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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.
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Robin Hood’s Dawn Blog Tour – Q&A, Excerpt, and More!

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to a cool new book – Robin Hood’s Dawn by Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer. This first-in-trilogy book broadens the storyline of the well-known legend of Robin Hood, and looks to be an intriguing addition to the mythology surrounding one man’s attempts to fight back against tyranny. Enjoy!

About the Book

A story birthed from both history and folklore— step into a unique retelling of the Robin Hood legend.

Set in 12th century England and France, a time of anarchy, intrigue, and turmoil, Robin Hood’s Dawn [Angevin World Publishing, January 16, 2018] by authors Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer offers readers a carefully crafted story blending real history with key elements of the Robin Hood legend. In an intriguing story that highlights Robin’s family background and dynamics like never before, readers will be undeniably enchanted as they follow Robin Fitzooth, a man falsely convicted of a shocking crime who finds refuge in Sherwood Forest and becomes Robin Hood. Leading a band of men against the injustices of a malevolent sheriff and his henchmen, Robin begins to unravel a web of treachery threatening the English royal family.

As shadowy forces gather to destroy the future of a nation, Robin faces deceit, betrayal, and the ravages of war as he defends his king, his country, his people, and the woman he loves from a conspiracy so diabolical, so unexpected, that the course of history hangs in the balance.

From the mists of an ancient woodland, to lavish royal courts teeming with intrigue, and the exotic shores of the Holy Land — Robin Hood leads the fight in a battle between good and evil, justice and tyranny, the future and the past.

Developed in a fast-paced storyline with elements of political intrigue, questionable morality, adventure, romance, suspense, and mystery, Robin Hood’s Dawn is part one of an enthralling three-part retelling of the legend of Robin Hood.

***

Q&A with Authors Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer

Robin Hood has been featured in many books, movies, and television shows. How is your story different?
We have taken a fresh approach to the Robin Hood story, and we’re excited to share our vision with fans of the legendary hero.
We have creatively reimagined the origins of the Robin Hood legend, which includes exploring the complexity of his family dynamics – an aloof, proud father loyal to King Henry II, and a kind-hearted, generous mother devoted to ministering to the poor with her gift for healing. One theme is that the consequences of immoral actions and secret sins can reverberate across generations, and this is part of the legacy that Robin receives from his father.

We wanted to cast him as a hero fighting against the tyranny of a lawless government official instead of a bandit redistributing wealth. When Robin is falsely accused of a shocking crime by the new Sheriff of Nottingham, he could have simply retreated to a safe place beyond the reach of the sheriff. However, he feels a responsibility to the people – he believes in the intrinsic value of every human being – so he takes a stand to defend the people from the actions of the sheriff. And this points to another theme: one person can make a difference by taking a stand for what is right.

Robin also feels great admiration for the newly crowned King Richard the Lionhearted. His loyalty to the king will create a number of conflicts and unexpected consequences in the story.

Lastly, we wanted to set our Robin Hood story in a fascinating time period: the 12th century. In our humble opinion, the 12th century has much to offer fans of sweeping tales of political, social, and spiritual upheaval.

We have carefully constructed our story within the framework of real history. We hope that this realism and devotion to actual history will add to the enjoyment of the story and encourage people to learn more about this time.

You’ve emphasized how your Robin Hood story has been reimagined. Will fans of the traditional ballads still recognize this as a Robin Hood story?
There is a lot of variety in the many books and screen adaptations of the Robin Hood legend. We wanted to create a story that was respectful towards fans of the original ballads and legends without necessarily adhering to the same storylines that have been previously written. It is our hope that all Robin Hood fans will enjoy this fresh retelling of the story.

For example, we feel that Marian is a character who deserves more attention. All too often she is a background character with little to do. With this in mind, we have focused on creating a Lady Marian who will figure more prominently in the story, especially in book 2.

Our Marian is more than a love interest for Robin. Over the course of Robin Hood’s Dawn, Marian transforms from a sheltered, somewhat pampered, girl into a brave woman who continuously strives to overcome both her fears and the obstacles that she faces. We also wanted her to be feminine and remain believable as a woman of the 12th century. Of course, keep in mind that the most prominent woman of the 12th century was the indomitable Eleanor of Aquitaine, an inspiration to any woman living in a male-dominated society.

