Set in 12th century England, Greenwode is told in alternating third-person viewpoints. Our main characters first meet when peasant boy Rob takes a short cut through Sherwood Forest on an errand from his father, who is one of the kingís foresters. Rob rescues Gamelyn, an injured boy his own age who has been thrown from his horse. In the weeks that follow, Gamelyn and Robís older sister Marion become good friends even though Gamelyn is the youngest son of the Norman overlord Sir Ian. Robís parents tolerate the friendship because they sense that Gamelynís fate is important to the fates of their children, but they have much to hide. Unbeknownst to their Christian overlords, they are the pagan priest and priestess who conduct the rituals of the old religion in their village of Loxley.
Rob and Gamelyn exist in a state of uneasy attraction-hostility, though Gamelyn wishes that Rob liked him better. Rob is keenly aware of the divide between peasant and nobleman. Gamelyn worries about being a Christian and befriending pagans. Meanwhile, he has his own problems with a jealous elder brother who threatens him as their fatherís health fails. He must look to his own future.
Everything intensifies as his kinswoman the abbess arrives at his fatherís castle. She plans to guide him toward his spiritual destiny as a Catholic priest Ė something he would have welcomed before realizing his intense attraction to Rob. Gamelyn doesnít know the abbessís secret mission is to hunt down pagans.
Greenwode is a breathtaking emotional version of the Robin Hood legend that imagines Robin and his traditional sworn enemy Guy of Gisborne (aka Gamelyn) as lovers instead of rivals. The book explores the cultural and religious upheaval between peasants versus nobility, oppressed (Celts and Anglo Saxons) versus oppressors (Normans), and pagans versus Christians.
All of the characters are a three-dimensional mix of good and bad traits with some terrific supporting characters in Marion and in Gamelynís jealous brother. Rob and Gamelyn are fascinating in their differences, their mutual passion, and their conflicting loyalties.
Just so you know, Greenwode does not have the traditional Happy-Ever-After ending, and in fact ends in a very dark place. Think of it as the first half of a bigger story to be taken up in its second and final book Shirewode, which will give the characters the happy ending they deserve. My one minor problem with Greenwode centered on the intricacies of the pagan religion and some prophetic visions. Sometimes the supernaturalism slowed the pace a little; other times, they created a chilling and suspenseful mood.
Type of Romance: LGBT Gay Romance, Young Adult Romance
Author: J. Tullos Hennig
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Subgenre: Historical romance, Robin Hood legend
Setting: 12th century England
Length: 146,031 words
Sex scenes: Level 1 - none. See "Levels of Explicitness" in Related Links below.
Viewpoint: omniscient with third-person alternating viewpoints from major and minor characters
Note: I received this book via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for this review from author or publisher. Look on Amazon.com for Greenwode (The Wode Book 1)