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Literature / The Outlaw Chronicles

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"Meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest."
Tagline of Outlaw

A Historical Fiction re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend by Angus Donald, narrated by Alan A'Dayle, rendered as Alan Dale.

So far 4 books have been published

  • Outlaw (2009)
  • Holy Warrior (2010)
  • Kings Man (2011)
  • Warlord (2012)

Robin in this version is named Robert Odo and is the youngest son of a Norman baron. He was outlawed after horribly torturing and killing the abusive priest who was his tutor. He forms a base of support not unlike that of a modern Mafia Don. As the series begins he has long established his power base in Sherwood Forest and his influence stretches over Nottingham and the surrounding villages. Despite this, he romances Marie-Anne, Countess of Locksley.


In Outlaw, Alan is a 13-year-old thief who lives near Nottingham in 1188, and is caught by the Sheriff, Ralph Murdac, who was responsible for the hanging of Alan's father, the second son of a minor French knight and a former wandering trouvère (troubadour), falsely accused of thievery himself. When Alan is caught in the act he escapes and is taken by his mother to Robin to seek his protection, to whom he swears an oath of service until death. He is trained in the arts of war by various mentors. He also reveals his talent at music and is trained to be a trouvère like his father. When Marie-Anne is held captive by Murdac, Alan helps Robin rescue her. Alan also fights alongside Robin when Murdac forms an army to destroy him. In the ensuing battle Murdac is narrowly defeated, and he flees to Prince John. Robin negotiates a pardon from King Richard in return for going on Crusade, and marries Marie-Anne, becoming the Earl of Locksley.


In Holy Warrior Alan follows Robin as part of King Richard's army on the Third Crusade. Robin being Robin, he has an ulterior motive: to get a cut of the Middle East trade. Before leaving England, Robin and Alan make powerful enemies which will hound them in the Holy Land when they try to protect Robin's Jewish merchant contacts from anti-Semitic rioting. Robin is also shadowed by the continuing effect of Murdac's schemes and actions from the last book.

In King's Man, Alan is dispatched to Germany to find and rescue King Richard who has been taken captive, while Robin helps thwart Prince John's efforts to keep Richard away from England and take power himself, and settles old scores with Murdac.

In Warlord, Alan marches with King Richard's army to reclaim his domains from King Philip of France, while simultaneously connecting with his father's family and discovering just who the 'Man You Cannot Refuse', the man who had Alan's father murdered.



