Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: To Defy a King, by Elizabeth Chadwick

by Elizabeth Chadwick
Sourcebooks Landmark
March 2011
$14.99, 544 pages

Synopsis from Sourcebooks

The adored and spirited daughter of England’s greatest knight, Mahelt Marshal lives a privileged life. But when her beloved father falls foul of the volatile and dangerous King John, her world is shattered. The king takes her brothers hostage and Mahelt’s planned marriage to Hugh Bigod, son of the Earl of Norfolk, takes place sooner than she expected. Mahelt and Hugh come to care for each other deeply, but Hugh’s strict father clashes with the rebellious Mahelt. When more harsh demands from King John threaten to tear the couple’s lives apart, Mahelt finds herself facing her worst fears alone, not knowing if she—or her marriage—will survive.
A brilliant story of a vibrant woman in a tyrant’s world, To Defy a King is another impeccably researched masterpiece from a beloved author. ~Sourcebooks

My Review

Elizabeth Chadwick continues to astound me with her imaginative, insightful writing, with scrupulous detail.  To Defy the King is a continuation of the story and the characters who were introduced in For the King’s Favor,  one of my favorite book choices for 2010. 

To Defy a King was equally affecting.  Favorite characters of mine reappear in this new novel, albeit with less spunk and energy.  Roger Bigod and Ida become background and less foreground, as each exhibits an aging temperament appearing now decidedly different. Roger Bigod is now somewhere in his 60’s and as his character has become set in his ways, he appears as an opinionated curmudgeon. Now a new generation of sons and daughters emerges in a fresh plot and large cast of diverse characters.

Mahelt arrives with tumultuous energy.  Roger Bigod's quickly discovers that his soon to be daughter in law this is a recalcitrant and feisty female who is not afraid to stand up to him. She could care less what others think or what gossip surrounds her deeds.  Bigod believes she needs to be watched, yet his plan to engage her with his wife’s sewing activities are short lived.  Mahelt abhors sewing, a favorite pastime of his wife Ida.  With an urgent need to harness or at least keep Melhelt stay out of trouble,  Bigod outlines alternative household duties that seem to satisfy Mahelt, for the short term.  The marriage of Mahelt Marshall to  Hugh Bigod will serve as an alliance between their two families. With Roger Marshall in the King’s favor, it is the perfect match.  However, Hugh and Mahelt come to adore one another and the small spark that begins as an ember of spousal duty turns to wanton passion. As King John continues to reign with eccentricity and brutality,  Hugh, is honor bound to serve his King.  Conflict develops when his fealty to the King and fealty to Mahelt and his children collide.

This book will bring page turning anxiety and lost sleep as you want to get to the finish, only to discover you didn’t want it to end. You just might miss the people who for a while became your world and the emotional emptiness is disconsolate.   I adored Mahelt, she is enchanting, alluring, intelligent and impressive, a rare personality of extreme power who will endure in print because her image was shaped by an exceptional storyteller.  When you read one of Elizabeth Chadwick’s books, you are cocooned in a wondrous historical fiction assignation.

See the exciting trailer and tune in to my blog tomorrow for Elizabeth Chadwick's guest appearance.  Elizabeth Chadwick Website.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for providing a review copy of this book. As always, reviews on my blog represent my honest unbiased opinion.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2011].

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