and books on his palmares, and Robin and his crew have been (alongside King arthur and his knights) Englands most popular heroes for the last 700 years, but still, a good writer can find enough angles to the Robin Hood legend to avoid the well trodden paths and cliche's.
    Angus Donald f.i. explores the Robin Hood character from the viewpoint of the `capo'- the maffioso godfather- and does pretty well with that.
    Steven A. McKay takes a different road. His Robin Hood is firmly rooted in the oldest medieval Robin Hood sources like a gest of Robyn Hode, Robin Hood and the Monk, Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbourne and Robin Hood and the Potter. The time when Robin didn't have his patent of nobility yet and all kind of chivalric and romantic hubub that goes with that(disgraced earls son who rights the wrongs committed , romantic love interests with maid marian, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, contributing to King Richard the lionhearts ransom, and thus becoming a kings-man and lord of the forest), but simply was what he was..a yeoman and famous and cunning outlaw.
    So therefore in Steven A. McKays Robin hood we are not in sherwood but in barnsdale forest, and we are prowling the old roman roads down there. Also with he old balads with the yeoman bowman outlaw we are not stuck to the noble Richard the Lionheart -evil prince John controversy- or the first barons war follow up- and McKay takes the liberty to put the whole Robin Hood plot into a lancastrian rebellion setting, and thus out of the well trodden paths.
    Wolf's head is Mc Kays tale of Robin Hood the early years, and I must say that I have enjoyed his Robin Hood massively. It's Robin Hood back to the outlaw basics and to the roots of the legend.The archery is sound and convincing, and it's a well spun, and well dosed tale with credible characters and all of the right ingredients. All in all Steven A. McKay's Robin Hood is not fancy haute cuisine, but a very tasty and well filling local yorkshire pub dish.
    I really devoured Wolf's head to the last crumb, and looking forward to the sequel. On the extensive Robin Hood menu chart, Wolf's head is a very welcome addition.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 thoughts on “Wolf's Head (The Forest Lord, #1)

  1. Terri Terri says:

    I was in the mood for this book when I came to it. Perhaps that is why I caved in and did a very rare thing. A rare thing for me that is. I accepted this self published book (and its follow on) in exchange for a review of each.
    Yes, yes, I know that some of you are now picking yourselves up off the floor. It is a surprise and I am sorry to sling it on you in such a sudden manner. Accepting copies of Self Pub and Indie books in exchange for a review is out of character for me I know (I've been harassed before and therefore swore off them). But hey, I have a weakness for the setting. What more can I say? It is a one off. So, dust yourself off, put your monocle back on and let's get down to the business of book reviews....

    Fiends of the forest, highwaymen, pirates. They lend themselves well to the pages of our fiction and the plots of our movies and tv shows. Most of us grew up with the tales of Robin Hood, in all their varied forms, like cartoon Disney foxes or dashing, debonair swordsmen swinging from chandeliers And for the young and impressionable, such as myself, it sparked a life long interest in the theme as fantasy. Fantasy of the mind, where I might live for a while, escaping the stress that was life through school, young adulthood and then adulthood. I am an adventurer in the mind, not so much in the feet.
    (I might dream of jumping out of plane, I don't actually want to go jumping out of a plane...you get my meaning? IN the mind, not in the feet.)

    I find that there really are not enough of these kinds of adventure criminal stories being written today. I can name the ones I know, that have been written in the last ten years, on two hands. And if you want to narrow that down to just Robin Hood, then I am forced to count them on one hand, with Wolf's Head being one of them, Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead another and Outlaw by Angus Donald the next. There are scant more that I can name off the top of my head. Hood to me is young adult and I do not like young adult books, so where does that leave me?? With two book choices.
    Are you seeing now why I broke my own golden rule and accepted this book in exchange for review?

