To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick
ARC, Paperback, 544 pages
March 1, 2011
Genre: Medieval Historical Fiction
Source: Received from Sourcebooks for Review
“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.”After reading four of Elizabeth Chadwick’s books I don’t think that there is anything she can do wrong in writing this genre. The characters are wonderful – fleshed out, individual, not stereotypical and graceful. The blend of action scenes and emotional scenes are well balanced. You come away from each of these books wanting more!
To Defy a King is no exception to the above. Even though most of the characters and many of the major events have been present in some way in several of her other books, Elizabeth Chadwick has a way of making them feel fresh and new each time. This is a wonderful quality because you still feel like the characters are familiar but you are getting a new take on them and their world. A perfect case in point – my feelings toward Roger Bigod are very different in To Defy a King than in For the King’s Favor. In King’s Favor, I loved Roger – I thought his romance with Ida was sweet and he was determined to preserve what was his. In To Defy a King I found that his character frustrated me because he seemed to have lost part of what I had loved about him – his connection with his wife. I also loved getting to see more of the Marshall brood – still from an insider perspective, from Mehelt, but she becomes a little of an estranged insider. It was also wonderful to see more of William Longspee – I enjoyed getting to see him grow up in King’s Favor and now we get to see more of his interaction with his half-brothers and how he grows into a man.
Elizabeth Chadwick really knows how to make believable relationships between her characters. I really loved watching the development of the relationship between Mehelt and Hugh. She was a very young girl when they first met and he was several years older. Seeing what they think of each other as time goes on was interesting. The way their relationship unfolds felt so true - even in regard to modern relationships, although we don’t get married quite so young. There is love, passion, frustration, anger, forgiveness, and acceptance.
The author is phenomenal at creating vivid scenes for the reader. When you are reading you will be completely swallowed up by the world and feel that you are right there too. The smells, sounds and visual stimuli are front and center in her writing.
I don’t think I can put in writing how much I enjoy reading these books. These characters are not just people created in an imagination; they feel like flesh and blood. This book is now my second favorite of the 4 - but I don't think anything will top The Greatest Knight for me. I’m not sure what the next USA release will be, I think Lady of the English comes out in September, but regardless of what it is I can’t wait to read it!
Elizabeth Chadwick has released many historical fiction books. Recently Sourcbooks has released The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, and For the King’s Favor (click on the titles to read my reviews). You can visit Elizabeth’s website for additional information about her books. Elizabeth also has several blogs devoted to her books – you also might be interested in check out the Akashic Sessions that took place for To Defy a King. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
You can also watch the book trailer below.
5 out of 5 stars.
Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court