First Line: "On a certain afternoon, in the late springtime, the bell upon Tunstall Moat House was heard ringing at an unaccustomed hour."
Summary: Young Dick Shelton has been in the care of Sir Daniel since the death of his father. When Dick learns that Sir Daniel is a murderer and he might be next, he takes to the forest in an attempt to save his life. There he is captured by a band of outlaws, but soon becomes their leader. Sir Daniel's reputation precedes him and Dick has no trouble gaining followers for his cause. He realizes that he must go to battle against Sir Daniel in order to regain his fortune. Along the way he must discern between friend and foe, survive a shipwreck and fight for his life.
My thoughts: If you are in the mood for adventure, chivalry, mystery and a little romance, then The Black Arrow is for you.
Dick Shelton knows that his father was murdered, but when he overhears talk that the murderer was Sir Daniel, the man who has been his guardian for several years, he feels betrayed. He also realizes that Sir Daniel is plotting to kill him next. So, he takes to the forest in an attempt to get as far away as he can. But, there are outlaws in the forest and he is quickly captured. Dick is brave and not afraid to fight. But he is also a good judge of character. He is willing to listen to what the outlaws have to say. Along the way he has to steal and later feels remorse. In fact, he tries to make amends for what he has done.
There are lots of secrets, both in the castles and in the forest. As soon as Dick thinks he has made a friend, he often just as soon finds himself fleeing once again.
Robert Louis Stevenson has a great understanding of human nature and that definitely comes across in this story. I especially noticed this in the character of Dick. He is brave and willing to fight and lead others into battle, but he makes mistakes due to his lack of age and experience. Throughout the story he grows and becomes more mature.
This story was originally published as a serial in a magazine for boys. Two years previously, Treasure Island was published in the same way. Sometimes that can make the story drag a little. However, The Black Arrow doesn't seem to have as much repetition as Treasure Island and that made the story move along well.
I thoroughly enjoyed this engaging work of historical fiction.
"Nay, I was not born yesterday. I can see a church when it hath a steeple on it; and for my part, gossip Arblaster, methinks there is some sense in this young man."
"Well, Dick was not much of an inventor, and what he told was pretty much the tale of Ali Baba, with Shoreby and Tunstall Forest substituted for the East, and the treasures of the cavern rather exaggerated than diminished. As the reader is aware, it is an excellent story, and has but one drawback - that it it not true; and so, as these three simple shipmen now heard it for the first time, their eyes stood out of their faces, and their mouths gaped like codfish at a fishmonger's. "