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HONOUR AMONG THIEVES
ROBERT DEYVILLE AND ROBIN HOOD
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DEDICATION AND THANKS
Honour Among Thieves
A Historical Short Story
by Andrew Knighton
Copyright © Andrew Knighton 2016
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HONOUR AMONG THIEVES
The tension of the bowstring matched that in Hob’s body as he drew back his arrow and stepped from behind an oak. Horses whinnied, reined in by the merchant and his chainmail clad bodyguards on the woodland path. All three men reached for their swords, though their sneers told Hob how little they feared his short hunting bow. This far from any town, the woods were normally filled with the sound of birds and animals, but in that moment they fell silent.
“Do you know who I am, you ignorant peasant?” The merchant’s eyes glittered in the shadow of his silk hat.
“You’re Harold of Wickham,” Hob replied, fighting to keep his voice steady. It wasn’t just fear that he trembled with; there was exhilaration too, the thrill of this first act of defiance, and of knowing what was coming. “You sent men to the Despensers to fight against my lord of Lancaster.”
The guards nudged their horses forwards. Each man wore a blue tabard over his armour and carried a sword and shield. Their helmets were plain but strong looking, their expressions hard as stone.
“You’re one of Lancaster’s thugs?” Harold said. “I heard some of you had turned to thieving. Hardly surprising.”
“Not thieving,” Hob said, his voice growing stronger. “Justice. Making the likes of you pay.”
“The likes of me?” Harold pointed to the heavily loaded pack mules trailing behind him. “I’m just an honest merchant.”
“Honest as Satan,” observed Robert Deyville as he emerged from the woods to the left, sword in hand. With his blond hair and handsome features, he was as striking a sight as the merchant and his guards.
The spring leaves rustled and three more men with bows stood beside Robert, while others appeared behind the mules. Some were young men like Hob, gripping their weapons tightly with excitement. Others were grizzled veterans of many years hard living. They were dressed in the hoods and tunics of ordinary country men, their colours russet, grey and brown, and a few had scraps of armour on their chests or arms.
Left-Hand Tom winked with his one good eye at Hob. The oldest man there, he seemed the youngest at heart, a reassuring reminder that life didn’t have to crush you beneath the wheel.
Hob grinned at the merchant. “I may be a peasant, but I’m not ignorant enough to rob you on my own.”
“Deyville,” Harold said, his hand sliding from his sword toward the embroidered bridle of his horse. All of his attention had turned to Robert, Hob and his bow all but ignored. “Didn’t you learn from your brother’s example?”
“I did learn something, seeing Jocelin on the scaffold.” Robert strode forward and took the bridle. “I learnt that there’s no justice we don’t earn for ourselves.”
His voice went so low, his expression so intense, that Hob felt sure there would be violence. But then Robert shook his head and grinned.
“It’s too late to run, Harold,” he said. “Now get off the horse – me and mine will be the ones riding home today. And pass me your hat while you’re at it – I’ve been missing the fancy life.”
Hob laughed along with the rest of the outlaws, Sherwood Forest filling with their merriment. Off in the trees, a flock of birds took flight.
The campfires in Sherwood smelled particularly fine to Hob. The wood here burned a little sweeter than it did back home. The smoke was gentler, the company better, the whole camp ringing with the laughter of free men with full bellies. Even the trees looming over them seemed to reach out their branches like welcoming arms.
“You’re a good lad,” said Left-Hand Tom as he swung his flagon in a lazy arc, beer spilling over the side. The warmth of the firelight made his craggy features appear almost comforting. “Wish we’d had you with us all along.”
“I served Sir Jocelin in the rebellion.” Hob drank from his own tankard, enjoying stronger beer than he was used to. He laid his gently spinning head back on a clump of ferns and stared up at the stars. “Fought under him for our Lord of Lancaster.”
