Misfit has decided to give us a tour through Elizabeth Chadwick's backlist. Welcome to Historical Tapestry Misfit!
I first discovered Elizabeth Chadwick’s books in early 2006 – whether they popped up on my Amazon recommendations or I found them on a Listmania, I’ve no clue. Heh, they probably were on my rec’s because I purchased PG’s books back in the early days of discovering historical fictionJ. Whatever – all I know is Falcons of Montabard was the first and it sent me on a whole new reading adventure and I’ve not looked back since. No one but no one can suck me into another century like EC does. To quote some of her book jackets it’s the next best thing to time travel.
The Time of Singing
EC’s latest novel tells the story of Roger Bigod, son of Hugh Bigod Earl of Norfolk, who and Ida de Tosney who was a mistress to Henry II. A big surprise was finding a young William Longespée in Ida’s story. I am patiently waiting for the sequel in 2010, To Defy a King.
The Scarlet Lion
The outstanding sequel to The Greatest Knight, this novel covers William Marshal’s life with Isabel as they face the dangers and terrors of living in the court of the King John, and then his time as regent for the young Henry III. I have to admit shedding more than a few tears at the last chapter, keep the tissue box handy.
A Place Beyond Courage
This is a prequel of sorts to The Greatest Knight, and is the story of John FitzGilbert, the father of William Marshal. The story takes place amidst the backdrop of England's civil war between Henry's daughter Matilda and her cousin Stephen, as John tries to juggle his perilous position between the two rivals for the crown. The author did a marvelous job of bringing John, Aline and Sybilla to life, and most especially young William. I was totally entranced at the way William was portrayed, from his exuberant first word to his innocent knowledge of the danger he was in whilst being held hostage by King Stephen.
The Winter Mantle
It is 1066 and William the Bastard has conquered England. He marries his niece to the soon to be rebellious Earl Waltheof of Huntingdon. This is two stories, first Waltheof and then his daughter Matilda.
The Falcons of Montabard
After dallying with the King’s mistress, Sabin is beaten by the King’s men and banished and he heads to Outremer (Israel). The setting for this story is a bit different from the EC’s other novels, but it’s still a personal favorite of mine, as is the hero Sabin – what a hottie. I loved watching Sabin grow and mature from a young hellion and womanizer into a caring, loving husband and father. Those of you who have read The Winter Mantle will recognize Sabin as the very young baby at the end of that book.
Shadows and Strongholds
S&S is the story of Fulke "Brunin" Fitzwarin, and follows him from childhood to manhood. As a young boy, Brunin withdraws into himself to avoid the pain from his domineering overbearing grandmother, and his father sends him to train as a squire with Joscelin de Dinan. I really loved the relationship between Brunin and Hawise and never tire of reading it (three times now). This is a great coming of age story and a prequel of sorts to The Lords of The White Castle – although Lords was written first.
Lords of the White Castle
While serving as a squire at the court of Henry II, fifteen year old Fulke FitzWarin runs afoul of a drunken Prince John and fights back when John attacks him with a wooden chess board, leaving a grudge that both men carry into adulthood. The FitzWarin family fights to have Whittingdon Castle, that was taken from them during the Civil War, returned to them, yet upon Richard I's death the now King John refuses to consider Fulke's plea out of spite. Fulke and his brothers rebel against John and become outlaws, living in the woods and robbing whenever they can from John (hmmm, a bit similar to a certain legend?).
Daughters of the Grail
This is one of EC’s earlier books and is also published under the title Children of Destiny. I loved this exciting tale of Cathars, Knights Templar, evil priests, Bridget and her daughter Magda - descended from Mary Magdalene, all battling the Roman Catholic Church that is bent on destroying them.
The Marsh King’s Daughter
This was a bit different from the author's usual story -- you really won't find many lords, ladies and knights in this one. Just the wool trade, an interesting footnote in history on the disappearance into the quicksand of John's treasure, a truly evil bad guy and a pair of lovers who take FOREVER to realize they are meant to be.
An interesting concept using the tourney circuit as a back drop, giving you an entrance into an area most of us know nothing about. Of course the hero is wonderful, the villains truly evil (King John is really over the top in this one!) and we’re kept on the edge of our seat waiting to see if true love wins out in the end.
The Love Knot
A story set in the time of England's Civil War between Stephen and Maude. Catrin was stubborn to a fault, Oliver steadfast and honorable, a truly evil villain and a surprise return from the past of someone long thought dead. One of EC’s earlier novels and might feel too much like a romance for some historical fans but I loved it to bits.
Unputdownable! Is that a word? If not it should be, at least when describing this author's books. The Conquest is really two books in one, telling the story of two generations as it opens shortly before the Norman invasion of 1066. Saxon housewife Ailith loses her husband, brothers and new born child and attempts to take her own life, but is stopped by womanizing Norman knight Rolf de Brize. The second part of the book tells the story of their daughter Julitta.
Shields of Pride
One of EC's earlier books, this is the story of mercenary Joscelin de Gael, the illegitimate son of a prominent knight and Linnet de Montsorrel. Linnet's abusive husband dies in an accident and Joscelin is given the care of Linnet's holdings and young son, and marries her.
The Wild Hunt
EC's first novel and Book One in the Ravenstow Trilogy. Guyan, a Marcher Lord marries Judith of Ravenstow at the order of King William Rufus. They meet on their wedding day, and Guyan finds himself with a not fully mature 16 year old wife. As Guyan and Judith struggle with the treachery and intrigues of the courts of both William Rufus and his brother Henry, they manage to forge a strong and passionate marriage, and Judith grows into a strong willed woman and a force to be reckoned with.
The Running Vixen
Book two in the Ravenstow trilogy, this book tells the story of Guyan's newly widowed natural daughter Heulwen and Adam de Lacey who was raised in Guyan and Judith's household. Adam has just returned from escorting Maude/Mathidla from Germany back to England to be sworn in as Henry I's heir, to the chagrin of the Barons. IMHO this is the weakest book in the trilogy, but EC’s second best is heads and tails above many others.
The Leopard Unleashed
Book Three in the Ravenstow Trilogy, it opens as Guyan and Judith's oldest son and heir Renard is on crusade, that being the most expeditious method of his avoiding the civil war raging between King Stephen and Empress Mathilda. Renard involves himself with a beautiful exotic dancer, Olwen, and when the summons arrives for Renard to return home to his ailing father, she manipulates Renard into taking her along with him. Once home, Renard must marry the much younger Eleanor, who he was betrothed to ten years prior.
My understanding is that this novel was written as a tie-in to the movie and is not your usual Chadwick. You won’t find that sense of time travel to another century that you usually get in an EC book and it’s best left for her die-hard fans like me J.
And last, but certainly not least is the book soon to be released in the U.S. by SourceBooks,
The Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion
A fascinating look at a true, honorable and loyal man, who in the end was well rewarded for his loyalty by marriage to a wealthy heiress who became his life's soul mate. Much of the book is involved with the treachery and intrigue of the Plantagenet court and their lives -- you won't see as much heart stopping page turning excitement as you might have found some of the author's previous works, but still excellent reading just the same.