Wolf's Head : The Forest Lord

  • by Steven A. McKay
  • Narrated by Nick Ellsworth
  • Series: The Forest Lord
  • 10 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- presterjohn1

Near miss

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.
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- David "Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-04-2014
  • Publisher: Steven A. McKay