In his mind he saw ranks of spears and bows, men crushed against each other in the brutal press on the bridge. Others swung swords and clubs in the shallows or tried to scramble up the bank. The crash of blades and screams of pain echoed to him down the months, the damp of another man’s blood still feeling all too real on his hands.
Not for the first time since the fighting at Boroughbridge, a cold trembling took hold of him. He forced himself back to a more comforting reality, in which his belly was full and no-one was trying to kill him
“I’m not talking about the battle,” Tom said dismissively. “I meant I wish we’d had you for the stuff before that. Young Rob’s always been a good leader, but it’s the followers really make an armed band.”
Life before the bridge, before those brief hours of violence and loss, had been another world. Had Hob been a different man then? If actions defined him then he must have been.
It had never occurred to him to wonder who his comrades had been, before shared failure brought them together. Looking around the camp, he was struck by what a strong crowd he’d fallen in with. It took a strong spirit to face the world after losing an eye like Tom did, or to risk yourself boldly enough to receive the scars others wore. They were tough and determined, but on a night like this most of them were laughing and singing as happily as any man under heaven.
“What did you lot do before this?” Hob asked. He felt like it must be something courageous. These men knew how to fight, and they weren’t afraid of risks. “Did you fight in the King’s wars, or go on crusade?”
“I fought for the King once.” Tom swigged from his flagon. As he looked away from the campfire and up at the stars, his clouded, sightless eye receded into shadow. “Mostly it were other business though. There were this abbot once, over Derby way, and he-”
“Now, now, Tom,” said Robert as he emerged from the shadows of the trees, hitching up hose of fine cloth marred with stains and patches. “Hob doesn’t need to hear about what old folks did in their youth.”
“But I want to know.” Hob sat up, cross-eyed and swaying. “I was just a farmer. You were… were… were warriors!”
“That we were.” Robert placed a hand on his shoulder. “But tonight’s about you and your first catch.” Robert snatched Tom’s flagon and raised it along with his voice. “To Hob!”
“To Hob!” The cry echoed through the forest.
Far from home and lying out in the open with these strange, scarred men, Hob finally felt truly alive.
Two weeks later they were out beneath the stars again, this time sliding like shadows across the open fields. Bingham was one more ordinary village like the one Hob had grown up in, a cluster of houses amid narrow strip fields and common grazing pasture, with a well and a set of stocks in the middle of a muddy square. Thatched hovels sank into the darkness of night, only a single storey inn and a couple of waggons standing out in the gloom.
Half a mile from the town lay their target: a large, solidly built house behind a wooden stockade, the home of another retainer of the hated Despensers, one of the men who had stood against their revolt. The logs of the stockade had been cut to points like a row of giant thorns. Beyond, the stones of the fortified manor house stood gaunt and pale, small windows staring out like the sockets of a skull.
Reaching the wall, they wordlessly put their plan into action. Hob and another outlaw braced themselves while Robert clambered up them, swung over the top of the wall and dropped into the yard below. Carrying on around the compound, they reached the front gates, as something thudded to the ground inside. There was a clunk and one of the gates swung open just enough for them to slip through, past the guard who lay in the mud, blood seeping from the back of his head, his helmet discarded in a puddle.
Stepping over the man stirred an uneasy sensation in Hob. Was he passing a corpse or just an unconscious body? Should he pay his last respects? He hesitated as the others went on.
Tom tapped him on the shoulder and pointed toward the house. Shaking off his doubts, Hob followed him around the back, to a door into the kitchen. Standing at the corner, Robert held up a hand, counting down from three on his fingers. On zero, Tom kicked in the door. A similar thud came from the front of the house, and with it the barking of a dog.
They raced inside, swords drawn. The dim light of embers in the hearth revealed three people leaping from straw pallets. Hob dived on top of the nearest one, pinning them to the ground. They squirmed and clawed, then drove a knee up into his groin, making him gasp in pain. But he kept them in place, trapped against the pile of straw.
