Whether or not you share an affinity for the legend of Robin Hood or Medieval England, there is no denying N.B. Dixon’s passion and dedication to the subject. The raw amount of historical knowledge injected into Heir of Locksley is not only admirable, but equally salubrious. It is comparable, if not superior, to many of the great historical fiction works from renowned authors, such as Diana Gabaldon or Philippa Gregory. Heir of Locksley doesn’t dwell in the shadows. It is an independent effigy worthy of his place on any store shelf.
Dixon’s style of prose is completely infallible. The book is substantively well edited, showing salient signs that it has been rewritten countless times. There are no clunky sentences, and the language boasts a magical rhythm, which captivates and enthrals. Without a doubt, Heir of Locksley is one of the great monuments of independent literature.
The story itself is superb, whether you’re familiar with Robin Hood or not. Heir of Locksley begins early in Robin’s childhood, following his relationships with many important characters of legend and detailing his many hard decisions that forged him into the man of legend. He is the heir to a rich manor, but resents everything his father’s status evokes, for the rich are rude and unforgiving to the lower-class. In contrast, due to losing his mother at a young age and being raised by his maid, Robin has developed a sense of empathy and kindness, growing to resent his nobility. He would much rather spend his time with a bow in his hand, or mingling among the peasants who call him their friend. Eventually, however, Robin must choose between a life of wealth or peasantry, yet both paths meander toward dangerous consequences. With plenty of twists and turns throughout, this is not just yet another retelling of the eternal legend; rather, this is a fresh take on tired tropes.
Heir of Locksley possesses an ensemble cast, all of whom leap off the page. They are all poignant, written with such finesse that any one of them could take control of a scene and carry the narrative on their back. None of them drag behind. Their emotions are authentic, and their personal histories of Shakespearean quality, particularly Gilbert White-Hands, who is guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye.
An insightful decision on Dixon’s behalf sees almost half of the book depicting Robin in his younger years, whereupon many seeds are sown for future encounters. The choice to structure the story with this split narrative eliminates the need for over-zealous exposition, opting to show the reader all of his early struggles, allowing Robin’s legacy to develop at a natural pace. It would have been far easier to simply hand-wave Robin’s genesis in the favour of his more famous years, but Dixon’s execution is more surgical, offering the reader an extended account of his childhood trials, his many relationships, and his evolution into a figure of history.
Some tentative readers might note that Heir of Locksley is marketed as having LBGTQ themes and might regard the concept of a bisexual Robin Hood as absurd, yet I must stress that Dixon’s execution of these themes is both intelligent and appropriate. Do not make the erroneous assumption that Heir of Locksley is an alternative romance novel. Nothing could be further from the truth. Robin instead—in addition to having various heterosexual relationships—develops a raw and passionate relationship with a male counterpart, which I found very reminiscent of a Homeric character. Such a relationship is beyond infatuation, love or sex, and is far more indicative of loyal compassion, forged from friendship and respect. It is honest, beautiful and authentic.
I would highly recommend Heir of Locksley to any enthusiast of historical fiction. Every facet of N. B. Dixon’s style is outstanding, and it all comes together in a uniform novel that deserves the utmost praise. There is nothing boring or cliché here, only unmitigated talent, and I couldn’t be more excited for Dixon’s upcoming sequel, Knight of Locksley.