"Well researched and enjoyably written, Wolf's Head is a fast-paced and original recasting of a familiar legend. McKay's gift as a storyteller pulls the reader into a world of violence, passion, injustice, and revenge and leaves us wanting more!" (Glyn Iliffe, author, The Adventures of Odysseus series)
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 1321: 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 more 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.
©2013 Steven A. McKay (P)2014 Steven A. McKay
"Not your Grand-dad's Robin Hood"
This is a fast-paced telling of the Robin Hood story (or the beginning of his story as this is the first book of a series) told in the spirit of a Bernard Cornwell or Simon Scarrow historical adventure.
The gritty realism and earthy humour seems more in keeping with the subject matter than the tone often taken in historical adventures. These characters sound like the rough and ready people medieval outlaws living in the wild must have been.
Ellsworth's reading matches the tone of the book nicely. He selects appropriate pace for the story and adopts appropriate voice "identities" which emphasize specific characters quite effectively. This is the first book I have heard read by Ellsworth and he is clearly a professional. His voice is easy on the ear; always important when committing to a ten-hour audio experience.
Well, I might like to take Matilda of Wakefield out for dinner, but Robin might break my nose. (A lot of noses get broken in McKay's writing!)
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.
Ellsworth is a fine reader and does the novel and its characters credit. Definitely worth a listen.
The Robin Hood legend is so appealing and its historical roots so fog bound that it is ideal material for writers with an historical bent and the chops to combine its familiar elements into a tale both familiar and refreshingly new. McKay makes a good start of it with a lively, rustic setting in keeping with a specific moment in British history and an appealing young future hero who easily garners our sympathy and support. Unfortunately, by starting with a teenager whose only qualifications as the renowned Hood-to-be are superb skills with a bow and a good and generous heart, the author makes it very difficult for us to believe that Robin becomes the unparalleled swordsman, tactical genius and superb leader of hardened, older men he needs to be within the scant year he is given in this first book in the series. Suspension of disbelief is always necessary in these tales, but we need a few threads strong enough to support our willing credulity. Those are missing here, and as a result, by the end I felt as though I were in a fairy tale world where one does best if there are no questions asked. Too bad, really, because we are given a very interesting mix of semi-familiar characters and the plotting is quite strong.
Given the expert narration by Nick Ellsworth, this could have been a really satisfying retelling. I rather wish the story had begun later in Robin's development so that brief glimpses of back story would have supplied the experience and maturation he needed to be convincing. Too late for that now, sadly, and I will not be going on to the next in the series.
"I JUST WANT TO KILL NOBLES"
This is not a bad book and it is also not a great book. It was interesting enough that I listened to the whole thing. It is a little rougher then any other Robin Hood story I have ever read. Robin Hood ends up doing a lot of killing. While this is probably more real then the cartoon Robin Hood, the scenes were not that well done. For Example a woman bites off a man's penis, while it is hard and there is no blood. I did not see that coming and thought it added some realism to the time and place, but was disappointed that it was cleaned up to the point of not being real. There are other problems, too many things just happen to fall in place. Robin Hood is a lot like Jack Lord was on the old Hawaii Five-0. If he says What If?, you can take it to the bank that is the way it is going to happen. I also had problems with a character who is all broke up, over his dead family from three years ago, but does not realize, his then five year old daughter is still alive. Hood happens to discover her when he goes to this guy's hometown. He just has a hunch he will find something that will make the guy want to live, and lo and behold he finds his now 8 year old daughter.
I like the historical aspect of the story and I felt I was in old England. He did a good job of showing how oppressed the people where and why. While McKay is not a Michael J. Sullivan or Joe Abercrombie, he can write.
Once again, I disagree with others on the narrator. This guy has a lilt at the end of each sentence which makes it sound like he is reading a nursery rhyme. He also has a sort of deadpan delivery during action scenes, which is a great let down to the action. He is not bad enough to ruin the book, I just believe a better narrator could have made this more exciting.
"Good Robin Hood story, looking forward to book 2"
Surprisingly good story.
hmm.... its been a few books in between listening to this book and writing this review... don't recall!
Don't think I have listened to Nick Ellsworth before. I won't hesitate to listen to his narration again, as long as it is for the right book!
Sorry, can't answer that
I hesitated to pick this book, as I thought I knew the Robin Hood story, and it would be a bit boring to listen to. But I was pleasantly surprised. This story is entertaining, different, fast paced, rough and overall a good historical adventure. Keeps you hanging on. If you enjoy this book, I recommend the Outlaw series by Angus Donald.
Took me a couple of chapters to get into my first audio book but when l did....WOW, a wonderful book read very well, the narrator did a excellent job of bringing it to life.
Perfect flow to the story, life-like characters, brilliant fight scenes.
The village fair with the arrogant friar.
"Enjoyable, but poorly written."
I always enjoy a good Robin Hood story, so I think my time was well spent. I just can't say that I would recommend it to anyone who isn't looking for the story itself. The writing is much lower quality than I anticipated.
Honestly, I would have to seriously reconsider anything I wanted to read or listen to by this author.
The performance was alright. A bit slow and it definitely lacked energy. I don't know how much of that was the fault of the reader or the story.
I honestly didn't have any major problems with the plot. It was somewhat lackluster at times, but overall the idea was acceptable. But the writing was... it read more like a fan fiction, to be honest. The writing lacked style, technique, and - at times- subtlety. For one matter, this author should probably pick up a few (quality!) romance novels before trying to write anything remotely resembling a sexual scene ever again. That being said, the action scenes were surprisingly well written in comparison to the rest of the story. Characters lacked voice and the reminder phrase "show, don't tell" should be marked on this author's writing desk.
Ok so I am addicted to this series. I listen to Audiobooks as a farm. Makes hours on a tractor a great time. Stevens series is great and i enjoy the Preformance of the Narrator and cant wait for his latest to hit Audible. Yes I could read them but having followed this series with Nicks voice in my head I need to carry on even if I have to wait. I understand he has completed the series and look forward to the rest of the story. Whats next Steven I will be sure to read or have a listen.
Any of the women he does a great job.
Will Scaflock and John Little
great series buy it and listen
"Very entertaining and engaging - Bravo!"
Yes, I plan on doing just that. Once isn't enough.
A fresh and interesting story about how Robin Hood and his merry men got started. All of the characters are robust and very 'human.' I think I experienced every emotion possible while listening to this wonderful tale of struggle, hope, and determination.
First time. He did an amazing job making the story come alive.
I sure tried to do just that but my job got in the way.
I'm going to go find other stories by this author as soon as I finish typing. All too often I will plod through a book only to lose interest towards the end - sometimes stopping with only a chapter or two left. Not this book! I truly cared about Robin and all those he held dear. I wanted to see how every single story thread ended. I was hooked all the way to the very last sentence.
"Incredibly well written"
The amount of thought, heart, and emotion the writer puts in this makes it easy to read/listen to. It is a great book by those standards as it lets you to get involved, and be a part of the story. I felt as if I was there the whole time. it was incredible. The author has done his research and made a great story out of it. While it is hard to write fiction while sticking to non-fiction timelines and names, he has done a great job on following the original story while adding his twists in there that make the story intriguing.
My favorite character has to be John Little. You don't know much about him yet and yet he is as loyal as they come. I love the devotion he gives to his leaders and how he uses his past experiences to help him in the future. Great character.
John Little and Friar Tuck have to be my favorite by Nick Ellsworth. He has such a great voice and does those ones better than the others in my opinion
It was a book that I wanted to listen to in one sitting. I had to put other things on hold so that I could finish it because I was so into the story.
"Why does this have such good reviews??"
The writing. I'm very picky about the audiobooks I buy. I mean, they're pretty expensive and I don't want to waste time on bad ones when there are so many good ones. I'm a big fan of fantasy/historical fiction and of Robin Hood so it's not the genre ... this book is just plain poorly written, and only barely saved by the decent reader. Poor plot and character development, characters acting as the writer needs them to rather than as they would in 'real life' (seemingly), continuity problems, and just plain awkward writing. I can't recommend this for even the most diehard Robin Hood fan.
No, I'll just be more careful in future.
Possibly. It's hard to say whether he saved this book from being a total loss or whether he didn't help any - the writing was that bad.
I may still return it. I kind of resent spending money on something this bad, though I did end up listening to it to the end, which after this first chapter I didn't think I could tolerate!
I like both versions, the written being much more portable (and I can fall asleep reading), and spoken (audio) version being more versatile - I can do other things whilst listening.
The ambush on the sheriff and abbot, where the outlaws get help from an unexpected source.
It made me laugh on several occasions, wistful at times.
Most of us have heard the story of Robin Hood, his nobly born lady fair (the maid Marian), the evil sheriff of Nottingham, and his equal in notoriety, Guy of Gisborne. Wolf's Head has very few similarities to that story, and the author takes you on a sometimes rather bleak and dismal trek through the woods and villages of Barnsdale with our hero and his friends. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing bleak and dismal about the writing, but you get sucked into a believable miserable mid-winter forest, scratching a living from what little you can find, or steal. Robin is a young lad, not the grown, outcast noble we usually think of, and he has to fight hard to earn his place as leader of the outlaws. A compelling story, packed with action and political intrigue, a little love, and plenty of humour. I will definitely be reading this again!