Crashes and cries filled the room as bodies tumbled across each other. Then the fire flared as Tom threw straw on, lighting up the kitchen with a sudden crackle of flames. One servant lay motionless by the hearth. Two outlaws restrained another by the door. Hob realised that he was holding a breathless and terrified serving girl no more than fifteen years old.
“Looks like Hob got lucky.” Tom winked as he helped drag the girl to her feet, past the fallen table and through a door into the main hall.
Here too the previous day’s fire had been stirred back into life. More of the outlaw gang stood in front of it, the rest of the household held at sword point in front of them. The grey haired master and mistress of the house stood in long night robes nearest the fire, hands clasped nervously together, while two more servants stood behind them in rumpled tunics.
In a chair beside the fireplace sat Robert Deyville, his feet up on a heap of bloodstained fur. Desperate to impress, Hob hurried over with his captive. His footsteps echoed from the rafters above.
Robert smiled appreciatively.
“Good work, lads.” He sniffed at the contents of a clay flagon, then took a large gulp. His expression turned sour and he flung the flagon to the floor, sending broken shards flying. “I expected better of you, Godfrey.”
“I’m so sorry to disappoint,” the man named Godfrey said.
The master of the house’s quiet dignity infuriated Hob. How could anyone respond so calmly in the face of this? That wasn’t how a robbery worked.
Footsteps rattled down a staircase at the side of the hall. Three more members of the gang appeared, each carrying a pair of bulging sacks.
“Well?” Robert stood. As he did so he kicked away the heap on which his feet had rested. A furred head flopped to one side, long tongue hanging out, and Hob found himself looking into the wide, blank eyes of a hunting dog, its sleek coat matted with blood.
One of the men held up a sack. “Cloth from Lincoln. Some French wine too, and silver candlesticks. No coin though.”
“Where do you keep the loot, Godfrey?” Robert asked.
“This is an outrage,” the ageing lord said. “Base robbery.”
“This is justice.”
Robert’s light, mocking tone made Hob uneasy. It seemed out of place when talking about serious matters.
“Justice?” Godfrey spat at the outlaw’s feet. “I’m no criminal. I’m not even one of Despenser’s cronies, if that’s how you justify these outrages. I’m an honest man.”
“If you’re an honest man then you’ll tell me where you keep your valuables.” Leaning down, Robert took a stick from the wood pile and thrust its end into the fire. “Of course, if your good character isn’t enough, I have other ways of motivating you.”
He lifted the stick and held its glowing end three inches from Godfrey’s face.
“I fought Bruce and his Scots barbarians,” Godfrey said. “Escaped Bannockburn bleeding and half drowned. I’ve no fear of what you can do to me.”
“How about what I can do to your wife?” Robert swung the stick toward the lady of the manor, who closed her eyes but held her ground. “Or to the people who depend upon you? This young woman for example?”
The serving girl trembled in Hob’s hands as Robert approached with the glowing brand. She whimpered, and hot tears dripped onto his fingers. It didn’t seem right, scaring the poor girl like this, even if Robert was bluffing.
Hob was almost certain that Robert was bluffing.
Robert turned. A hiss was followed by a muffled grunt as he pressed the burning point into Godfrey’s arm.
“No words?” Robert moved over to the wife. “Next, then.”
The smell of burning flesh turned Hob’s stomach. His grip on the serving girl loosened.
“Run,” he whispered.
For a moment she froze, watching as one of the outlaws stifled her mistress’s cries. Then she jerked out of Hob’s hands and dashed for the door.
A couple of the outlaws ran after her, but she was out of the hall and heading across the yard, screaming for help at the top of her lungs.
“Shit.” Robert flung the stick aside. “She’ll raise the locals. Grab what we’ve got and go.” He pointed at Hob. “We’ll be having words later.”
There was a knot in one of the logs on the fire. Its outer ring burned, while the centre stared blackly out at Hob. Unable to look away, he watched flames encroach upon it until the knot exploded and the log fell in two.