Fans of the Robin Hood legend will find many familiar characters: Maid Marian, Little John, Allan-a-dale, Will Scarlet, Much the Miller’s son, Guy of Gisborne, and the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Readers will also meet real historical figures such as King Stephen, King Henry II, Richard the Lionhearted, King Philippe II of France, Prince John “the Lackland”, and many others, including Ranulphus Besace. Who was he? Well, he was a real person who was King Richard’s personal physician!

This book is advertised as the first in a trilogy. Will the first two books end in cliff-hangers? Will any of the books be stand-alone?
Although the final mysteries and conflicts will not be resolved until book 3, we have structured the trilogy so that books 1 and 2 do not end in cliffhangers.

The readers will not be left wondering whether the main characters will live or die, and we have endeavored to create a sense of completion in each of the first two books. Some story threads will be resolved, and some of the mysteries surrounding the main characters will be revealed in each of the first two books.

We think readers will be excited and eager for the next installment without suffering undue frustration at the endings of books 1 and 2.

The books will not be stand-alone.

How did each of you become interested in writing this story and working together as co-authors?
Olivia:
I love to tell stories with multi-dimensional characters. I speak several languages, and I found that I enjoyed not only writing stories but also writing them in different languages. My favorite legendary hero is Robin Hood, and my favorite historical figure is Anne Boleyn. My first novel is an English-language re-imagining of the story of Anne Boleyn.

In 2015, I met Coleen (J.C.) on the Internet and we decided to co-author a Robin Hood Trilogy.
It is amazing that Coleen and I have managed to successfully work together on our project despite the fact that we have never met each other in real life. We talk on the phone and frequently exchange skype messages as well as emails. We have been working together long-distance despite living in very different time zones.

Coleen (J.C.)
I began writing about three years ago. I had previously done editing work for other authors, but I had never thought about writing my own stories until one day when I was suddenly inspired to start writing, and I’ve been writing nearly non-stop ever since.
I wanted to write a book that would honor the legend of Robin Hood as a man who stood against the tyranny of a powerful government official; a man who fought for justice and fairness because he recognized the intrinsic value rooted in the humanity of all people.

So, you’ve never actually met, you come from different countries, different cultures, and speak different languages. How can you co-author a book? Is it because you have similar writing styles?
Coleen:
Fortunately, Olivia is fluent in English, because that’s the only language I know!

Olivia:
We have found that we have a lot in common – especially our love of writing and of history. We have to work hard to merge our writing styles, but we have successfully done this.

Coleen:
That’s very true. Oliva and I have very different “voices” and writing styles. You might even say they are nearly opposite styles.
I tend to write in a straightforward, expository style, with a minimum of descriptive elements and metaphorical flourishes. I am good at explaining things, organizing ideas, and creating natural sounding dialogue.

Olivia:
My writing is characterized by lush romanticism and passionate lyricism. I love to create metaphors and descriptions which excite the imagination of the reader in a vivid and dramatic way.

Coleen:
In some respects, Olivia’s words are the emotional heart of the story, and my words represent the rational intellect. Of course, it’s not quite that cut-and-dried, but it is one way to describe how two people with such different styles have come together to create Robin Hood’s Dawn.

***

Excerpts
Chapter 6: The Earl of Sherwood Forest

25 August 1188, Sherwood Forest

Forcing himself to redirect his thoughts away from Marian’s perilous circumstances, Robin returned to his scrutiny of Gisborne’s weapon. He frowned at the sword and mumbled, “Interesting.”

“What is it, Lord Robin?” inquired Much.

Robin revealed, “This sword is quite distinctive.”

Will leaned closer for a better view. “It looks like any other sword, except for all those marks on the blade.”

Robin inspected the extravagant weapon as he described it. “This is an excellent sword, equal to the one I carry. It’s unlikely that a landless knight like Gisborne would own such a weapon, although sometimes a wealthy noble will award a superior sword to his favorite squire on the occasion of his knighthood, especially if the knight will be tasked with guarding the lord.”

Much felt confused. “Gisborne is Argentan’s captain; he was probably his squire too. Why does the quality of this sword surprise you?”
Robin countered, “Much, do you remember the Barony of Argentan from our travels through Normandy?” At the quick shake of Much’s head, he disclosed, “Well, I remember it. Argentan is not prosperous; it is small and insignificant. I wonder how Baron de Argentan could afford to give such an expensive weapon to his captain.”

Rising, the three men strolled to a nearby spot brightened by a shaft of light, and Robin held the blade where the sun’s rays could illuminate its elaborate designs. He continued to study it as Will and Much watched.

Much commented, “Those marks look like letters.”

An amazed Will stared at Much. “You can read?”

