Book Jacket

 

rank 3253
word count 76708
date submitted 01.02.2010
date updated 15.02.2010
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, History, Comedy
classification: moderate
complete

Robin Who

Andrew Fish

A time-travel comedy adventure that brings a new slant to the Robin Hood legend.

 

Robin Hood was a crook! But was he as good a crook as he's cracked up to be? That's what Erasmus Hobart, teacher of history and physics wants to find out. In this, his first adventure, Erasmus takes his time-travelling privy back to mediaeval Nottingham in his quest for knowledge. But with homicidal knights, amorous female outlaws and mischievous squirrels all proving an obstacle to his progress can he really get to the truth and still get back in time to mark 4A's history homework? A comic fantasy writer in the tradition of Adams, Pratchett and Holt, Andrew Fish brings a new slant to the classic legend.

 
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tags

adventure, comedy, douglas adams, history, pratchett, robin hood, time travel

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Chapters

6

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Erasmus examined his surroundings with disdain. If he’d been asked to rate the dungeon he was in he wouldn’t have given it five stars - three rats would have been more appropriate. This was not because he thought it was fairly average for mediaeval accommodation, but because that’s how many rats he’d counted in the first few minutes of his confinement. The straw didn’t show any obvious evidence of housekeeping and, with the only light coming through the grille of the trapdoor above, the view was little to write home about. What made it worse was the fact he had to share: there were at least half a dozen prisoners in the pit and, going by the smell, some of them had been there for some time.

An old man with an unkempt beard sat in a corner staring at the wall. After a while he began to argue with it, and two other men, sitting quietly together in a corner, shook their heads with sad familiarity.

Erasmus himself was sat in the middle of the room where he had landed. He was still winded from the fall but, surprisingly, his arms and legs seemed intact. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, the first thing he noticed was that the dungeon probably merited a higher rating on his rat scale and the second was that the straw seemed somewhat unevenly distributed, with a greater part of it piled underneath the trapdoor. Obviously, somebody had moved the straw into place in order to spare any subsequent unfortunates the same pains they themselves had experienced.

He looked around the dungeon, trying to identify a likely candidate for his mysterious benefactor. There was a young man sitting in one corner, mending his boots with something that appeared to be rat-gut and a needle improvised from a bone; a surly, bearded man who glared at everything – rats, people and walls, but made no attempt to argue with anything and, surprisingly, a young woman, who sat patiently at one side of the room, with a smile which spoke of someone who knew something nobody else did. Feeling that a bit of conversation that wasn’t punctuated with sword-thrusts might be nice and that he probably ought to get away from the trapdoor before the next arrival, Erasmus stood up, made a show of tidying the straw for the next visitor then, still limping slightly from the impact, joined the woman by the wall.

‘Afternoon,’ he greeted her casually. ‘Mind if I join you?’

‘It don’t look like I’ve got much choice,’ said the woman, ‘us being stuck in the same ‘ole an’ all.’

‘I can sit over there if you’d prefer,’ said Erasmus, pointing to where the old man was crouching by the opposite wall. Having had no satisfaction in his argument, he was now picking up loose pieces of straw and making a little mound next to his feet.

‘Sit where you bleeding like,’ said the woman. ‘I don’t give a tinker’s cuss.’ Erasmus suspected the woman probably wasn’t responsible for the impromptu crash-mat.

‘Have you been here long?’ he said.

‘That’s an old one. Why didn’t you start with “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”’

‘That’s an old one where I come from too,’ said Erasmus. ‘Sorry, I’m not trying to – ’ He searched his mind for a mediaeval equivalent for ‘chat you up’.

‘Get in me britches?’ the woman provided.

‘I was going for something a little more polite.’

‘Polite,’ the woman laughed. ‘You’re a poshun, aren’t you? What they stick you in ‘ere for – you eat with one of them new-fangled fork things?’

‘I’m sorry?’ Erasmus was genuinely confused.

‘They hung a man for that a few months back,’ the woman continued. ‘Only things made by God should touch ‘is bounty they said. ‘Course, ‘e was eating the King’s deer at the time, so that might have ‘ad something to do with it. Personally, I don’t see what’s wrong with ‘em.’

‘With what? Deer?’

‘Forks, of course. I mean you eat your potage with a spoon, don’t you – you aren’t expected to scoop it up with your fingers and I’d love to see the man who could cut a loaf of bread without a knife.’

‘There are some,’ said Erasmus, unable to resist the automatic urge to educate people.

‘You what? You’re pulling my leg.’

‘In China,’ said Erasmus. ‘They focus all their energy into the edge of their hand and use the force to split logs.’