A sick feeling curled in his guts. Robert hadn’t touched the knight’s eye, but did that make things any better?
Dawn was rising over the camp, bringing out the green of the treetops, a single ray piercing the canopy to catch the roses at the side of the clearing. Birds sang in welcome to the sun.
The rest of the outlaws sat on the opposite side of the fire from Hob. Some looked at him with resentment; others, Left-hand Tom among them, with pitying glances. The girl had got away, not thanks to her own strength or wits, but thanks to him.
Leaves rustled behind Hob. Robert had returned from setting sentries.
“You lot piss off to bed.” The outlaw leader flung a bucket of water onto the fire. A blast of steam hissed angrily outward. As it faded away so did the band of outlaws, scattering to the dry spots they had found to lay their bedding on.
Hob let out a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. The sight of Robert by the fire had dragged dread from the depths of his mind. Sitting up straight, he watched as his leader settled onto a nearby log.
Casting aside the bucket, Robert drew a long dagger from his belt. He tossed it from hand to hand, his gaze never leaving Hob.
“Out with it,” Robert said. The blade danced between his fingers.
“With what?” Hob twisted his own fingers around each other as he struggled to keep his agitation under control. If he died now, run through by Robert’s blade, was there any chance he wouldn’t go to Hell? Either he’d done wrong by raiding that house, or he’d done wrong by letting the girl go and putting his comrades’ lives at risk. Death scared him, but damnation scared him more.
“With whatever objection you’ve suddenly found to the way we live,” Robert said. He flung the knife and Hob flinched as the blade sank into the dirt between his feet. “You think you’re the first poor bastard I’ve seen go through this? Get it off your chest, and then we can talk like grown men.”
Looking down at the knife, and then back up at Robert, Hob tried to sift through his conflicted feelings. Loyalty, love even, for the man who had given him this life, but doubt too – about who Robert and his men really were, about the goals they worked towards.
“You were criminals before the bridge, weren’t you?” he asked. “Before Lancaster tried to change things. Before your brother died.”
“Of course we were,” Robert replied, his eyes fixed unwaveringly on Hob. “So was Lancaster, when the time came for it. So were all the men who fought for him, and all those who he fought against. Of all the lords and knights in this land, only our piss poor excuse for a king never broke the law, and that’s because he makes it.
“You thought the nobility were law abiding souls, doing right by their neighbours and paying extra tithes on saints’ days? We’re all as greedy and ruthless as each other, all just trying to get our share. Sure, I robbed Godfrey, but he robbed me first. He used the law to take land that was mine. When he was younger he used arms too, his men and my father’s beating each other half to death over village tithes. He’s no different to us, none of them are. At least I’m honest about it, and as I rise I bring you boys up with me.”
“What about that servant girl?” Hob held his leader’s gaze. “Did she rob you?”
Robert’s expression became thoughtful, and he looked away into the grey slop that had been their fire. Hob wondered if he had sown doubt in a better man’s mind.
Then Robert looked back at him, smiling. “You’re a smart man, Hob. I guess that’s why I like you, why you’re not dead in a ditch already. And seeing as you’re so smart, I’m not going to spin you a web of shit. There isn’t one easy answer to that. It’s all in how you look at it.”
He got up, walked across the clearing and sat down next to Hob. The light of the rising sun picked out pale flecks in the darker grey of his eyes.
“That girl was working for Godfrey, so right away she’s not as innocent as you want to think. Still, there’s two ways to look at why she works for. The first way is the ugly one. She’s got no choice but to work for Godfrey, so it’s not her fault she’s against us. But if that’s the case, if people like her or like the men we fought at Boroughbridge can’t choose their fate, then they’re never going to choose to do the right thing. We have to force them to it, by whatever means it takes.
“The other way is to say that she has a choice, that her fate is in her own hands. Then she’s choosing to work for the man who robbed my family, and she deserves everything she gets.
