Robin Hood retellings all tend to blur together - possibly because, after a lifetime of exposure to film, television, books, more books, comic books, and post-apocalyptic comic books, the core cast of characters and plot twists all become a bit predictable. Robin McKinley's The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988) adds a fresh perspective to the mix because it is spends the most time scrutinising what an outlaw thinks, as opposed to what one does. McKinley's Robin Hood isn't so much the grand adventurer or iconic rogue as much as an accidental - if thoughtful - leader.
McKinley sets the scene in the opening pages when Robin - who is actually a rather mediocre archer - accidentally kills another forester. It is in self-defense and it is a poor shot, but, nevertheless, a panicked Robin flees into the woods to hide. It is Marian and Much, Robin's two closest friends, who see the bigger picture: a new Saxon resistance, an icon of freedom, a beacon of hope, etc. etc. Robin is mostly concerned with staying alive.
Moreover, that's always Robin's concerns. If anything, Robin is the least "Robin Hood"-like member of his own band: he's pragmatic, slightly paranoid, and far more focused on the day-to-day elements (digging latrines, for example) than fighting for the greater good. McKinley is clever in how she weaves in the traditions of Robin Hood - the green cloth, the archery competitions - in a way that seems both natural historically and natural to Robin as a character. It is perhaps this commitment to making Robin an ordinary, nice guy in extraordinary, superheroic circumstances that makes him such a compelling character. Through the other characters' eyes, we start to see what he's becoming, and what he is a symbol. Through Robin's own... we only experience the worry, maturity and self-sacrifice that comes with being responsible for the lives of others.