  • Action Girl: Goody (Godifa), who kills a maddened wolf and a cannibal with Alan's poniard.
  • Action Girlfriend: Goody again
  • Adaptational Wimp: The mythical Guy of Gisborne was a contemporary and rival to Robin Hood, if not exactly an equal. This interpretation of Guy is a child to Robin's adult, and the one time they do meet, when Guy has been captured and faces execution, the former cowers in the dirt before the latter.
  • Anyone Can Die: Don't get too attached to, well, anyone. Even Alan dies at the very end of the final book, though at least he gets to die of old age.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Not exclusively, but most of the villains are drawn from the aristocracy: Murdac, Malbete, and Prince John.
  • Badass Jew: Reuben. Very much so. Throws knives so hard they go an inch into solid wood, and wields a scimitar with devastating skill.
  • Bad Luck Charm: Freya's ruby in Outlaw. Robin himself says he "feels in my bones it is not a lucky jewel", and every character who find themselves in possession of it experiences misfortune quickly after (Freya is slaughtered by Murdac's men, Guy is banished from his family thanks to a trap Alan lays using the gem, Marie-Anne is kidnapped by Murdac's men shortly after taking possession of it, and Murdac himself wears it in the final battle at Linden Lea where he is defeated).
  • Badass Preacher: Friar Tuck, who both prays and fights. Brigid to an extent, since she is a pagan Priestess, and can more than look after herself.
  • Benevolent Boss: Robin. If you're part of his 'familia', that is. Unless you cross him, that is.
    • King Richard also qualifies, if only because he's fond of Alan.
  • Big Bad: Murdac for the first book, later Prince John while Richard's away, and then the overarching villain, the Man You Cannot Refuse.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Alan occasionally sees things like this, particularly at the end of The Iron Castle when after killing a man who sold out the castle for food and let one of Alan's men take the fall, he considers honour restored and he proposes marriage to the man's pretty but inconstant daughter. He is somewhat befuddled when she doesn't take it well. He grows out of it... somewhat.
  • Blood Knight: William the Marshal, who is often eager to get into the heart of battle, to the point where Richard, a Boisterous Bruiser himself, grumbles about it.
    • Little John loves a good fight as well - before many a battle Alan observes that while he himself is crap-your-pants scared, John all but giddy with anticipation of what is to come.
  • Brave Scot: Robert de Brus, Robin's master of horse in Holy Warrior. He's at first presented as purely The Stoic, but after training abd befriending Alan he reveals his past to him.
  • The Big Guy: Little John, who's absolutely enormous, even compared to the tall and well-built Robin.
  • The Bully: What Guy starts out as. After leaving home and entering the employ of Sir Ralph Murdac, he becomes a Sociopathic Soldier.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Little John, who's huge and enjoys a good fight.
  • The Captain: Alan becomes this, as one of Robin's senior commanders.
  • Create Your Own Villain: As part of Robin's band, Alan frames a boy for theft which leads to his expulsion. This boy, whose only crime was being a Jerkass, grows up to be Guy of Gisborne.
    • Sir John Peveril's son, spared by Robin, looked after his father, then, when he grew up, sought revenge. He became Alan's servant and sought to kill Robin in Holy Warrior. He believed that Alan, who was furious with Robin at the time, would help him. Unfortunately, he didn't count on Alan's Undying Loyalty, and Alan killed him.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Robin. Repeatedly - though YMMV on whether it's 'Cool' or 'Cruel'. It is generally fairly creative, however.
  • Compelling Voice: The Man You Cannot Refuse seems to have this, though its Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane. It doesn't affect Robin in the slightest.
  • Darker and Edgier: As an adaptation of the Robin Hood legend, it's arguably the darkest. Depictions of Robin Hood tend to be either straight up heroic (and perhaps a little silly, but no more), or anti-heroic at worst. Here, the tagline for the first book - "Meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest" - sets the tone for the rest of the series, with Robin being a sociopath with a very limited circle of people he actually cares about, full of downright terrifying ambition and an almost limitless capacity for vicious revenge.
  • The Don: Robin, in the first book, with elements remaining afterwards - there's a reason that the tagline is "meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest."
  • Doomed Home Town: Alan's is destroyed by Murdac's men.
  • The Dreaded: Robin as an Outlaw, and the thought of his vengeance in later books. This is for very good reason.
  • Driven to Villainy: Nur. Being mutilated, probably raped, and then rejected by your admittedly delirious boyfriend didn't do her sanity much good, and she wasn't left with too many options thereafter.
  • Establishing Character Moment: in Outlaw it quickly becomes very clear what kind of man Robin is when he and Alan meet and Robin has a traitor's tongue cut out.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Inverted, as it's the Big Good King Richard who turns out to have a decidedly "nasty" sense of humor, as Robin puts it (and this is Robin, which tells you something). When the emperor of Cyprus surrenders to Richard, he does it on the condition that he not be bound in iron chains; Richard's response is to forge some silver chairs and bind him in those instead.
