Robin Hood is my absolute favorite legend of all time, but somehow nobody ever manages to match my idea of him. Far too many insist on making him gritty and morally ambiguous and useless, whereas I see him as a very smart, very righteous man with a great sense of humor. The POINT of Robin Hood is that he's a champion of the poor and the downtrodden, but he never loses his humanity or ability to laugh--and Watson gets that. Additionally, she managed to pack in most of my favorite tidbits of the Robin Hood legend: the Merry Men living around the Greenwood, wearing Lincolnwood green, the cave as the fall-back position, the shooting match where Robin Hood wins a golden arrow, the overarcing ideal of protecting the throne and the kingdom, collecting King Richard's ransom...Robin Hood's friendships feel real, and his relationship with Maid Marian is exceptionally believable.
The story is told by Maid Marian. Growing up as the Norman Lady Marian Fitzwater, her life is bound by the rules of Queen Eleanor of Aquitane's court and her childhood marriage to Sir Hugh of Sencaster. But Hugh's untimely death sunders her expectations of adult life, and her struggle to regain her dower lands shows her that neither her former mother-in-law nor the queen can be trusted. Seeking information about her mil's plans, Marian ventures into Sherwood Forest, looking for the infamous outlaw Robin Hood. The two clash immediately (Marian has pretty privileged views, particularly of the Saxon-Norman conflict), but there is a spark there that neither can deny. Months later, Robin Hood saves her from a forced marriage and the two flee to Sherwood. They have a number of adventures, culminating in a devious plan to snatch back Marian's dower lands.
The writing is ok, the villain fairly ridiculous (definitely the weakest part of the book), the historical knowledge very good, and the emotional lives of the characters very well thought out. It's a slightly uneven book, but it's definitely one of the better perspectives on the Robin Hood legend.