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Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Review: The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
ARC, Paperback, 576 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
March 1, 2010

Genre: Medieval Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Sourcebooks for Review as a part of HFBRT March event
The Legend of the Greatest Knight Lives On

William Marshal’s skill with sword and loyalty to his word have earned him the company of kings, the lands of a magnate, and the hand of Isabelle de Clare, one of England’s wealthiest heiresses. But he is thrust back into the chaos of court when King Richard dies. Vindictive King John clashes with William, claims the family lands for the Crown—and takes two of the Marshal sons hostage. The conflict between obeying his king and rebelling over the royal injustices threatens the very heart of William and Isabelle’s family. Fiercely intelligent and courageous, fearing for the man and marriage that light her life, Isabelle plunges with her husband down a precarious path that will lead William to more power than he ever expected
The Scarlet Lion picks up shortly after The Greatest Knight leaves off. I would HIGHLY recommend that you read The Greatest Knight first! I am so glad that I found time to squeeze The Greatest Knight in. If you don’t, you will lose out on so much back-story that makes you really care about the characters and you learn the motives for many of the things that occur in this story. I have heard several people make this complaint, so I wanted to warn you right off of the top.

The Scarlet Lion takes place mostly in Ireland and England. I had not read anything set in Ireland, so it was very interesting to see some of this Irish history. For much of the story, William and Isabelle are in different countries and you see them living separate lives. When they are together, it is for a very short period of time and usually revolves around the marriage bed. One of the things that I miss from the previous book is the unity between William and Isabelle. They were able to build off of each other and make each other stronger – here there is more conflict. I really did find myself enjoying two of their children – John and Mahelt. I’m excited that Mahelt will be featured in an upcoming book, To Defy a King.

While I LOVED The Greatest Knight (you can find my review here), I didn’t enjoy The Scarlet Lion quite as much. I still really enjoyed it, but it was lacking the action and tourney excitement of the previous. This story was more character driven and less action driven – so it was a little slow going at times. One of the strengths of Chadwick’s writing is her ability to make you feel for the characters. As the story came toward the end I found myself in going back and forth between being choked up and crying – definitely a hanky novel!

Overall, an enjoyable Chadwick read and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more. For those of you who read this book first and found it hard to get into, do yourself a favor and pick up The Greatest Knight, you won’t regret it!

You can visit Elizabeth Chadwick's website or one of her many blogs to find out more about other books about the Marshall family or her other works about the Medieval period. You can read an excerpt here.
Here is a book trailer that I found -

Other HFBRT events today:

Origins and Ten Commandments of Medieval Knighthood at All Things Royal

My reviews of other books by this author:

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I have not read The Greatest Knight yet, but I absolutely loved The Scarlet Lion. So if you think The Greatest Knight was better, I'm sure I will be crazy for it :)

  2. Good find on the video, and I concur it must be a fan because I don't think an Editor at Sourcebooks would have sanctioned it when it says at the end "Sourcebooks March 2009" when they really mean 2010. Oops =)
    Otherwise, your review was spot on. I am so glad we had the event and I was introduced to William Marshal, my new hero! A fabulous review, for a great book.

  3. I agree The Greatest Knight was better but... The Scarlet Lion was still a really dang good book. Loved the video.Great review.

  4. I am so looking forward to reading these two books and adding them to my Elizabeth Chadwick collection.
    Good review.

  5. I totally agree - while this book *can* function as a standalone, people should really read The Greatest Knight first! Great review.

  6. I think, but don't quote me, that Elizabeth Chadwick makes a lot of the videos herself, using a lot of the reenactments that she participates in as footage.


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