Lionclaw (Tales of Rowan Hood Series #2)

Lionclaw (Tales of Rowan Hood Series #2)

4.3 3
by Nancy Springer

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Lionel is seven feet of pure coward. Banished by his warrior father for refusing to learn to fight, Lionel found refuge in the woods of Sherwood Forest, where he joined the misfit band of teens led by Rowan Hood, daughter of Robin. Now, a year later, his father has been taken prisoner by Robin Hood, and Lionel is determined to make peace. But when Lionclaw spots his…  See more details below


Lionel is seven feet of pure coward. Banished by his warrior father for refusing to learn to fight, Lionel found refuge in the woods of Sherwood Forest, where he joined the misfit band of teens led by Rowan Hood, daughter of Robin. Now, a year later, his father has been taken prisoner by Robin Hood, and Lionel is determined to make peace. But when Lionclaw spots his son among outlaws, he vows revenge. Suddenly Sherwood is crawling with danger and Lionel wants nothing more than to turn and run. But when a couple of bounty hunters capture Rowan and use her as bait, the lion in Lionel is awakened, along with the courage to stand up to his father.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
In this sequel to Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest, Lionel, the awkward, self-pitying son of Sir Roderick Lionclaw is an unlikely hero. He is uncommonly tall, uncommonly awkward except when it comes to his music and he speaks to his companions in the most patronizing of tones. His father has banished him from the castle because he would rather play his harp than fight. Lionel assumes his father is right, that he is an absolute coward. He finds out the truth when his father threatens the life of his true friend, Rowan Hood, daughter of Robin Hood. Without thinking of the dangers, he sets out to rescue her and in so doing, sees himself in a whole new and more realistic way. The author uses lively words and apt similes to make life in Sherwood Forest appear clearly in the reader's mind. Ms. Springer also has written two books that look at characters from Arthurian legend, Mordred and Morgan le Fay, with a fresh eye. 2002, Philomel Books,
— Janet Crane Barley
In last year's appealing Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest (reviewed in KLIATT in May 2001), Springer cleverly imagined an intrepid daughter of Robin Hood who takes refuge in Sherwood Forest and creates a fugitive band of her own. This sequel takes up the tale from the point of view of a member of this band, the huge but gentle minstrel, Lionel. This seven-foot-tall 15-year-old loves music, not battle, and he puts on a "whining sissy act" that so disgusts his father that he banishes his son and sends the bounty hunter Guy of Gisborn into the forest to kill him. This vicious hunter sets steel traps and endangers Rowan Hood and the other band members too—Etty, a brave runaway princess; Rook, a wild boy; and loyal Tykell, half-wolf, half-dog. Robin Hood tries to lure Guy away from Sherwood Forest, but he is not easily tricked. And even though Lionel abhors violence, he discovers he can fight ferociously in defense of those he cares for when Rowan is caught in a trap and they are captured. Lionel's music is as important as his strength, however, and he uses his harp and his voice to summon spirits from the woods to heal Rowan. As in Michael Cadnum's recent Forbidden Forest: The Story of Little John and Robin Hood (reviewed in KLIATT in May 2002), which tells Little John's story (a sequel to Cadnum's Sheriff of Nottingham tale, In a Dark Wood), it's fun to consider the legends of Sherwood Forest from different points of view. Springer is a fine writer who enjoys turning stereotypes on their heads, and her feminist take on the Robin Hood legend is full of action and adventure. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2002, PenguinPutnam, Philomel, 160p.,
— Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-The main character in this sequel to Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest (Philomel, 2001) is Lionel, the timid son of Lord Roderick Lionclaw. He is a harp-playing bard who refuses to fight or act more "manly" despite his large size. When his father disowns him and puts a bounty on his head, Lionel hides out with Rowan in the forest. Rowan's band comes under attack, but won't leave the forest despite Robin Hood's urgings. When Rowan is caught by the bounty hunters, Lionel is ready to give his own life to save her. In the end, Lord Lionclaw does not accept his son, but he doesn't kill him either, and Lionel is proud of himself for overcoming his fears. The plot is slight, and readers are sometimes dropped into action scenes without being quite sure what is going on. Familiarity with the first book is necessary in order to have any understanding of this one. Lionel's development is predictable, and he is so annoyingly quivery and wimpy for most of the novel that he isn't a likable or sympathetic character. Other members of Rowan's band are intriguing, though, and their stories could produce interesting sequels if they are thoroughly developed.-Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Springer revisits Sherwood Forest with her second chronicle of Rowan Hood (2001), although this time, Rowan and her father, Robin, are minor characters. Like the first in the series, Lionclaw deals with the relationship between parent and child, specifically a father. Lionel, a gentle giant with harp-playing abilities that charm elves, mistakenly believes that he can win back his father's affection by playing for him. Lionclaw, currently a reluctant guest of Robin and his merry men, is not touched, precipitating a series of events that results in Rowan's capture. Though he has spent his whole life resisting the life of "men," Lionel must choose between his fear of fighting and his love for Rowan. Sound simple? Disappointingly, it is. Springer is obviously writing about issues much deeper than adventure, rescue, and friendship. She raises interesting questions about the roles of fathers and gender: Lionel's father detests his lack of manliness, while Rowan and the princess Ettarde defy any weak female stereotypes. However, this lacks some of the depth that existed in Rowan's story and other Springer works. With a slightly more involved story line, this could have been a perfect recommendation for almost any girl or boy. Should Springer decide to continue this line, her readers deserve the complexity of plot and characterization that she began with. Lionel may save the day, but he alone cannot save this Lionclaw. (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Tales of Rowan Hood Series, #2
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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Chapter 1

