Monday, 23 November 2015

Bows Against the Barons by Geoffrey Trease reviewed by Karen Bush

Geoffrey Trease wrote over 90 books, but the two which I vividly remember reading when I was a kid were Cue for Treason, and Bows Against the Barons - probably his two most popular with other readers too. And with such good memories that I later sought them out to read again as an adult. Revisiting childhood books isn't always the joy anticipated - sometimes you find yourself wondering what on earth you saw in them: I'm still quivering with the aftershock of picking up JLS again. But Cue for Treason didn't disappoint, and neither, now I have finally tracked down a copy, does Bows Against the Barons. It's a Robin Hood book, which along with the Lancelyn-Green tales and the numerous Robin Hood TV series and films that I was addicted to in my yoof, eventually contributed to me eventually buying a bow of my own and teaching myself to shoot, much to my Mum's horror (I was fourteen at the time, and we didn't know anyone who shot).
It was Trease's first book - and it doesn't show, not a bit: it was published in 1934 and very gently revised and reprinted again on its 30th anniversary with some specially commissioned cracking illustrations by C. Walter Hodges. The edition I tracked down is a reprint of the reprint - and although eighty-one years old now, the book is still a real gem which has lost none of its sparkle. Its a terrific adventure yarn, and the writing is as fresh as ever - there is nothing dated about it other than the period it is set in. It is every bit as good as I remembered it - it is just a shame that while Cue for Treason has made it into e-book format, Bows Against the Barons is still only available in paperback. Go recapture a bit of your own childhood by burying your nose between its pages: it won't be time wasted, I promise you.