    I did not think a great deal of Outlaw by Angus Donald, but I can see why some would love it. If that is the kind of story you crave (easy reading action adventure) then I would recommend Wolf's Head to you quick as a flash. They are not that dissimilar in writing style, truth be told. Which is a mix of the simplicity, naivete and inexperience so many debut writers suffer from. A little uncomplicated for my tastes, but still able to carry a story well enough and easily devoured by readers who aren't as snobbish as I am about writing techniques and wordsmithing.

    Still, I was surprised by the book when I first started reading it. I actually expected it to be really badly written and I can honestly say that while uncomplicated, it isn't badly written. That sounds a little like a mixed message, but the experienced fiction readers amoung you will know what I mean.
    Simple doesn't always mean bad. It just means the techniques are a little raw and the breadth of word use is not there. But what is there, is not messy and ill formed. I expect as the books come down the line from Steven A. McKay over time, that simplicity will be overcome by a more experienced approach to form and function.
    I think this book will continue to find its audience in the ebook market place and will continue to rate highly there too. It is a perfect light and easy read for those looking to download the diamonds in the rough on Amazon.

    Going off what I have given two stars to over the years, I find this book was better than some of those. So, three stars officially and two and a half stars on my personal scale.

  2. Clemens Schoonderwoert Clemens Schoonderwoert says:

    This very exciting book is the 1st volume of The Forest Lord series, featuring Robin Hood, from the, for me, new Scottish Indie-author, Steven A. McKay.

    Historical details concerning this book can be found and enjoyed at the end of the book, where they are very well documented, and also superbly implemented within this historical adventure.

    Story-telling from this author is of a superb quality, all characters, mostly real great historical and also some wonderful fictional, come vividly to life within this historical tale which is set in the year AD 1321, during the reign of King Edward II.

    The story begins in the year AD 1321, when Robert Hood, but commonly more known of course as Robin Hood, kills the bailiff of Wakefield in an attempt to defend his friend, Much, and by doing so he'll become an outlaw or a Wolf's Head.

    Robin Hood will join a band of Wolf's Heads which is led by Adam Bell/Gurdon, who will later on become a traitor to them all, by turning into the Sheriff's man, in an attempt to get a pardon for himself.

    Robin, Little John, Will Scaflock (Scarlet), Much, and many more outlaws will need to do everything they can to stay out of the clutches from the Sheriff's men, who are now let by Adam Gurdon/Bell, and with cunning and decisive actions they will some how survive.

    What is to follow is an action-packed and fast-paced historical adventure in which the Wolf's Head, Robin Hood, and his fellow outlaws will do everything they can, within their limits and with the help from others, to stay clear from the Sheriff of Nottingham and Yorkshire's tentacles of power, in these turbulent historical times of murder and mayhem during King Edward II's reign.

    Very much recommended, for this is a great start of a hopefully fantastic series, so I look very much forward to the next instalment, and what this book is concerned I like to call it: An Amazing Robin Hood Beginning!

  3. Blair Hodgkinson Blair Hodgkinson says:

    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.

    Addendum (April 18, 2014): I have now also listened to the Audible audiobook read by Nick Ellsworth as preparation for reading McKay's sequel, The Wolf And The Raven. Ellsworth is a fine reader and does the novel and its characters credit. Definitely worth a listen.

  4. Joey Woolfardis Joey Woolfardis says:

    I didn't finish this book. It's a re-telling of the very famous and sturdy tale of Robin Hood and his band of merry thieves and, whilst I might have been persuaded to hop on to the re-telling wagon because I love Robin Hood and anything concerning, I found the writing style far too mediocre to continue with this book.

  5. Samantha Samantha says:

    3.5 stars.

    I am no Robin Hood expert and admit to having difficulty removing the vision of a fox in green tights from my head when attempting to read a story like this. McKay's Hood is not a fox (spoiler), but he is muscle-bound, witty, friendly, and impetuous. An all around lovable guy, except for the fact that he happens to be an outlaw. But he became an outlaw defending his girl's honor, so even that makes him a good guy.

