Audiobook review: Richard Armitage reads Robin Hood: The Siege by Simon Guerrier (Big Finish/Tiger Aspect/BBC, 2008)
Robin Hood and the Outlaws are on the run from a gang of mercenaries and are forced to take shelter in the ruins of a castle where soon they are besieged. Robin’s more used to breaking into castles, not defending them. But he also knows this castle – he was apprentice to its lords many years ago, a great family brought to ruin by recent, cruel times … No one has dared set foot within these walls since then. Robin and the Outlaws know there’s no such thing as ghosts. Don’t they?
First off, the description above is incorrect. It’s not “Robin Hood and the Outlaws”, it’s Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, period. BIG difference! The two have put their differences aside and are now allies. Hunted by a group of German mercenaries, they make it to a castle where Robin spent a lot of time in his younger years.
Hungry and exhausted, they barricade themselves inside its walls. There’s no food to be found, but they come across a number of wine bottles, and Guy, having been raised a gentleman, knows just the right way of getting them open. (No, not a corkscrew.) They get drunk together, fall asleep and wake up the next day and try to defend themselves against the mercenaries, who were hired by Isabella of Gisborne – the Sheriff of Nottingham – who also turns up.
Trying not to spoil the ending, I won’t say what happens to them, what they do or anything like that. The majority of the story is just a couple of guys couped up inside a castle in Loughborough (pronounced “luff-bruh”) anyway.
There’s not much to say about the voices and characterisation, because there are not that many characters in this story as there were in the previous Robin Hood audiobook read by Richard Armitage, and besides, there’s not much to add to what I’ve already gushed over. The man’s a genius! There’s Robin, clearly, and Guy, and the steely edge of Isabella … and (personal favourite) the German mercenary who shouts over the wall. I was stuck in a queue trying to get home from work and sat in the car giggling merrily away, wondering if he will be donning the same accent in Captain America (playing a Nazi and all).
In fact, it wasn’t just the German accent that sent me howling. The bit where they get drunk is HILARIOUS. Just a couple of guys in medieval Britain, getting sloshed on old wine – it’s bloody brilliant, slurring and all. Richard, you marvellous man! You really ought to do some more comedy, because you’re actually really good at it! The third thing that tickled my funny bone is when Robin drags Guy out of the river. OHHH the innuendo! It’s homoerotic symbolism at its very best – if only you have a mind dirty enough to see (hear) it. I half expected them to start snogging, but alas, it was just a question of rescuing from a river. Naww.
If I have to choose between the two audiobooks, this one and The Witchfinders, my vote is for The Siege. While there are fewer characters and the tempo for the most part is slower, the way it gets inside Guy’s head and shows the “Good Guy” is wonderful. It’s like reading the very best kind of fanfic, and you feel like you’re in an actual episode of Robin Hood. The fact that Richard Armitage’s narration is so full of life and charm helps, certainly, but oh … I can listen to this story over and over. Actually, I already have. Now I just need to listen to more of his audio work. It’s very addictive! 🙂
5 out of 5 bottles.