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Literature / Hawksmaid

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Hawksmaid is a 2010 Young Adult novel by Kathryn Lasky. It revolves the adventures a teenaged Maid Marian and her involvement with the young Robin Hood.

Before she was Maid Marian, she was Matty. . . .

Matty has been raised to dance well, embroider exquisitely, and marry nobly. But when Matty's mother is murdered before her very eyes and her father, a nobleman, is reduced to poverty, Matty's life changes.

As the daughter of Nottingham's most famous falconer, she finds a new destiny in the hawks her father keeps. She begins to understand their thoughts and even speak their language. The beautiful merlin Marigold becomes Matty's closest winged companion and her fiercest ally.

It is a treacherous time in England. The sheriff of Nottingham is rising to power, and a true king has been kidnapped. Determined to fight, Matty's friend Fynn becomes Robin Hood. As Maid Marian, Matty joins Fynn and his Merry Men, famously robbing from the rich to give to the poor.

Hawksmaid contains examples of:

  • Bad Habits: When the Merry Men infiltrate the leprosorium, Little John disguises himself as a priest.
  • Caught in a Snare: Matty is trapped when she is lured over a pit trap that leaves her tangled in a net.
  • Eye Scream: Matty's merlin Marigold attacks the Abbess and rips her eyes out.
  • From Dress to Dressing: When Matty finds the injured merlin Marigold, she tears up her underskirt and uses the strips to bind up the falcon.
  • Girls with Moustaches: When Matty poses as a boy, she sticks strands of her own hair to her upper lip to create the illusion of the wispy moustache of a teenage boy.
  • Historical Domain Character: The story includes the usual suspects for a Robin Hood story: Prince John and King Richard. However, it also includes William Longchamp, the Bishop of Ely, who was a vital player during John's regency, but is seldom included in the Robin Hood tales.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: When Matty is choosing an alias to go undercover in Nottingham Castle as a servant, she sees the green leaf tucked into the brim of Robin's cap, and christens herself Marian Greenleaf.
  • Low Fantasy: The only fantasy elements in the novel are Matty's supernatural affinity for raptors, and some vague hints that the Abbess may have some sort of magical powers.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: The novel contains multiple references to potatoes; a vegetable completely unknown in 12th century England.
  • Pit Trap: Matty is lured over a pit trap that drops her on to a limed net, which holds her fast.
  • Poison Ring: The Abbess uses a poisoner's ring to poison the Bishop of Ely's dessert. Matty and Friar Tuck conspire to prevent him from eating it.
  • Sinister Minister: One of the major villains is the Abbess, who is the Sheriff's sister and Prince John's mistress. She conspires to help John take over the kingdom while Richard is held prisoner, and captures Matty and tortures her in an attempt to discover the location of the rubies.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Matty can communicate with falcons. This starts as an instinctual understanding of their thoughts and feelings, but gradually progresses to the point where can understand their speech and talk back to them.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: When Matty joins Robin and the gang on their outlaw raids, she disguises herself as a teenage boy.
  • Symbiotic Possession: When Matty is hovering near death, she discovers that she can transfer her soul into one of her falcons. She shares the body with the falcon in a symbiotic relationship, and learns that she can shift her soul between any of her falcons.
  • Token Adult: Friar Tuck is the token adult in Robin Hood's otherwise teenaged outlaw band.