Summary

"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
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By TheFluffyViking on 29-05-14

Outstanding!

Would you consider the audio edition of Wolf's Head to be better than the print version?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Wolf's Head?

The ambush on the sheriff and abbot, where the outlaws get help from an unexpected source.

Which character – as performed by Nick Ellsworth – was your favourite?

Will Scarlet.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh on several occasions, wistful at times.

Any additional comments?

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!

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Louise Rule on 03-06-14

A Brilliant Reworking of a Popular Story

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes, because the story is both compelling and believable. It was also an innovative retelling of the much loved Robin Hood tale.

What did you like best about this story?

The characters had depth. The storyline was exhilarating, and carried the listener along. The language was contemporary, and that was refreshing.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

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.

Was Wolf's Head worth the listening time?

Definitely worth the listening time, and I would definitely listen to it many times, as I do with all my favourite audio books.

Any additional comments?

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.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By presterjohn1 on 23-04-14

Not your Grand-dad's Robin Hood

What made the experience of listening to Wolf's Head the most enjoyable?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What does Nick Ellsworth bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.

If you could take any character from Wolf's Head out to dinner, who would it be and why?

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!)

Any additional comments?

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.

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10 of 12 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jim "The Impatient" on 07-11-14

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.

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16 of 23 people found this review helpful

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