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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Review: To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick

To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick
Book 5 in the William Marshall series & Book 2 in the Bigod series
ARC, Paperback, 544 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
March 1, 2011
goodreads button

Genre: Medieval Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher 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!

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.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers: 

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Elizabeth Chadwick

Elizabeth Chadwick has written many wonderful novels, among those in the William Marshall and Bigod series’ are:

a place beyond courage
A Place Beyond Courage (Marshall Book 1)
[My Review]

the greatest knight
The Greatest Knight
(Marshall Book 2)
[My Review]

the scarlet lion
The Scarlet Lion (Marshall Book 3)
[My Review]

for the kings favor
For the King’s Favor (Marshall Book 4; Bigod Book 1)
AKA. A Time For Singing
[My Review]

My reviews of other Chadwick novels:

Find Elizabeth Chadwick: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blogs

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court 


  1. I still have not got to this! It is a must on my TBR list.

  2. I just read 'The Greatest Knight', I guess you can say that I've joined the club of Chadwick-book-lovers. ^.^

  3. I'm currently trying to collect Chadwick's backlist of titles (to add to my hobby of hunting Plaidys and Georgette Heyers!). I'm so looking forward to getting this one as I thoroughly enjoyed For the King's Favor last year. I've read her blog posts about the Akasha sessions and they are fascinating! Thanks for the review! :)

  4. Carole Rae - Didn't you just love William Marshall? TGK is my favorite read by Chadwick!

    Joanne - I'm on the same quest!

  5. I was so sad to see the relationship between Roger and Ida, but it did definitely still feel like it was a possible outcome given what we knew about them in their book.

    So glad you loved this one too.

  6. Marg - it did still feel realistic - but it was so sad!!

  7. This book looks great! I really like Ms. Chadwick's Marshall novels and this one looks really interesting. :)

  8. I loved this book! Chadwick works magic, I felt like I had time traveled there to witness it all. I haven't read 'The Greatest Knight' yet but I have it now.

  9. Teddy - You have to read The Greatest Knight - you will love it!

  10. I totally agree about Roger!! It hurt my feelings that he was portrayed so differently here. Thanks for stopping by my review of this one :)


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