“I know you don’t like to see the world this way.” Robert placed a hand on Hob’s shoulder. “But we have to live with the world we’ve got.”
The words and their tone settled over Hob’s mind like mist hiding the ugly angles of a broken landscape. For a moment, it all felt right.
But the doubts were still there, somewhere in the fog.
“It makes sense,” he said slowly, “but I need time to work it around in my head.”
Fingers tightened, claw-like, on his shoulder.
“Don’t take long,” Robert said, drawing his dagger from the ground. He stood, glaring down at Hob. “Either you’re one of us or you aren’t. If you can’t decide then I will.”
The green tunic was the most comfortable clothing Hob had ever owned. Made out of the fine cloth they’d stolen from Godfrey of Bingham, it was warm, soft, clean, and had no holes, unlike the ragged garments he’d been wearing before. Robert joked that they were wearing his livery now, all dressed up in matching finery. Tom argued that it helped them blend into the forest, but Hob wasn’t convinced. Unlike Tom, he wasn’t half blind, and even in Sherwood there weren’t many trees with leaves this bright.
Today their target was an abbot and his retinue. As Robert reminded the gang of how fat, wealthy and corrupt the priest was, his eyes were fixed on Hob.
It wasn’t hard to believe the story. Hob understood the difference between priests saving souls and monks playing at landowner, taking rich tithes from poor men. That in itself chased away his doubts. If priests couldn’t be trusted, then who could? It was hard not see a world as ugly as the one Robert had set out. Looking after those around you was the only righteous path.
Waiting in ambush, Hob peered through the undergrowth at the bright bodies approaching along the Leeds road. That must be the abbot near the front, his horse straining beneath his bulk, rings and chains glittering against perfectly black cloth. Two more priests rode beside him, while others walked behind, the dust of their passage settling on the initiates at the rear.
Only when the last of them had passed did Hob step onto the track and raise his bow.
“Hold, holy brothers!” he called out. “There’s a needle up ahead, and I doubt many of you will pass through its eye.”
The other bandits laughed as they emerged from the woods, weapons raised.
“Impudent knave.” The abbot’s voice was like thunder rumbling in the night. “Hell awaits those who rob holy men.”
The tip of Hob’s arrow wavered in the air, like the prospect of damnation dancing back and forth in his mind. Then he remembered everything Robert had told them about the priest. Maybe taking holy orders would get you into Heaven, but it wasn’t enough to get anyone Hob’s respect, never mind his mercy.
He loosed his arrow. The abbot stared in terror as the shaft quivered in the ground an inch from his horse. Hob drew another, this time pointing it straight at the priest.
Robert swaggered out of the tree line.
“Off your horse, Simon,” he said, “or I’ll kill that nag from under you, then charge you extra for soiling my blade.”
“Deyville.” The abbot filled that one word with a weight of loathing. “Of course.”
A ginger haired novice scurried around in his threadbare robes, coming to stand beside the abbot’s horse, hands intertwined by the stirrup. With a grunt like a well fed pig, the abbot swung his leg around, planted his foot in the offered support, and was lowered to the ground by the straining young priest. As the abbot stepped away, the novice glanced at Hob and rolled his eyes. The outlaw nodded to where Robert was spinning his dagger ostentatiously between his fingers. Hob and the novice grinned.
Warmth filled Hob. Here was a connection untainted by violence or vengeance, just two men sharing the absurdities of their superiors. As Robert had said, they weren’t different, the men on either side of the law.
The bandits were stripping the jewellery from the senior priests, seizing bags and pouches from the more junior. Left-hand Tom took charge of the horses, feeding each a handful of grain and then leading them away through the trees. The gold alone would see the outlaws eating like lords for the next few months. Hob wondered if he would get to ride a horse as well, to travel in style and comfort such as he had never known.
