2 Sept 2023

The Telling of the Beads Book 1: Saplings of Sherwood by Avellina Balestri

Genre: Historical Fiction/Robin Hood Legends

270 Pages, Kindle Edition 

December 21th, 2022

“I dreamt of a wily wolf and a swift stag blessing a sapling among the trees. It’s a sign you’ll make our people proud.” ~

Robin Locksley is the heir to the last Saxon noble house in Nottinghamshire. Since the time of William the Conqueror, his family has been beleaguered by those who seek to extinguish their lineage and seize their estate. Roger Cavendish is the son of the ruthless and power-hungry Norman lord whose property borders Locksley lands.

For over a century since the conquest, the Cavendish family has sought to secure predominance in the region through any means necessary. Each raised to uphold opposing ancestral legacies, Robin and Roger find themselves crossing paths through their common bond to the land. They meet eye to eye, sky blue and hawk gold, catching glimpses of each other’s souls as they struggle under their own personal burdens.

But while one is yet a child and the other hardly a man, a twist of fate intensifies the generational feud and kindles the first sparks of a raging fire that will one day consume their world. Destiny will immortalize them in story and song. Unfolding in an era dominated by feudal conflict and imbued with religious faith, this introspective drama puts flesh upon the bones of legend and takes an intimate character-driven approach to retelling one of the most famous heroic journeys in the annals of literature.


                                                   My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

 The author sent me a copy of this book because she knew of my interest in Medieval Fiction, and I'm glad she did. Mrs Balestri wanted to write a Robin Hood story which:

a) Accurately represented the religious ideals of the time period and

b) Showed the influence of ancient myths and legends on the Robin Hood stories.

The story starts with Robin and Marian (as well as others) as very young children to show what shaped and formed them: and perhaps how their later actions and alliances were influenced. The young man who will become the Sheriff of Nottingham is a remarkably sympathetic character. I dare you not to feel sorry for him.

Robin emerges as a complex figure torn between two worlds: his love for the Norman Marion and his Saxon background, between the old ways and Christianity and which represent two different parts of himself. I also appreciated some of the historical details in this story which you don’t see in a lot of other novels: a knowledge of the Medieval education system, church and Latin.

Ignore the hand-drawn cover though: this isn’t a children’s book. Its YA at the earliest because of a number of sexual references. Not graphic, but up to a parent’s discretion and I would not recommend them for under 16s.


Avellina Balestri is a Catholic author and editor based in the historic Maryland-Pennsylvania borderlands. Her stories, poems, and essays have been featured in over thirty print and online publications including The Wisdom Daily, The Latin Mass Magazine, and The St. Austin Review

She is the Editor-in-Chief of Fellowship & Fairydust, a magazine inspiring faith and creativity and exploring the arts through a spiritual lens. Under its auspices, she had the honor of hosting a literary conference at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, commemorating the legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien. 

Her hobbies include listening to and performing folk music, watching and reviewing classic films, and chatting with a zany array of international contacts. Avellina believes that the Trinitarian and Incarnational mysteries are reflected in all things good, true, and beautiful, and that the image of God is wondrously woven into every human heart. 

These themes are at the forefront of the stories she chooses to tell.

 For more information about the author and her various projects, please visit the following websites: www.fellowshipandfairydust.com www.avellinabalestri.com

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