  • Expy: Hugh is basically medieval Fredo Corleone. Even putting it in spoilers can't conceal how easy it is to figure out.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Alan in King's Man temporarily, to plant Alan as a spy in Prince John's household.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Sir John Peveril. Robin cuts off all his limbs minus his left arm.
  • Famed in Story: Robin. Unsurprising, since Alan is the narrator and the one who writes the songs. He also occasionally complains about how inaccurate everyone else's are.
  • Foregone Conclusion: We know for sure that Alan only has one child and his wife predeceases him, giving a chilling edge to Nur's curse. In the end, it turns out that she actually undid the curse after performing a Heel–Face Turn and forgiving Alan, but Goody died anyway in a tragic accident. Whether this was the result of Nur's curse sticking even after she tried to undo it, or simple bad luck, is unclear.
    • On a more historical note, we know that Richard is going to die and that the French lands of the Angevin Empire will fall.
  • French Jerk: Sir Ralph Murdac is French and has a sneering, Aristocrats Are Evil personality.
  • Genius Bruiser: Alan. He's an exceptionally skilled swordsman and a highly talented musician, managing to use his talents at the latter to squeeze money out of King Richard, becoming the likely apocryphal singer, Blondel.
    • Richard himself is better at both, with Alan remarking that while his parts of their duet took hours to compose, Richard came up with his on the spot.
  • Gentle Giant: John, to an extent, especially with children. Just don't piss him off, because he can and will kill you with his bare hands.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: In Holy Warrior, Sir Richard Malběte is responsible for enflaming racial tensions against the Jews of Nottingham, but he's not an antisemite, he's just a right bastard who hates everyone and never misses an opportunity to stir up trouble.
  • Hate Sink: Sheriff Ralph Murdac and Guy of Gisborne are both thoroughly reprehensible human beings without any trace of goodness in them. Not surprisingly, they get along well.
    • Sir Richard Malběte serves this role throughout most of Holy Warrior.
  • Heroic BSoD: Alan, following Goody's death, noting how he wandered around in a daze for weeks.
  • Hope Spot: after two whole books of Nur's curse hanging over them, Nur's Heel–Face Turn and Alan's actions seem to have saved Goody and their son is happy and healthy. Then, at the end of Grail Knight, Goody's killed when she trips and Alan's startled warhorse kicks out as he's trained to and crushes her skull.
  • Human Sacrifice: Brigid and her pagan followers are fans of this. A hapless deserter of Robin's band named Piers is offered up by Robin to the priestess.
  • I Gave My Word: Alan. If he gives his word, he'll stick to it, no matter what it costs him. This is probably why Robin trusts him.
    • Robin.
  • Kick the Dog: A literal one, Malbête kills Alan's dog Keelie.
    • Also when Malbête shoots Alan and steals the enemy standard off him.
    • And when Malbête mutilates Nur. Basically everything Malbete does.
  • Last-Second Chance: Alan offers Guy one in their final battle, declaring that he is satisfied after his Curb-Stomp Battle and does not wish to take Guy's life. The moment he turns his back, Guy charges him in a dishonorable, screaming rage, forcing Alan to finish him.
  • Little Miss Badass: Goody in Outlaw. At the age of 10/11, out in a bitterly cold winter after having seen her parents killed by Murdac's men and her home burnt down, she dispatches first a cannibalistic mad man and then a wolf with Alan's poniard (a foot long knife/short sword).
  • Manly Gay: Little John. He's gay, and he's also capable of killing grown men with his bare hands.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Nur and Brigid's respective powers - the former may have a more genuine basis, considering that her curse does technically come true, while the latter's are explicitly shown/admitted to be partially showmanship (though whatever else she is, it's also noted that Brigid is an exceptionally competent healer).
    • The Man You Cannot Refuse, Trois Pouces, has a strange effect on Alan and others.
  • The Mentor: Both Robin and Sir Richard at Lea serve as this to Alan in the first two books. Then Robin winds up killing Sir Richard after the latter gets in his way.
  • The Mole: Robin's brother Hugh misleads Robin about the size of Murdac's army, nearly causing his defeat.
  • Nice Guy: Alan, most of the time, being the most consistently kind and moral of Robin's associates.
    • Sir Richard at Lea, a Templar Knight (but not a Knight Templar), is similarly kind and moral, and serves as a mentor to Alan of the more classical kind, rather than Robin's Sensei for Scoundrels style. Robin murdering Sir Richard for getting in his way, right in front of Alan, nearly breaks the latter.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Most of the rank-and-file members of Robin's bands aren't exactly what you'd call honorable. They're kept in line through fear and force more than loyalty to their boss.
  • No-Sell: The Man You Cannot Refuse has a strange Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane effect on people, via his Compelling Voice, one that shakes even Alan. Robin doesn't even notice it.
  • Pedophile Priest: One shows up in Robin's backstory, and while his eventual demise at Robin's hands is pretty gruesome, he REALLY had it coming. Another one is the Knight Templar who teaches Alan's son Robert how to fight; the only reason Alan doesn't chop him into bloody pieces is that somebody else gets the bastard first.
  • Pet the Dog: Robin's treatment of Alan - he puts up with a great deal more from Alan than he does from practically anyone else. As noted under Undying Loyalty, this is probably because he knows that Alan, for all that he voices doubts (and sometimes even cusses Robin out in public), is utterly loyal to Robin and exceptionally competent at what he does. Even beyond that, though, he's kinder and gentler to Alan than he is to more or less anyone else.