‘China? That in foreign?’

Erasmus tried to think what the woman would recognise as a name for China. ‘Cathay?’ he hazarded – she shook her head. ‘Yes, it’s foreign,’ he said.

‘Know a bit about foreign, do you?’

‘We travel a lot where I come from.’

‘Well you ain’t gonna get much travelling done in ‘ere. You ever seen a cell like this?’

‘Not from the inside, no,’ said Erasmus. ‘We’re a bit more civilized where I come from.’

‘Sounds like you chose to come to the wrong country. Mind you, it’s not all bad.’

‘No?’

‘No, sometimes the potage has fresh carrot in it.’

‘Oh,’ said Erasmus.

The woman looked him up and down appraisingly.

‘You know, you can get in me britches if you want,’ she said quietly. ‘I reckon a woman ought to be glad to have a civilized man like you. Better than the rough sort you get round ‘ere, anyway.’

Erasmus flushed red and, although he was sure it was too dark for the woman to tell, she seemed somehow aware of his embarrassment.

‘Sorry,’ she said, ‘is a woman offering herself not done where you come from?’

Erasmus thought briefly of the culture of twenty-first century England where some women would probably dance naked if it got them on Big Brother. He thought about trying to explain that they simply didn’t offer themselves to poor teachers with no prospect of fame and fortune, but decided against it. ‘Not really,’ he said.

‘Fair enough,’ said the woman. What are you in for? My name’s Maude, by the way.’

‘Erasmus,’ said Erasmus.

‘Is that a name or a crime?’

‘It’s my name. I’m in for –’ Erasmus paused; he wasn’t exactly sure why he was in a dungeon. ‘I think I embarrassed a knight,’ he continued.

‘Embarrassment, eh! Telling bawdy jokes, were you?’

‘No. I think it’s because I made him fall off of his horse – must be a couple of years ago.’

‘And you’ve been locked up for that? God, they’ll put you away for anything now. Who was it?’

‘I don’t know his name. Tallish chap, though, well-built.’

‘They all look like that – built like brick shithouses with brains to match.’

‘He had blonde hair and a scar on his cheek – that was the second time I saw him, anyway.’

‘What? His hair changed colour?’

Erasmus shook his head. ‘No,’ he said. ‘The scar was new. Looked like he’d been slashed across the cheek.’

Maude looked at him thoughtfully. ‘That’s Gisburne, that is,’ she said. ‘You get on the wrong side of him he won’t forget it. They call ‘im Guy the Gamekeeper.’

‘Gamekeeper?’

‘He kills poachers for sport. Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret, m’duck, any enemy of Gisburne is a friend o’ mine and I think friends ought to help each other, don’t you?’

Erasmus nodded. ‘Quite,’ he said.

‘Well, I’m going to be busted out of here in a few hours – I might be able to get you out as well.’

Erasmus’ eyebrows raised in curiosity. The name Gisburne had rung a bell.

‘Who’s coming?’ he said. ‘Is it Robin Hood?’

‘Robin Hood?’ Maude chuckled, a sound not dissimilar to the clucking of a broody hen.

‘He does exist, doesn’t he?’ said Erasmus – it would be a dreadful disappointment to find that Robin was a legend even now.

‘Oh, he exists,’ said Maude. ‘I just don’t think he’s the kind of person you want to rescue you.’ She ignored Erasmus’ attempts to interrupt with questions and continued. ‘Now, when the girls get here, try not to say too much – ‘specially to Alice – and I might be able to bring you along.’

‘Alice?’

‘One of the girls, but she’s a little enthusiastic with her dagger when there’s men around. You keep quiet and she’ll probably let you get away with your balls.’

‘Ah,’ said Erasmus, nodding. ‘So what’s Robin Hood like?’

‘What is this obsession with Robin Hood?’

‘He’s a legend where I come from.’

‘Well he isn’t a legend here and, if you don’t want a nice high singing voice, I wouldn’t mention his name when Alice is around.’

‘Why?’

‘Ask a lot of questions, don’t you? I don’t know what it’s like in foreign, but over here that can shorten your life.’

‘Shorten it?’

‘By about a head’s height. Now, d’you say it was afternoon when you got ‘ere?’

‘Yes.’

‘Well, we got a couple of hours then. You sure you don’t want to –’

‘Thanks, but not right now.’

‘Suit yourself. Guess I’ll get a bit of kip then.’

Erasmus leaned back against the wall and breathed deeply. He was definitely in the right time, but things weren’t turning out quite the way he’d planned. As he closed his eyes, the old man picked up his little collection of straw, wiped up some rat-droppings with it then walked over to the middle of the room and dumped it on the pile.