“You’ll swing for this, Deyville.” The abbot puffed out his chest; it still didn’t reach even halfway as far as his belly. “My cousin is the sheriff around here. Nobody touches our family. He’ll comb these woods with all the men he can gather. You won’t get away.”
Silence descended among the chattering bandits and nervously muttering priests. Robert stared at the abbot, dagger outstretched, his expression cold and deadly.
Then he laughed.
“Not once you’ve arranged our pardon, he won’t,” he said. Picking a ring out of the heap of jewellery they had stripped from the abbot, he thrust it into the priest’s sweaty hand. “Your seal. You’re going to write to your cousin, tell him we’re best friends now, and have him call off the dogs. Until you do, we’re keeping all your friends here as hostage. Every week that goes by without a pardon in my hands, I’ll string one of them up to be eaten by crows. You want to save your men from a noose? You save me and mine first.”
Mirth was replaced by fear in the novice’s eyes. It was the same fear Hob had felt as Lancaster’s forces were scattered at Boroughbridge. He’d fled across the fields followed by the terrible sound of enemy horsemen, knowing that if they caught him he was a dead man. He’d been right to be afraid – those same horsemen had seized Jocelin Deyville and taken him to the scaffold in York. The novice was right to be afraid now as he, like Hob, faced the prospect of death simply for who he served.
Robert had said that Hob had to decide who he was. Now it seemed that decision had come. Grabbing the novice roughly by the arm, he dragged him toward the trees, following the trail Tom had led the horses down.
“Please,” the novice whimpered. “Please, I’m just a poor man. I don’t want to die.”
“Nor do I.” Hob glanced over his shoulder. The other bandits were moving more slowly than him. Now, for one brief moment, they were out of sight.
This was it, his last chance to retain the life he had. To keep the friendships, the camaraderie and the full belly he had even in these tough times. To stay on the side of Robert Deyville, instead of joining the outlaw’s list of enemies. To remain an outlaw instead of their prey.
“This way.” He thrust the novice into the undergrowth, then followed him, both of them running as fast as the ferns and low branches would allow. “We need to be miles away by the time they see we’re gone.”
Thorns snatched at his legs, but Hob kept running.
Hob kept the plough moving while his neighbour Jacob talked excitedly about the news from down south. Invasion, revolt, a new king – such stuff didn’t thrill Hob like it once had. He had more pressing concerns. This field had provided a poor harvest the last two years, and with a child on the way he would do whatever was needed to ensure better crops.
“There’s all sorts come back with the Queen,” Jacob explained. “The younger Mortimer, Sir John Maltravers, one of the Deyvilles. Some that were pardoned after Boroughbridge have turned against the King – where’s the loyalty in that?”
Calling the ox to a halt, Hob stopped and leaned on the plough. He fought to stay calm, though his knuckles were white around the handle.
“The Deyville,” he said. “Do you know which one?”
“Not the older one,” Jacob said. “I heard they hanged him after Boroughbridge. One of his brothers – Robert maybe?”
“Is there any word on what he’s doing now?” Hob asked. He’d spent two years looking over his shoulder in case the Deyville gang should catch up with him. It was only when he heard that Robert had fled to France that he felt able to settle down.
“Probably swanning around court, celebrating how they’re in charge.” Jacob shook his head. “Though after five years, I imagine there’s many will soon head back to their lands.”
Hob looked around the hillside, down the valley to the village, and across to the woods beyond. This area wasn’t a Deyville holding, but name any lord in northern England and you’d be within a day’s walk of something his family owned. In his mind’s eye, Robert Deyville stalked the land looking to avenge past betrayals, including the desertion of a member of his band.
Bitter memories rose through the years: fear, horror, a burning brand an inch from a man’s eye. Most of all, the moment when Hob had realised where the real division between men lay – not between armed gangs all alike in their viciousness, but between men who would use cruelty to get their way and men who wouldn’t.
