Overall I liked it very much. My knowledge of the Robin Hood legend, prior to reading this, pretty much consisted of the Walt Disney animated movie. You know, with the fox and the bear and Sir Hiss. Yeah, that movie. Which, if I remember correctly, doesn't spend too much time on how Robin Hood became Robin Hood.
Outlaws, on the other hand, pays a lot of attention to that issue. Basically, Robin - who is trying to hold on to his late father's lands - accidently kills a man, and goes into hiding in Sherwood. Much and Marian, his childhood chums, pretty much talk him into starting up a band of Saxons who want to live outside of Norman rule, not pay their crappy taxes, and so on.
Robin spends a lot of the book moping and playing devil's advocate to Much and Marian's cherry optimism. Just when you're about to turn him over to the Sherrif yourself, he comes out of his funk and starts playing leader, however reluctantly, to the growing number of people who've come to their little hideaway. He takes his leadership responsibilities very seriously, and this leads to some internal conflict over Marian. He loves her, but he can't bring himself to tell her so, which would basically amount to asking her to leave her manor and her nice duds and come live out in the wilderness with him. And Marian's not sure how he feels about her. Eventually disaster strikes and the two realize what dopes they've been, and cuteness ensues.
Being primarily a Koontz fan, the language in McKinley's book was very different from that which I'm used to. Different word choice and also sentence structure. There were a couple lines I had to reread several times before the meaning sunk in. I'm not sure if the author was going for an archeic feel, or if the book just needed some better editing. It was surprisingly humorous, though, proving that at one point the English people did have a recognizable sense of humor!
The Sherrif wasn't a very impressive bad guy. For a long time he just ignores the merry men (who aren't all that merry, and aren't all men, either) because he doesn't want to deal with them. Then he ignores them because he's embarassed by them. Then he can't find them. Then he tries to lure Robin into a pretty lame trap, with unexpected consequences. Then he hires an assassin, good old Guy, which was probably his first smart move of the book. Finally, after some bloodshed he's not even around for, he rides in, tries to look cool, and gets upstaged by Richard the Lionhearted.
As far as endings go, I think I prefered the Disney version. No, I know I did. But hey, I'm a sucker for happy endings. Still, overall, it was a good read.
PS: With any luck, The Luck of the Fryish should be done by tomorrow. Yay!