    All the characters you would expect are given this author's own special twist to create a unique Robin Hood story that is familiar but different enough to captivate the reader's interest. I especially liked the fact that this novel was set during the reign of Edward II, so there was no horrible history surrounding Bad Prince John and Good King Richard.

    Though it is an expected element of a Robin Hood story, I had difficulty getting around the idea of an honorable band of outlaws. Everyone was there because they stole food for a starving family or defended a woman against rape, but they sure turned into lethal killers when rich clergymen passed by. The negative portrayal of most men of faith in the novel, except for Friar Tuck who is only sort of a clergyman, rubbed me the wrong way, but wasn't a major issue.

    If you are looking for a light, adventurous story where the good poor people claim victory over the bad rich people, this is it. Some attempt is made to delve into the greater political friction of the era (Despensers = Bad) with chapters switching over to Thomas of Lancaster and his plans to dethrone Edward, but they were infrequent and seemed to set the stage for things to come for the most part. I have hopes that the next book will blend these two story lines together a little more seamlessly.

    Book 3 was just released a couple of weeks ago, so if you are looking for a fun jaunt into Sherwood Forest there is plenty to keep you entertained with McKay's series.

  6. Queen Terrible Timy Queen Terrible Timy says:

    Actual rating: 3.5

    Full review with some personal notes: starlitbook.com/2018/06/23/wolfs-head...

    First of all, those who haven’t heard about Robin Hood, please raise your hands! … No one? You sure? Okay, let’s move on then.

    I won’t waste your time introducing you the characters, because, let’s face it, there is no one who never heard about the outlaws who were something like folktale heroes, constantly making a fool of nobles, robbing money and food so they could stay alive, but also to give back something to the villagers. Just search for his name on Goodreads and will find a shit ton of books about him. Those who are interested in England’s history and write historical fiction/fantasy, sure as hell will end up writing a book about him. We Hungarians also have an author who published a book about him, aimed for youngsters. Which happened to be one of my favorite reads in grade school along with The Three Musketeers by Dumas and Eclipse of the Crescent Moon by Gárdonyi Géza. All historical fictions. No wonder I ended up with a history major in University. And before I go into details, I’ll be honest, I haven’t read any other Robin Hood books apart from the one mentioned, so I have no comparison. Why it never occurred to me until now to read books like this, I’ve no idea.

    The book starts with Robin, being 17, a lively young man madly in love with Matilda (the first surprise for those who are familiar with the several legends surrounding Robin Hood), living in Wakefield with his best friend Much. When the Prior of Lewes appears on the May Day celebration things quickly turn bad for our protagonist. Trying to defend Matilda, Robin ends up beating the prior and his companions, thus has to leave the village and seek refuge in the Barnsdale Forest. Not having any other choice, he decides to join another folktale hero, Adam Bell’s gang of outlaws or Wolf’s Heads – by the way we never learn why they are called that – where he finds unexpected friends and companions. Such as Will Scaflock or Will Scarlet, Little John and Friar Tuck. During the book we learn some things about the past of Will and Tuck, the former’s play an important part in the story too.

    Meanwhile, England is about to being torn into two parties. The date is 1321, and the Earl of Lancester tries to ally himself with as much noble as possible to get the attention of King Edward II, who is under the influence of the Dispensers and neglecting the needs of his subjects. Sir Richard, lord and Hospitaller also joins him after an injustice is being done to his son. He also has a brief meeting with Robin and his gang and they end up helping each other out, while the prior and the Sheriff of Nottingham try their hardest to bring Robin and the others out of the picture.