Trudging through Sherwood Forest, with his harp nestled like a turtledove in one big hand, Lionel did not even try to be quiet. It was no use. His feet, the size of pony heads in their curly-tipped shoes, would never learn not to scrape and shuffle. His great lumbering body would never learn not to rustle brush and bracken. And his poor muddled head, seven feet above the ground, would never learn not to conk itself on tree limbs. He made a poor excuse for an outlaw, forsooth.

According to his father, he made a poor excuse for a son altogether.

Lionel slowed, gazing up at tall oaks with acorns fattening on their branches, their autumn leaves hanging muted purple, like old royal velvet, in the twilight. Somewhere high in the darkening sky wild geese bayed like hounds, but Lionel barely heard. Instead, he heard in memory his father’s voice: "You disgrace my name. My heir, a sissy, a harp plucker? You are no son of mine. Go. If I see you again, I will kill you."

The words echoed in Lionel’s mind. Yes, kill. His father had really said that.

And meant it. Lionel remembered his father’s eyes narrowed to slits above his beard, remembered the lion growl in his father’s voice. A great lord can, and will, kill whomever he pleases.

My father.

Two years ago he had threatened Lionel with death. On my birthday. Thirteenth. Unlucky number.

Lionel sighed, lowered his gaze from the storm-purple oaks, and trudged on. In the months since another powerful man, the Sheriff of Nottingham, had put a bounty on his head, he had become accustomed to the threat of death. But remembering his father saying You are no son of mine. He had not yet become accustomed to the heartache.

Or the fear. He often quivered with nerves—oversized, sniveling ninny that he knew himself to be—but he had seldom felt such bone-deep terror as now.

But . . . I have to try.

He slogged on, under the oaks, along a ridge, then into thickets of hemlock and holly, their shadows deepening as night fell. Then down into a rocky dell, where ferns brushed his legs, their fronds dry and yellow at this time of year. Lacework leaves as yellow as primroses, as yellow as Lionel’s jerkin; yellow was his favorite color. The butter-bright ferns seemed to glow in the twilight. Gazing at them, Lionel stubbed his toe, stumbled into a boulder, and almost dropped his harp. A blackthorn branch raked his shoulder. His hand, flung out to grab something solid, found only a patch of nettles. "Owww!" he complained.

"Lady have mercy, harper," said a quiet voice in the nightfall. "A deaf man could hear you coming."

Peering into the shadows, Lionel could just make out the gleam of a polished longbow, then behind it the form of a man in green. Uphill from Lionel, motionless and almost invisible amid wild quince and ivy, one of Robin Hood’s men was standing guard duty.

Lionel cringed. "Don’t shoot me!" he squeaked.

In the dusk he could not see the outlaw’s good-humored contempt, but he depended on it, knowing it was there. "Maybe not this time," the man said. "Are you on your way to join the feast?"

Standing still, with the ferns no longer rustling around his shins, Lionel could hear the talk and laughter of the outlaws in their hideout on the other side of the rise.

Seeming to take his silence for ignorance, the guard said, "Robin has brought in a rich lord today, and a dozen of his retainers." To show those whom he robbed that he was no common cutthroat, Robin Hood spared their lives but required them to spend a night with him and his band. "We are giving them our best Sherwood Forest hospitality." Illegal venison, in other words, sauced with humiliation. "But the lord seems not to like it."

Lionel nodded and whispered, "Lord Roderick Lionclaw."

"Aye! Who told you?"

"Will Scathelock." All the outlaws were Lionel’s friends, amused by his vast size and timid disposition. "He said Lionclaw fought hard."

