by Cynthia Voigt
New York : Atheneum, 1985.
In a medievalesque village, times are hard and rumors are flying of unrest in the south. The Lords have all the wealth and are a law unto themselves, while most people are scrambling to pay their taxes and comforting each other with tales of Jackaroo, the masked man outside the law who helps the people, if the Lords won't. Gwyn, the Innkeeper's daughter, is better off than most and doesn't believe the old tales. But she's struggling to determine who she is, as she's nearly past marrying age and has precious few options if she chooses to remain single.
I read this story at least twice as a teen. I hadn't read much fantasy beyond the classics, such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, and I really loved it then, not really picking up on the tropes that the story includes - Lords and people, medieval setting, stew and ale and....you get the picture. It's not a bad story, but it's very traditional fantasy that starts a bit slowly and almost reads like historical fiction because of the focus on politics and finances. When I was a teen, I focused on the adventure and Robin Hood-like character of Jackaroo, but on this reread it actually took much longer than I remembered to get to the more exciting elements. A few scenes stood out in my mind, but the details were fuzzy, so I enjoyed revisiting the story. I've passed on my copy - the library discard, the same copy I read as a teen - on to my sister to see if she enjoys it as much as I did at that age.