Chapters

6

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Tod Schneider wrote 696 days ago

This is great fun, really nicely written. I appreciate the dry humor and you launch the story with such a great chase scene. Well done!
-- Tod
http://authonomy.com/books/40646/the-lost-wink/

fledglingowl wrote 698 days ago

Andrew,
Congratulations on publication. Well deserved. Love the humor and the magic privy, so much nicer than Dr. Who's transport. High stars.
Good luck on your writing,
Janet
The Milche Bride
Clarissa's Kitchen

iandsmith wrote 972 days ago

Well done, Andrew. Authonomy blog 'one to watch' today! So that's what I'm doing..watching it that is.

Burgio wrote 1471 days ago

This is a unique story. And a funny one. You have a good character in Erasmus. He's likable and sympathetic because he may be well in over his head having transported himself back back to medieval England. Writing dialogue is a strength for you. Love the accents. Bottom line: this is a good read. I’m adding this to my shelf. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Steve.Tee wrote 1472 days ago

Beware the pitch invader!
Being Authonomy's #1 common potato and professional spam doctor, trust me, you must master the basic technique of saying “SHELVED!” as often as possible in order to grab the new members. That's how one climbs in ranking - gathering exposure though comments won’t help better your novel but it certainly helps better your novel’s position.

I’m not interested in your comments on my book when you get the chance; all I want is your shelf.

Love Sooty Max.

soutexmex wrote 1472 days ago

Reminds me of Bill & Ted's Big Adventure. I can go with the short pitch but the long pitch? Drop everything after the last question mark. Being Authonomy's #1 commentator and amateur pitch doctor, trust me, spend some time on your pitches; I cannot overemphasize how you need to master this basic sales technique to grab the casual reader. That's how you climb in ranking to gather more exposure and comments to better your novel. SHELVED!

I can use your comments on my book when you get the chance. Cheers!

JC
The Obergemau Key
Authonomy's #1 rated commentator

Keefieboy wrote 1473 days ago

Andrew: very clever, funny and entertaining. Shelved.

bigmouth wrote 1476 days ago

A genuinely funny book that would appeal to fans of Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett and Doctor Who.

Fish has written a clever and witty novel that manages not to be smug, a hard trick to pull off. The plot cracks along at a fair pace, is full of brilliant observations and one-liners and plays around with the whole time travel idea brilliantly.

I could see this having considerable commercial appeal as an ongoing series of books. Well worth checking this one out.

WendyB wrote 1477 days ago

Very funny.
Funny premise, witty protagonist, and I even like the English schoolboys.

I haven't gotten to Robin yet, but I'm going to shelf this so I can get back to do it justice later. I think I may read ALL of this one
Bravo!

Oh, incidentally...I seriously doubt that an English schoolmaster would drop his 'thats' in order to be more colloquial. You have it right. Don't change it.

Wendy Bertsch
(Once More...From The Beginning)

Joss64 wrote 1478 days ago

Backed with pleasure! Jocelyn Enid Morris (A Bore No More)

lynn clayton wrote 1478 days ago

Oh, an intelligent, hilarious, learned change from vampires. A mingling of two great legends. Brilliant. Backed. Lynn

yasmin esack wrote 1482 days ago

Dear Andrew
This is smashing! I loved every line and it's so clever. Hope you get a chance to look at mine. I was truly caught with the parallel universe and time travel thing.

Backed with uttmost pleasure

Francesco wrote 1484 days ago

Backed with pleasure! Good Luck!!
A look at Sicilian Shadows would be greatly appreciated.
Frank.
If you back my work, you may also want to approach BJD (a big supporter of Sicilian Shadows) for a further read and possible backing of your book.

lookinup wrote 1491 days ago

A time-travel privy - incredible - and Lady Godiva coming out from nowhere of all people. An enjoyable read, tops even Dr. Who I might think. An interesting spin on a movie. Backed.

Catherine (The Golden Thread)

Ulysses Q wrote 1512 days ago

Hey Andrew,

Read your novel - Good Stuff. Backed it and I hope you do well with the thing. A couple of comments - not that you asked for any - and certain that my opinion on the matter carries little weight - but feel safe in giving them as you appear to be located in sunny England while I am ensconced across the pond and don't think you will jump on a plane just to pop over and bop me on the nose. It feels a little slow, plodding. If you could quicken the pace - one possibility is divide the chapters up - make them shorter overall and - a step further - make them progressively shorter as you build towards climaxes and then letting them out again as you settle things back down only to build again. It's subliminal but it can help to create the illusion of a quickening just as the editing in a motion picture can change the rhythm of a sequence. Also the addition of a time element - I know the thing is chock full of time - something like a ticking clock - the countdown where, if things aren't fixed by high noon then history is mucked up for good - to motivate the protagonist and create a sense of impending danger. One way this could be achieved is have him carry around a little handheld device of his creation - some sort of history continuum calculator, or HCC, that gives him an up to the minute readout of how badly out of whack things really are and how much time he has left to sort things - kind of a timeline GPS.

