A Reader’s Respite wants our own time-machine. We want one so badly that we sent our blog secretary out to the garage to build us one, but he claimed it wasn’t in his contract (we have a contract?) and pulled a face that precluded any further discussion on the matter:
So we reached for the next best thing to an actual time machine: the newest Elizabeth Chadwick release here in the U.S. (and winner of the latest RNA’s Best Historical Novel Award), To Defy a King, and we were most definitely not disappointed.
Almost no other historical fiction author can transport their readers to another time like Chadwick. Sights, sounds, smells, and emotions place the reader smack where Chadwick wants them: in this case, early 13th century England where big, bad King John (oh yes, he of Robin Hood fame) reigns supreme.
While King John is busy making his subject’s lives miserable Mahelt Marshal, the strong-willed daughter of the Earl of Pembroke, is busy trying to make a go of her politically-arranged marriage to the Hugh Bigod, the eldest son of the Earl of Norfolk, while keeping her family safe from King John’s evil eye.
If the names Marshal and Bigod sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. While not officially part of a series, To Defy a King is the cumulative result of her previously well-received novels. The story of Mahelt’s father, William Marshal, was told in The Greatest Knight and it’s follow up, The Scarlet Lion (selected as one of the top ten historical novels of the decade by The Historical Novel Society). The story of Hugh’s parents, Roger and Ida, was told in The Time of Singing.
As in each of her previous novels, in To Defy a King you’ll find a magical blend of history, romance and adventure with nary an insipid heroine in sight.
Thoughtful and smart, you can’t go wrong with an Elizabeth Chadwick historical novel.