    The book focuses on Robin Hood and his adventures, which sometimes feels like different tales put together into one story. As the synopsis shows, McKay choose to put his story in Yorkshire, more accurately in Barnsdale Forest instead of the well known Sherwood forest. Which at first is strange and needs some getting used to – as well as Matilda’s name – but after a while you forget about it. And while the Sheriff of Nottingham also plays a prominent part in the story, he is not the villain per se. But then, there is not really one big villain here against whom our friends fight for. There is the prior and the sheriff of course and Lord de Bray as well. The other change – at least for those who grew up on the Robin Hood stories present in the pop culture – is that the events take place in the 1320’s, under the reign of King Edward II, instead of Richard I and his brother John we all used love to hate. On one hand this is a risky move, because most people grew up hearing those tales. On the other we can hardly blame him for putting a new twist on the old story. Besides there are several versions of Robin’s tales, so it’s up to him to choose whatever version he feels like. Actually it is kind of refreshing too. The background stories of Will and Tuck are especially interesting and put a new light on both characters. Will turned out to be my favorite character despite me not liking him at the beginning. His character came a long way during the book and showed such depths the readers wouldn’t have expected. The others felt a bit 2 dimensional – another exceptions are Friar Truck and Adam Bell – hence the lower actual rating.

    The bits about Lancester’s attempt of opposing the king although interesting, didn’t really added much to the story – except historical background, that is – , and sometimes just broke the flow. Probably, if there would be more of these scenes, then that would have given a wider insight of the state of England at the time. Like that small snippet about the Templars’ fall, which gave depth to one of the character’s background as well as a glimpse into real historical events. The balance between the two storyline is a bit off, but this and the few minor editing issues this book has can be easily corrected.

    Since I half listened to the Audiobook, let me mention what a good job Nick Ellsworth did with narrating. His voice has an interesting lilting to it, but after a while you get used to it and forget about it. He reads in a way that even non-english speakers like myself can easily understand.

    Wolf’s Head is an action packed, sometimes bloody and brutal historical fiction, which puts a twist to the famous legend of Robin Hood. As it is a first book, it’s not perfect, but a very enjoyable read nonetheless. It brought back my childhood memories, mixed it with my adult self’s love for english history and gritty elements, and pretty much blew my mind. Besides making me a dirty mouthed lunatic in the morning commute, on a tram full of people. Which means you should absolutely check it out if you are into this kind of stuff!

  7. Speesh Speesh says:

    Well, just when I was thinking I was all Robin Hooded-up, this comes along, grabs me by the Sherwoods and refuses to let go.

    From the start, it’s clear that this will be a much more traditional Robin Hood the Angus Donald’s ‘re-imagining.’ While the superb first volume of ‘The Outlaw Chronicles’ was (partly) of necessity based in and around Sherwood and England in general, Alan Dale and the increasingly peripheral as the series progressed Robin, soon returned to their French/Norman roots and embarked on a series of day trips, long weekends and several volumes of adventures, in the Holy Land, in France, France and France…anywhere but England, it seemed.

    We meet this Robin in his home town in England before he becomes an outlaw and immediately it is clear he is much more down to earth and, I feel, closer to the legend and therefore closer to our sympathies. I identified with 'Wolf' Robin immediately - despite the 700-odd years between us. He’s a worried, frightened, unsure - he is very young at the start - character, just been run out of town after his temper and sense of justice ran away with him. Never a good idea when your life is not your own in medieval England. Never a good idea at any point in history, if you live in Yorkshire (as I did for 26 years, for anyone picking up their pen right now). Robin begins as a typically well-balanced Yorkshireman, with a chip on both shoulders and joins an already existing outlaw group. Almost without trying, his natural skills with all things heavy and sharp, coupled with uncanny leadership qualities for someone so young, begin to cause problems and jealousy with the existing management and he finds himself thrust into the leadership of the band almost without wanting to.

    The story is excellently presented, there’s a good solid flow to the whole, not so neatly tied up that you think it’s too polished for its own good and not so rough, that you dismiss it. I’m still thinking about it and the possibilities now, long after I’ve finished it. The character of Robin is full of grit, interesting potential and the other characters are in no way second fiddles, well-written and clearly going to be contributing much in future stories. The whole is, as I think I’m trying to say, really pleasantly down to earth and believable. It didn’t happen like this (it’s unlikely Robin existed, if you ask me), but reading this, you will feel like it could have. If it did, it’d have been like this. There’s a reality to the story and the writing. Horrible word, but ‘organic,’ maybe Steven had the mulch of Sherwood on his fingers when he wrote the story? He’s not going to like me for this…but…this sums it up quite nicely “In touch with the ground, I’m on the hunt I’m after you, Smell like I sound, I’m lost in a crowd…And I’m hungry like the wolf” as the great Duran Duran once put it.

