The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson

   Let’s go back to the 15th century, the War of Roses (English civil war). Though, in all honesty, this book focuses more on the two main characters than the war itself.
I actually really enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I started reading it after I bought it from a thrift store and discovered I had no other books to read on the drive home (just to clarify- I wasn’t the one driving).
Quite a few people have said they found it hard to understand the language. I’m not sure why, but I love reading Middle English literature (think Canterbury Tales).

I find it quite absorbing reading the way they spoke (and spelled) then and comparing it to our vernacular today. Anywho, enough said on that.
What I found engrossing:
#1. Richard Shelton is a brave boy (in the words of Joanna), though he sometimes makes you wonder at his thought process. I did think it a little strange that he really thought Matcham a boy (of course, I guess girls didn’t normally wear pants back then). Now that I think of it, it resembled closely Disney’s movie, Swiss Family Robinson, where the boys rescue the girl.
#2. Matcham’s conversation definitely seems to belie her (ie, stop saying boy), as does her crying (at which point Richard is certain he has a coward for a companion). My favorite part is where the leper comes in and she faints.
#3. I agree 100% with Lord Foxham concerning Richard, “Ye fight, like a young man, ignorantly and foolhardily; but, by the array of the saints, ye fight bravely!”
#4. I felt sorry for poor Hatch, he really should have switched sides when he had the chance.
#5. Sir Oliver pretty much gave himself away when Richard asked about his father’s murder (that was one point where Richard really needed some subtlety). I really thought he had changed for the better until he betrayed Richard. 🙁
#6. Brackley was strange. The way he kept changing sides- I’d never want him on my side for fear of betrayal.
#7. Alicia (the girl whose name you finally discover at the end of the book) was interesting to say the least. First she’s mad at Richard, then she’s in love with him. Her proposal to Richard was sort of a shock to me.
#8.Richard the Crookback was not only crooked in body but also in personality. He was rather hasty in his decision making, and if I had been Shelton I probably wouldn’t have worked with him.
#9. Lawless makes a rotten spy when he’s disguised as a monk and drunk (as poor Richard learned speedily enough).
#10. I was disappointed with all the needless bloodshed and was thus gladdened when Richard’s conscience began to prick him (and, consequently, helped save the shipmaster).
#11. The book ended well (the bad guy gets justice, the good guy goes happily on his way- or, in this case, gets married).
#12. It was filled with humor, adventure, swordfights, moats, spies…. what more could you ask for (maybe a capture/escape and an extra swordfight or two, but that’s beside the point)?

I’d give it five books.
Reasons I was less than enthralled:
#1. the needless bloodshed.
#2. Stealing the ship (I mean really, why not pool some money and buy it?)
#3. Look up what ‘by the rood’ means.

Other than that ’tis a good adventure story.
Happy Reading!

Before I read this, I had thought that the books Kidnapped, Treasure Island,etc. were the only books written by Robert Louis Stevenson ( I probably ought to do more research before I make assumptions like that 😉 ).

I had thoroughly enjoyed reading Treasure Island, though it’s been several years since I last read it, I can still remember vividly what happened in that adventure.
The Black Arrow is just as well written,if not better.
I enjoy reading books like Howard Pyle’s Robin Hood, or The Merry Adventures Of Robin Hood And His Men (also by Howard Pyle), and so I enjoyed reading The Black Arrow.
It’s a wonderful adventure that keeps you not exactly on the edge of your seat, but more like keeps you reading.
Here’s the cast of main characters:
Richard Shelton is a gentleman who doesn’t use his marbles at times, but always acts like he thinks a gentleman should.He has a traveling companion throughout most of the book that he thinks is a babied boy trying to be a man. He loves Joann, who is his betrothed  damsel in distress (She’s been kidnapped).
John is the babied boy who acts as Richard’s travelling companion.
Joann is his beautiful betrothed.
Lawless is the humorous outlaw that is a part of Ellis Duckworth’s band. He helps Richard out a lot through out the second part of the book.
Ellis Duckworth befriends Richard because he knew Richard’s father (He was murdered), and wants to get revenge on the man who murdered his friend. He commands a small band of outlaws (Kinda like Robin Hood).
Arblaster is the man that Richard steals a ship from, destroys it, and doesn’t make it good until the end of the book, where he saves the man’s life.
Man Tom is Arblaster’s good friend. He, unfortunately, does not survive this book.
The enemy that lurks in the dark and the shadows throughout most of the book is Sir Daniel, who, you will learn, is also the man that had Richard Shelton’s father killed.
Sir Oliver….hhmm. This is a seriously mixed up man. I liked him and I disliked him. (The dislike outweighed the like). He is on Sir Daniel’s side.
Bennet Hatch is a outlaw type man with a heart of gold. I liked him quite a bit and mourned his death at the end of the book. He was, unfortunately, also on Sir Daniel’s side.
Richard Crookback is the young, haughty, duke that is fame and power hungry. He is rather merciless, rude, and yet at the same time he treats those that stand by him with honor (Richard Crookback was an actual person in History, though I hope he didn’t have the same disposition or attitude).
Alicia is Joann’s handmaid. She is quite humorous. She is impatient to get married someday, is very outspoken (makes you wonder at times if she thinks at all before she speaks), and is Lord Risingham’s niece.
Lord Risingham is for Lancaster and is going after Sir Daniel to bring him to justice (The type justice they had then, anyway).
Lord Foxham is also for Lancaster and is also after Sir Daniel, but for a different reason: He stole his charge, Joann. Joann had been under Lord Foxham’s guardianship since she was little bitty and had been well treated. But as she came the age for marrying, she was worth quite a dowry. Sir Daniel kidnapped her so that he can marry her to any rich lord, duke,etc. for a large dowry.
I liked it because it:
Was an excellent adventure!
Was a challenge to understand at times!
I learned a few historical facts from it!
Was humorous!
Was just an excellent book, all around!
I highly recommend you read it!
Enjoy!

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