Much’s ruddy complexion darkened slightly in self-consciousness. “I can read a little. I was allowed to listen to Lord Robin’s lessons, and his tutor kindly taught me many things.”

Robin pointed to the elegant etching on the blade. “Notice these two lions – I saw something similar on Argentan’s ring. Above the lions is a rising sun, and below them is a peculiar inscription.”

Much squinted at the blade and grumbled in frustration. “I know my reading is not as well-practiced as yours, but I cannot decipher any of those words.”

Robin smiled affectionately at his friend. “Be at ease, Much. It is not English; it is written in Latin. I’ve seen this style of inscribed sword in the past, but typically they are engraved with prayers, such as ‘In the Name of the Father.’”

“Do you know what it says?” asked Will.

Robin replied, “I can translate it, even though the letters are crowded together. It says, ‘From Shadows to Glory: I am Immortal, and My Kingdom Awaits.’” He harrumphed grimly, flustered by the unexpected phrase. He lowered the sword from the patch of sunlight as he became lost in his thoughts.

Robin blew out an exasperated breath. “Argentan mentioned shadows, but he was speaking in riddles. I must think on this more. For now, I will keep this sword; I want Gisborne to know that I have it.”

Following Much and Will back to the campfire, Robin plotted Marian’s rescue.

*

Robin vs. the Sheriff Excerpt

Chapter 12: More Precious Than Silver

January 1189, South of Nottingham

Argentan goaded Robin. “Many times I have heard the story of how your father sent Hugh of Gisborne to the shadows. Yet, you are hesitating. Why is that, Robin? Are you the son of Duncan Fitzooth, or are you a maudlin woman?”

Guy felt the pressure of Robin’s knee vanish as the outlaw stood while still pointing his sword at Guy’s throat. Robin then reached down and reclaimed Gisborne’s weapon. “I will be keeping this sword, Gisborne. I’ve grown fond of it.” Closely watching Guy, Robin instructed his friend, “Much, tie Gisborne’s hands so that he cannot attempt another cowardly attack, if I turn my back again.”

An apparently disappointed sheriff sneered, “Showing Gisborne mercy demonstrates to me that you are weak. Gisborne is weak too. It is a fatal flaw that you both share, along with your lust for the same woman. I find it interesting that the two of you have so much in common. What do you think, Robin Hood?”

Intently studying the sheriff, Robin parried Argentan’s verbal thrust. “I think I’d like to know why you are communicating with King Philippe.” Robin inwardly cheered when he saw the sheriff blanch.

Argentan was actually speechless for several moments, but he soon recovered and coolly replied, “I believe that life in the frozen forest has addled your mind. The King of France would never take notice of a humble baron from Normandy.” He frowned and feigned sadness. “You are like a man lost in the twilight of a wintry day; the clouds have obscured the sun, and the abundance of shadows has confused your sense of direction.”

Robin barked a short, humorless laugh. “Your riddles are absurd.”

Argentan resumed, seemingly unperturbed. “Someday, my young Earl of Huntingdon, the sun will break through the clouds and illuminate everything around you. The truth of the shadows will be revealed.”

“You have not answered me: why are you corresponding with the King of France?” Robin repeated while scrutinizing the sheriff’s reaction.

“Does King Henry know that he sent a spy to Nottingham?”

***

About the Authors

Authors Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer met online and bonded over a passion for storytelling, history, and fiction. They began the journey of writing The Robin Hood Trilogy despite having never met each other in person.

Olivia Longueville has degrees in finance and general management from London Business School. Currently, she is working in investment banking and is also helping her father run the family business. Longueville loves historical fiction, considering herself an amateur historian, and she is passionate about historical research, genealogy, and art. She has undertaken in-depth research into the history of the Valois dynasty, the French Renaissance, the Tudors, and the Plantagenets. As an established published writer of Between Two Kings, she is interested in creating strong and diverse characters, and giving voice to stories that are unique, compelling, inspiring, and amusing.

J.C. Plummer graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology. She then earned a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Science from Dartmouth College. Growing up on a small farm in Kansas, Plummer developed a lifelong fascination with history and a curiosity about other cultures and people. Coauthoring The Robin Hood Trilogy has merged her passions for history, culture, and technology into one unique, exciting project. As an author and historian, Plummer’s goal is to provide thoughtful and entertaining storytelling that honors the past, is mindful of the present, and is optimistic for the future.

To learn more about Robin Hood’s Dawn: Book One in the Robin Hood Trilogy, visit www.angevinworld.com.

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