    There are a few rough edges. There on (for example) P65 (which should be a right-hand page) Matilda may well have kneed him playfully in the bollocks were I describing the incident to a mate in the pub. But not in a book. When it isn't part of a character's conversation or thoughts. Stuff like that needs looking at, but not much else.

    Did we need another interpretation of the Robin Hood legend? Well, if it’s this one we’re talking about, the answer is a massive ‘yes!’ For me, this was just what I needed, after Angus Donald’s stories went off the Sherwood rails. He took his stories ‘up-market’ I felt, away from Sherwood, away from England for the most part and, as they primarily concern Alan Dale, away from the Robin Hood we know and loved. Fortunately - for me - the ‘Wolf’ series, looks likely to continue having Robin Hood front and centre. Long may they continue.

    More of this sort of thing on Speesh Reads

  8. Jason Jason says:

    Wolf's Head is Steven A. McKay's first novel and the first book in the 'Forest Lord' series which starts off with Robin being a young lad living in a small village with his friends and family but that soon changes with this fast paced novel with the action almost non stop.

    The characters you will meet are very interesting, some nice and some very nasty! Steven has done his homework drawing you in with great detail of the area 'Wakefield' which is where most of this first novel takes place.

    I'm now waiting impatiently for the second instalment of Wolf's Head 'The Forest Lord series'.
    The ending brings a character which will test Robins leadership skills to the maximum!!!

  9. Chris Chris says:

    As a guy who shoots English Warbows for a hobby and a big fan of HF novels, every novel that has a connection with Robin Hood and medieval archery immediatlely sparks my interest.
    Of course Robin Hood is a character that already has truckloads of films and books on his palmares, and Robin and his crew have been (alongside King arthur and his knights) Englands most popular heroes for the last 700 years, but still, a good writer can find enough angles to the Robin Hood legend to avoid the well trodden paths and cliche's.
    Angus Donald f.i. explores the Robin Hood character from the viewpoint of the `capo'- the maffioso godfather- and does pretty well with that.
    Steven A. McKay takes a different road. His Robin Hood is firmly rooted in the oldest medieval Robin Hood sources like a gest of Robyn Hode, Robin Hood and the Monk, Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbourne and Robin Hood and the Potter. The time when Robin didn't have his patent of nobility yet and all kind of chivalric and romantic hubub that goes with that(disgraced earls son who rights the wrongs committed , romantic love interests with maid marian, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, contributing to King Richard the lionhearts ransom, and thus becoming a kings-man and lord of the forest), but simply was what he was..a yeoman and famous and cunning outlaw.
    So therefore in Steven A. McKays Robin hood we are not in sherwood but in barnsdale forest, and we are prowling the old roman roads down there. Also with he old balads with the yeoman bowman outlaw we are not stuck to the noble Richard the Lionheart -evil prince John controversy- or the first barons war follow up- and McKay takes the liberty to put the whole Robin Hood plot into a lancastrian rebellion setting, and thus out of the well trodden paths.
    Wolf's head is Mc Kays tale of Robin Hood the early years, and I must say that I have enjoyed his Robin Hood massively. It's Robin Hood back to the outlaw basics and to the roots of the legend.The archery is sound and convincing, and it's a well spun, and well dosed tale with credible characters and all of the right ingredients. All in all Steven A. McKay's Robin Hood is not fancy haute cuisine, but a very tasty and well filling local yorkshire pub dish.
    I really devoured Wolf's head to the last crumb, and looking forward to the sequel. On the extensive Robin Hood menu chart, Wolf's head is a very welcome addition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *