Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Last Arrow by Marsha Canham

This is the final book in the Robin Hood trilogy, where the Robin Hood character(s) finally come to light, along with the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Littlejohn and all of them.

I didn't mention the character of Sparrow in the first 2 books - he's a dwarf who has ape-like abilities to swing through trees and shoot arrows. He's a funny little fellow who appears in all three books. Littlejohn, or Petit Jean, Jean de Brevant is only in books 2 and 3. I expected the hero of this book to be Robert de Wardieu, the oldest son of the hero and heroine of book 1. He is the younger half brother of Eduard, the hero of book 2. He has pledged his love and his life to the maid Marienne (get it? Maid Marian??), who has stayed with the blind Princess Eleanor, who should have been queen but preferred to be a nun anyway.

However, as prominent a character as Robert aka Robin is in the book, he is not the hero. The hero is his now-arch nemesis, former friend, Griffyn Renaud who develops a tendre for Robin's younger sister, Brenna, our beloved heroine.

Brenna's a hoyden - she prefers to dress in boys clothing because it's easier to ride a horse and shoot arrows that way. Of course, she's a master archer, taking after the family friend Gil Golden of books 1 and 2 (Gillian, female, now dearly departed). However, she isn't quite as annoying as Lady Ariel was, and she's a lot more fun too.

She's torn because she discovers that Griffyn, passing as Robin's friend, is actually the Prince of Darkness who is hired to kill Robin at a tournament - and she's fallen in love with him. It's just a job to him, until he meets Brenna - and until he meets our second female villain of the series, another torturing woman who gets off on blood and gore and learns what she and the man who hired him are really after (which includes his own grisly death).

While I didn't like Ms Torturer again for the same reasons as the female villain in the first book (not a shred of decency there, not even 1), I will say the villains in the book were cleverer than usual and almost outwitted our merry band in Nottingham Forest. Even when I thought I had figured out who the mole was, I couldn't believe it - and I was right. It seemed like an error on Griffyn's part, but indeed it was more the patience of the villain, to plant the mole and wait for years for the plan to play out. The final battle was truly heart-stopping and -wrenching.

4 stars - I like Canham's work, but this wasn't a keeper series for me even though I did enjoy it quite a lot.

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