  • Properly Paranoid: Robin - he expects betrayal from more or less everyone, with only a few exceptions (Hugh, Marian, Little John, and Alan), and is generally proved to be right.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Prince John, as per most of his characterizations.
  • Public Domain Character: Most of them. Alan himself takes the role of Alan Dale and the probably apocryphal minstrel Blondel.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: At the end of King's Man: "You! Killed! My! Kitten!"
  • Revenge: Robin does this a lot. Alan's father is hanged on Murdac's orders. Alan captures Murdac and has him hanged.
  • Reverse Mole: Alan, in John's court.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Little John snaps Hugh's neck and cuts out his tongue as punishment for his betrayal, since Robin has sworn he will not harm Hugh himself.
    • Played with in the case of Piers, who left Robin's band because he wanted to turn his life around. Unfortunately, he was too stupid to understand Ralph Murdac was much worse than Robin, and when he inevitably falls back into Robin's hands, he's given a worse fate than the typical Robin deserter (though Brigid would disagree).
  • The Rival: Murdac to Robin and Guy of Gisborne to Alan. Both Murdac and Guy are disposed of.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Robin unleashes one against the Peverils.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: Robin to Alan, helping him master his more criminal skills.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: After about a dozen battles and close calls too many Alan himself has a nervous breakdown at one point and takes to drinking heavily in order to cope with it. When Robin pays Alan a visit he tells him that he's known other knights who suffered similarly in the past.
  • Ship Tease: By the beginning of Holy Warrior it is quite obvious that Alan and Goody are going to get together at some point.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the first book, to The Godfather Part II when Robin confronts his treacherous brother Hugh, he says "I know it was you" just like Michael to Fredo.
    • Outlaw has a one-handed storyteller named Wygga who tells tales of King Arthur. This is a reference to The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell (see below).
  • Sincerest Form of Flattery: Angus Donald was inspired by Bernard Cornwell, author of action-oriented Historical Fiction like The Warlord Chronicles and the Sharpe series. Outlaw was even sold with the offer "as good as Bernard Cornwell or your money back" (the publisher's idea, not the author's).
  • Smug Snake: Murdac, Prince John and Guy of Gisborne. None of them are half as competent at scheming as they think they are.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Alan accidentally feels up Goody when he stumbles in Kings Man. She does not take either it or his protestations that it was an accident at all well.
  • The Sociopath: Robin again. If you're outside his circle, you might as well not exist. If you're outside his circle and upset him, you will wish that you did not exist.
    • This is a constant source of conflict between Alan and Robin, as Alan is, by and large, a Nice Guy and a good Christian. Robin is very much neither. This conflict sparks Alan's temporary Face–Heel Turn.
  • Title Drop: Regularly and obviously in the first two books, and with greater emphasis in King's Man, when Alan vows to himself that he will serve Richard for all his life, declaring himself: "A king's man".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Piers in Outlaw for abandoning Robin's band and then letting himself be captured, and then Dickon in Holy Warrior for stealing the now-elderly Alan's livestock for years and then gloating about it to a bar full of witnesses.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: A running theme, particularly in King's Man, is that Alan worries that he's slowly turning into Robin, with this as part of the process.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Robin in later novels ever-so-slightly mellows out.
  • Turncoat: Piers and Guy of Gisborne both defect from Robin's band to the forces of Sir Ralph Murdac, and both are Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves.
  • Undying Loyalty: Alan to Robin and King Richard, to the point where it's arguably his defining trait. It is genuinely undying in both cases, even surviving Robin's murder of Sir Richard at Lea. The fact that Robin knows this, the fact he likes Alan and Alan's undeniable skills as a musician and a warrior are probably why Robin takes some of the crap that he does from Alan.
    • More than one character has underestimated Alan's capacity for this.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Robin, of all people, has this view - he'll avenge any wrong done to him publicly for the sake of his fearsome reputation but views private revenge as a silly waste of time and resources, and has no illusions as to its therapeutic benefits; in his own words vengeance "cannot make you whole."
  • Villain Protagonist: Robin, to an extent - a ruthless medieval version of The Don, very few of his acts are particularly heroic, and when they are, they're almost invariably related to his own self-interest (though he does protect his own).
  • Warts and All: King Richard proves worthy of his legendary reputation and at first is a fun Boisterous Bruiser, but as the narrative of Holy Warrior goes on he gradually alienates all his eyes with his hard-charging personality.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Alan, to start with, though this trait fades with time.


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