The only other thing I'd like to have seen more of is the loopy circular logic of time travel physics - could be done as narrative asides between or at the head of those shortened chapters - a shorthand example would be the hitchhikers guide entries from the hitchhikers guide to the - well - you know...

Anyway - sorry to be such a bore with all of this but I wouldn't have taken the time to make the suggestions if I didn't think the work held merit. It does. So if after reading this you still feel like popping cross the pond and bopping me well - all I can say is - there's more than thirteen colonies now so you'll have to find me.

best,

ulysses

Jared wrote 1526 days ago

Andrew, you hooked me at ' time-travelling privy' - wonderful. I'm loving this. So much going on, a truly fantastic story-line, hitch-hiking squirrels - a riot. The footnote to chapter 5 - 'Tough on crime, tough on the courses of crime was the slogan of the day' made me howl. This is a book to keep at the bedside, a book to dip into in an idle moment, a book to treasure. I'm strongly recommending this - and I read a lot of books on this site - and backing it. Absolutely.
Jared
Mummy's Boy.

Andrew Fish wrote 1527 days ago

I've edited down the quotient of 'that's.' Not as simple as it looks because whilst all of them are grammatically sound (and, in fact, would have been grammatically necessary only a few decades ago) the tide of fashion has not rendered every instance of the word superfluous.

I've left in the 'in fact's (not really that many of those) and the 'you fool's. In the latter instance this is a spoken malaprop, much like Wodehouse uses with Ukridge (referring to everyone as 'old horse') and it's unlikely in the stress of the moment that Godiva would reach for a more extensive litany of offence.

erict wrote 1527 days ago

This is well done. I think that the edit suggestions are worthwhile - My comment is the repeat of You fools two para's apart in the first chapter, but other than that - spot on stuff.

ET

Nick Poole2 wrote 1531 days ago

Starts well, shades of Dr Who.

Ominous silence? Steps in shit. Something moved..?

Then hooves.

You do this well, I think. Lady Godiva?

Yep.

"Bloody peeping Alfreds"...look forward to your explanation of that!

Okay, only thing missing here is any real sense of danger. Erasmus doesn't seem genuinely concerned at all.

But your Alfred explanation didn't disappoint.

Bravo!! This will do well.

Beval wrote 1532 days ago

I have to say I agree about the "that" word, but having said that:-), this is such a lot of fun and full of the most marvellous jokes.
A privy as a time machine...who couldn't love it.
I like Erasmus as well, a great charater. I love his assumptions about the times he finds himself.
Backed with pleasure.

paxie wrote 1533 days ago

Andrew
Do you think you need the word 'that' in the examples below:-

He looked back to make sure (that) his time machine didn’t look too out of place........glanced back? you have looked and look on the same line.....?

affairs of the type (that) you would normally associate with rich

fact ( that )she was mounted on a chestnut mare

by the fact (that) they couldn’t look at Godiva

he realised (that) this was because it was, in fact, the wrong key.

Now that I think of it, the word 'fact' seems ever popping up........

Anyway, fabulous read....You have the same sense of humour as me.....I love the premise......Time travel novels hold no bars.....everything is credible, (in my view)...A racy read

Happy to shelf.... Good luck with this........

Richard Daybell wrote 1538 days ago

You have a dandy sense of humor and a fun premise to apply it to. Good, witty dialogue and interesting characters. Good luck.

Richard Daybell
Zombie Jamboree

Debra wrote 1539 days ago

What a great premise and blending of legends. Lady Godiva. Robin Hood. With a touch of Doctor Who? Hilarious fun! Best wishes!

Debra

zenup wrote 1540 days ago

Great cover and title, very catchy. Privy as camouflage for time travel machine seems 100% more likely than the TARDIS, haha. My feeling, in Ch 1, is that a tightening of the prose could help the humour, but ... fun idea & execution. Backed.

Jed Oliver wrote 1540 days ago

This is wonderful! Great humorous writing, and time travel on top of it! I must come back to it, but couldn't wait to back your story. This should go far, it is so completely entertaining. I really love your sense of humour, it is completely charming. I sincerely wish you the very best with this book! Backed. Best Regards, jedward (Knut)

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