"Harder than most, but no match for Robin Hood and his merry men."

Small wonder. Anyone who wanted to join Robin’s band had to take on Robin in single combat. One of the many ironies of Lionel’s life, he considered, was that he had become an outlaw by helping to save Robin Hood’s life, yet he knew himself unworthy to join Robin’s band.

No matter. He gave all his fealty to Rowan: Rowan Hood, daughter of Robin Hood. Without looking, Lionel could feel his strand of the band, the silver gimmal ring, hanging inside his jerkin, over his heart.

"I’m here on an errand," he told the guard.

His own errand. Still, he badly wanted not to disgrace Rowan. Or the others.

The guard nodded. Lionel blundered on.

It was almost dark now. It seemed to Lionel that he tripped over every root and stick and stone in Sherwood Forest getting to the top of the rise. But at last he reached a vantage, a crag, where he could see.

There. Robin’s hollow.

Under the spreading branches of a giant oak, firelight glinted on two score grinning outlaws decked with the loot from the lord’s coffers: fine swords, rich velvets, gold chains. Hoisting flagons of ale, Robin’s men sat one-handedly tossing sacks of gold around the circle, roaring with laughter when they dropped the booty. Their captives, the lord’s men-at-arms, sat among them, huddled like scared rabbits. Lionel could guess their thoughts: They had been defeated in battle. Their hands had been tied; they had been blindfolded and made to ride backward on their own horses, brought to this place against their will. They were not being hurt now, except for their pride, but once Robin released them, would their lord have them flogged? He had been bound and blindfolded and made to ride backward too. They did not dare to look at him.

From the safety of the trees, Lionel looked.

There. Seated in the place of mocking honor, a throne of piled deerskins near the fire, Lord Roderick Lionclaw.

Father . . .

Lionel felt his heart pounding. Had anything changed in two years? Outwardly, no. Tawny in the firelight, his father’s stony face glared out over his jutting beard—the same. His broad-shouldered body, almost as tall as Lionel’s, looked as powerful as ever. His hands, battered in many combats, curled as hard as claws, just the way Lionel remembered them. On his men’s tabards and his own tunic gleamed Lord Roderick’s device, the rampaging golden lion wielding the clawed mace that had made him famous. All the same.

Then Lionel’s gaze shifted as a tall outlaw stood up, his curly cap of golden hair glinting in the firelight, his handsome, weather-tanned face alight with firelight and fun. He wore no looted gold, only his customary Lincoln green, his jaunty cap with a tuft of feathers. "Merry men, a toast!" he cried.

The others quieted, looking up to their leader, Robin Hood.

With solemn drollery Robin turned toward Lord Roderick Lionclaw, raising his flagon. "To the continued very excellent health of our honored guest."

"Hear! Hear!" the outlaws cried as Lionclaw gave Robin a glare like a blaze of dragon flame.

Robin seemed not to notice Lionclaw’s fiery stare at all. "My good lord," he said in tender tones, "you have not touched your dinner. Are you not feeling well?"

Lionclaw told him, "Go to hell."

The outlaws hooted. Looking on, Lionel felt his gut tighten into a Gordian knot of mixed emotions. He knew what it was to suffer taunts. Yet as often as not, it had been his father who had taunted him.

Robin’s mouth pulled down in clownish distress. "My lord is not merry? But consider, my lord, the good you have done this day! Starving peasants will be fed with the gold you have so willingly given—"

"Go fry in hell!"

Lord Lionclaw’s yell echoed in the oaks and in Lionel’s worst memories, making him shiver. He wanted to crawl away and hide.

I’m a fool to be here.

But—maybe not. Two years ago, when his father had cast him out, he had not known what his singing could do. He had not known that there was enchantment in his voice that could hold a guild hall full of armed men in his power, making them forget their weapons. He had not known that he could sing the badgers out of their dens, silence the nightingales, coax wolf and deer to stand side by side. He had not known that the beauty of his voice could even call forth the aelfe, the immortal denizens of the forest, from their hollow hills to listen to him.

Maybe, just maybe, if he sang for his father . . . something might change.

Please, dear Lady, let him . . . let him hear me. . . .

His father’s roar echoed away. Robin stood grinning but silent. All the men in the hollow, intent on Robin and Lionclaw, sat silent, awaiting whatever might happen next.

NOW. There would never be a better chance. Do it!

Shaking, Lionel set his back against an oak for support. He breathed in. Gently he touched his harp, and the first golden ringing notes quieted his trembling, made him forget the sting of nettles and mockery and hunger, made him forget his father’s fury. He cradled his harp, looked out of darkness straight into his father’s fiery face, stroked a strong chord out of the harp, lifted his voice, and sang:

"In a hollow hill of wild Sherwood

There lives a maiden fair and free,

An archer with a healer’s hand

A shining strand in an outlaw band. . . ."