"A Brilliant Reworking of a Popular Story"
Yes, because the story is both compelling and believable. It was also an innovative retelling of the much loved Robin Hood tale.
The characters had depth. The storyline was exhilarating, and carried the listener along. The language was contemporary, and that was refreshing.
It took me a little while to get used to the performance. At first I thought that the reader needed to put more feeling into it. As the story went on, however, he seemed to get into his stride, and I enjoyed his performance more. I think the performer read the female characters quite well, and that must be difficult for a male performer.
Definitely worth the listening time, and I would definitely listen to it many times, as I do with all my favourite audio books.
I have the Kindle version of Steven A. McKay's book, and have read it quite a few times now because I enjoy it very much. It was interesting to listen to it, having already got used to my own characterisations of the main characters.
"Robin Hood Rebooted"
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Wolf's Head and will listen again to enjoy the drama and tension of the outlaws' adventures and to revisit the over arching political intricacies that are so well presented. Once started, I listened at every opportunity until I had finished because the story gripped so tightly.
The action comes thick and fast, the plot twisting and turning to keep the listener interested all of the way through. The characters are well rounded, their motivations and decisions thoroughly believable.
Little John's portrayal as a gruff, gentle giant is performed excellently. His colourful language and huge personality were brought to life well by Nick Ellsworth.
Destroy A Life, Save A Kingdom
I will certainly be looking out for the sequel to Wolf's Head. The historical note provided by the author is also a helpful addition.
"A great listen"
One of the best audio books I have purchased, very well written and read I am eagerly awaiting the second book
It reworked the familiar legend very well, although a lot of the descriptions and passages took me way back to Richard Greene's Robin Hood ( the happy go lucky Robin not the murderous one)
All the main characters were excellent
I almost did, (had to go to the shops)
You couldn't listen to it with your mother or children
"cant ask for more"
I believe the two formats are seperate enterties, and not really comparable. The novel is fantastic and i struggle to find fault with it, but the audio brings a new dimension obviously bringing the talents of more than one person. In this case all those talents work in perfect harmony.
I believe the writer really has a voice of his own and i wouldnt really compare him to anyone that i usually read.
oh you would like to keep going till the end but real life rarely allows that sort of time allotted to pure enjoyment.
Excellent full stop
I have read the book and loved it so buying the Audio version was a no brainer and I was not disappointed. Being able to listen to the story while out and about is brilliant. The readers voice was not harsh or intrusive. I could tell which characters were speaking easily which added to the enjoyment.
That's easy Robin Hood. I liked his character straight away. I enjoyed the fact that he is only 17 when we first meet him, so we get to see his character development as he learns to live in the forest.
I enjoyed Robin rescuing Matilda From Adam and the aftermath with Will. Won't say to much as I don't want to spoil it for others.
There are parts in this story that truly made me laugh, there is also a lot of suspense and sadness too. But above all I found it exciting.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good story but doesn't always have time to sit down and read one. I read what one of the reviewers wrote about this audiobook and I'm convinced he has the wrong book. To say it's like a kids book is just silly. What with some of the language, and the well described battles that take place, if you let your children read or listen to books like this then your opinion is of no importance. To end my review I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this and no doubt I will listen to it many times more. Simply, it deserves 5 stars and I look forward to listening to the rest of the trilogy.
"Not what I expected"
Definitely read this. Robin comes to life as a real person living in mediaevil England.
You feel you are there, just as Ken Follett does in Pillars of the Earth
His voice creates an excitement in the action scenes.
No, because I wanted it to last longer. It was easy to break up into smaller stories. Great.
"Bear with it,it gets better!"
Steady plot development
Bear with it. It took a couple of chapters to get used to both the authors style of writing and the narrators style of story telling!
"A Rollicking Listen"
I reckon this story would appeal to anyone who likes fast-paced adventure and enjoys learning a bit of history along the way. Nick Ellsworth has a gentle, easy narration style that is soothing and engaging.
The descriptive and 'feel' of Robin's world and the greenwood were rich and evocative. This, for me, was very reminiscent of Fred Nath's excellent Galdir series.
There's a bit where one character gets his comeuppance [no spoilers], and the manner in which this is done is pretty satisfying. Also, although there are other dark scenes throughout the book, it's also laced with humour. Very nicely balanced.
Something is stirring in the Greenwood...
"A cracking rework of an old tail. Not for kids."
Yes I would listen to it again. Already have to refresh my memory for the second book of the series. I have now read both books by the author and looking forward to the third.
This is the first audio book I have had. The story is in the classic historic fiction style.
I have had a couple of laughs even though reading the novel the story was familiar.
Nick done a great job narrating the book, and even though a reader I would consider an audio book by the author and narrator.
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