There were fond memories too, he wouldn’t deny it – companionship around a campfire, the excitement of an outlaw life, the certainty he was doing righteous work. Now he had peace and a gentler path, but regret at who he’d been niggled at him from time to time, when he wasn’t too hungry to think about such things. Worse yet was the part of him that missed it.
Maybe he’d go hunting this afternoon. He’d learnt to shoot looking after his own, when his own were men of violence and greed. His wife and the child inside her, they were his own now, but the bow still kept them from starving. What were the laws banning him from deer hunting, except another way for cruel men to fight each other? If hunting let him look out for approaching strangers, and scout out the best way to flee if trouble came, then so be it.
Smiling grimly, he set his hand to the plough.
ROBERT DEYVILLE AND ROBIN HOOD
The Robin Hood legends began appearing decades before Thomas of Lancaster’s failed revolt of 1321-2. But this rebellion and its aftermath helped to shape those legends. One of the earliest Robin Hood stories features Lancaster’s opponent, King Edward II, in place of King John, whose association with the legend comes later.
Edward II was a weak king, prone to favouritism and inaction. Political opposition gathered around Earl Thomas of Lancaster, a man at least as unpleasant and nearly as ineffective as the king, resulting in a brief revolt. On 16 March 1322, this rebellion was crushed at the Battle of Boroughbridge. Some of Lancaster’s supporters were executed, including Jocelin Deyville, and some were imprisoned. Others, Jocelin’s brother Robert among them, became outlaws on the run in the English countryside or fled to France. These malcontents eventually helped Edward’s wife seize the throne in her son’s name five years later.
Sadly, looking for a heroic Robin Hood figure among Lancaster’s supporters leads to disappointment. Outlaws such as Robert Deyville and his contemporaries in the Folville and Cotterell gangs were not noble idealists. They were repeat offenders who had used violent crime to get their way long before they fought on the losing side at Boroughbridge. Like so many men of influence in medieval England, they slipped into violence at almost any opportunity. Political ideals were not the reason for their crimes – they were an excuse.
The Robin Hood legends represent the image of these men they liked to project. Like any group that has combined feudal politics with criminal violence – from English outlaws to the Mafia, Mexican cartels to Daesh – they rely on a romanticised image of themselves to rally support. Yes, they fought against a weak and corrupt government. But, as our fictional Hob eventually realised, they were as selfish, cruel and corrupt as that regime could ever be.
There was probably no real Robin Hood, but the search for him can still cast light upon our world. And though men like Deyville used outlaw romance as a shield, it can still become an inspiration. Such is the power of myth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I live in northern England, where the grey skies provide an excellent incentive to stay indoors and write. When not working as a freelance writer, I play board games, build Lego and read comic books. Before all of that I spent six years studying history, in particular medieval English history – hence this story.
If you enjoyed this story then please leave a review of it wherever you get your ebooks – it’s just about the most helpful thing you can do for an author. You might also like to read From a Foreign Shore, my collection of history and alternate history short stories, featuring Vikings and a statue that refuses to die.
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You can find a full list of my books at http://andrewknighton.com/publications/.
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Thanks for reading!
DEDICATION AND THANKS
This book is dedicated to Val, with thanks for all your help and support through some very tough years.
Thank you to David Tallerman and Charlotte Bond for their excellent feedback, which contributed hugely to improving this story.
And thanks as usual to Russell Phillips, whose guidance and encouragement help keep me going.
Cover by Go On Write.
Hob was a simple peasant farmer until idealism turned him into a rebel. Now he's an outlaw living in Sherwood Forest, seeking justice at the end of an arrow. Under the leadership of Robert Deyville, Hob enjoys the outlaw life, feasting beneath the stars and robbing the supporters of a corrupt regime. But as he grows closer to his companions, the darkness of their life starts to show. With not just friendship but his life at risk, Hob struggles to separate right from wrong. Can he do what is right and survive to see the results? Is there such a thing as honour among thieves?