Praise be to the Lady, his voice flew true, like a golden falcon, like the fragrance of wild roses, like a messenger angel in the night. And his harp strings rang true and honey sweet.

". . . This maiden outlaw bold and good

With a wolf who gives her fealty,

Daughter of fitting fatherhood:

Rowan Hood of the rowan wood."

In the firelit clearing around the great oak tree, outlaws stood or sat motionless, their flagons forgotten in their hands, their faces rapt and turned toward Lionel. Their mouths sagged open, softly agape. But Lionel saw no such softening in his father’s face.

Go down there. Let him see you. Face him.

But he could not. Not yet. The thought set him to trembling again. He had to close his eyes against the sight of his father’s stony face in order to sing on.

Singing to the dark, he finished the ballad of Rowan Hood and started another, the old, old song that had been his mother’s favorite:

"Alas, my love, you do me wrong

To cast me off discourteously . . ."

A lion’s roar of rage shattered his song, shook him worse than an earthquake, shook the branches above him. His hands faltered to a halt on his harp, and his throat tightened so badly that he could not sing, only squeak like a mouse. He knew that wordless bellow, although he had hoped never to hear it again.

"How dare you, sirrah!" Words, now, distorted by his father’s fury.

With the shards of his song dying around him, Lionel looked. At his father. Lord Roderick Lionclaw, his face blood red in the firelight and creased in an agony of wrath. Lord Roderick Lionclaw, on his feet and lunging toward the darkness. "Churl!" Lionel’s father roared, choking with rage. "Shameless! No son of mine! I will kill you!"

Half a dozen of Robin’s men leapt to grasp Lord Roderick by the arms. Ablaze with fury, he threw two of them off and surged forward as if the other four were no more than fleas clinging to his hide. Outlaws cried out and seized their quarterstaffs. Linnets and thrushes cried out and flew up from their nests. It seemed to Lionel that the very oaks trembled. He shook so hard, he had to clutch his harp to keep from dropping it.

Three outlaws with quarterstaffs at the ready stood before Lord Roderick, warning him back, but he glared past them at the night, seeming not to see the cudgels. "Disgrace to my name!" he bellowed. "Show yourself!"

Face him, stand up to him! Be a man for once.

"Dare to show yourself, sirrah!" Throwing off the outlaws who held his massive warrior arm, Lionel’s father shook his fist as if swinging his clawed mace. "I—will—kill—you!"

Lionel heard no more. Without knowing how his feet carried him, how he stood to run, or where he was going, he fled.

His throat had closed. He felt as if he would never be able to sing again.

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Meet the Author

Nancy Springer has published forty novels for adults, young adults and children. In a career beginning shortly after she graduated from Gettysburg College in 1970, Springer wrote for ten years in the imaginary realms of mythological fantasy, then ventured on contemporary fantasy, magical realism, and women's fiction before turning her attention to children's literature. Her novels and stories for middle-grade and young adults range from contemporary realism, mystery/crime, and fantasy to her critically acclaimed novels based on the Arthurian mythos, I AM MORDRED: A TALE OF CAMELOT and I AM MORGAN LE FAY. Springer's children's books have won her two Edgar Allan Poe awards, a Carolyn W. Field award, various Children's Choice honors and numerous ALA Best Book listings. Her most recent series include the Tales of Rowan Hood, featuring Robin Hood’s daughter, and the Enola Holmes mysteries, starring the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes.

Ms. Springer lives in East Berlin, Pennsylvania.

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Lionclaw 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
GuardianMom More than 1 year ago
Rowan Hood has a very small part in this book. Lionel is a 15 year old boy who has the hots for Rowan. Why wouldn't he. She is a survivor with a few drops of magic in her blood. Lionel has been raised with an abusive father who has power and money. His father wants to kill Lionel because he is not the killing machine his father thinks would be honorable considering his size. Instead Lionel is consideer a wimp and acts wimpy bringing on more abuse. Once Lionel is banished from his father's castle, Lionel is forced to grow up, to accept the man he is and then evenualy show his father the man he is and let his father determine if he is worthy to call himself Lionel's father.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that Lionell is a true friend to all of the gang but he says he would only kill for Rowan and I think that is ok. She saved his live he saves hers and go Rook man he can run.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lionel says that he will kill only for Rowan. Lionel sometimes portrayes himself as a weakling, a baby, a ninny, and i sometimes get frustrated with him. The plot is great, but i didn't really like how the characters were portrayed.