Thursday, May 13, 2010

To Defy A King - A Conversation and a giveaway

Ana, Alex and Marg are all confirmed Elizabeth Chadwick fans from way back (we are trying to work on Teddy and Kelly, but despite all of our encouragement they haven't caved just yet! I am not sure what they are waiting for!!). We have all just finished reading Elizabeth Chadwick's latest release, To Defy a King, so we thought that we would do a conversation about the book. We will post our proper reviews later. 

Marg: So Ana and Alex, it's been a while since the last Elizabeth Chadwick new release, and we were all very excited about this one? Was it worth the wait?

Ana: Most definitely! I loved it! I would be happy with anything that EC chooses to write about but I definitely have a soft spot for her Marshall characters. And I loved Mahelt in this book. I loved how she grew up from a hot headed teenager to someone more serene and willing to think first and compromise but still strong and ready to defend herself and her family. And I loved Hugh for not crushing her and taking the time to know her and the best way to deal with her.

Alex: I couldn't agree more with Ana. I'll read anything by Ms Chadwick but the Marshal family has a special place in my heart. Reading about William Marshal and Isabel de Clare made me even more curious about their offspring. Mahelt is their first child and their only daughter for several years. I don't have any difficulties seeing her as her daddy's little girl. 

The wait was excruciating but it's always the case for Elizabeth Chadwick's books. I still have four of her books in my TBR pile to be read between future releases. It's hard to go more than 6 months without a Chadwick fix!

Marg: I have a few books left to go out of the back list as well. I am working through them very slowly because I don't know what I will do when I have to wait for new ones and not have any unread books left.

Ana: What did you think of Mahelt, Hugh and their relationship? I thought it interesting when Isabelle Marshall tells Mahelt in the end that they were afraid of giving her to the Bigods both for her and their sake.

Marg: Mahelt was certainly very confident and sure of her sense of self when she arrived to be his wife, and she never lost that sense of who she  was even when that set her to clash with Hugh, or more precisely with his father, and you are right, I loved that whilst Hugh had every right to try and crush that sense of independence and form her into a sombre lady who would meet the normal standards of  how a young lady would behave, he didn't do that. Whilst Mahelt had to learn to behave appropriately, he found other ways to encourage her to maintain her sense of self, for example, by buying her a flock of sheep.

Alex: Mahelt was a Marshal and acted like one, but without her father's tact, as Isabelle de Clare says. She knows what she wants for herself and her family and even if she knows that she is a Bigod wife, her loyalty is always, in the first place, to the Marshals. I think her mother feared that she might not be able to become part of the Bigod family and that her husband would crush her more exuberant and independent personality condemning her to more feminine and domestic tasks. I love that Hugh understands immediately that Mahelt needs to be more than a wife and a mother.  

Marg: William Longespee - good guy, bad guy or just misunderstood?

Ana: I didn't see him as a bad guy although he certainly did some things that I see as bad but I thought that he was mostly a flawed character. Being left behind by his mother as a child probably made him enjoy the fact that King John needed him so much to the point of being jealous of others. And he was very much aware that he was a King's son and as Roger Bigod so accurately puts it, he is bothered that he is a bastard and Hugh is legitimate and born to a fortune twice his. All this makes him a very troubled character to deal with especially to someone as different from him as Hugh is.

Alex: Definitely not a bad guy. For me he is just someone who tries very hard to find his place and most of the times in a very clumsy manner. The two horses scenes really incensed me! But, I could feel how he desperately wanted to belong somewhere. He didn't have a place with the Bigods, so he tries to please and be loyal to his royal brother. Of course, his ambition and competitiveness didn't always play in his favor. But his scenes with Ela were very sweet.

Marg: Let's talk about Ida and Roger. We first met them in The Time of Singing, and they are Hugh's parents so this book kind of follows on from their story. I must confess that I was saddened to see what had happened to them. Roger seems so rigid and set in his ways as he has gotten older, and I hated how he couldn't show Ida how much he still cared for her. Why do you think that was?

Ana: I have to confess I haven't read The Time of Singing yet and after reading this one I was actually happy with it because now I'll have a chance to see another side of Roger. If I had seen just this one I think I would have been really sad yes... he is a man who takes his responsibilities so seriously that his family life falls in the shadow. He managed to keep them all safe but at what cost?

Alex: Like Ana I didn't read The Time of Singing, but I remember reading some reviews and I was quite surprised by this Roger. I had some troubles warming up to him... He worries so much that he might loose what he has that he forget to enjoy his life with Ida and his children. When he wakes up it's too late. I was sorry for him, but mostly I was sorry for Ida.

Marg: Ladies, you need to read The Time of Singing! 

Ana: One thing I really liked was how so much of medieval life is conveyed without it being obvious. The food, the daily chores, the organization of the castle, the marriage traditions and the people's expectations about life, religion, king... not to mention the way the political events are woven in the story. This is really what HF is about isn't it?

Marg: This for me is really where Elizabeth Chadwick's strength is in her storytelling. I am always reminded when I read her books that whilst the house I live in now, my transport, and the way I live my life are all very different to what Mahelt and the other characters would be used, fundamentally our emotional needs are no different - our need to provide and protect our children and the need to come first with our chosen partner for example.

Alex: I'm always amazed how Elizabeth Chadwick brings back Middle Age to life. The moment I open one of her books, I'm gone for another adventurous journey many centuries back in time. The scene when Mahelt defends her "castle" from her brothers and trows them handfuls of salve, I could actually smell the thing. 

Alex: The story ends in 1218 just before several deaths in Mahelt's family changed her life completely. Did any of you wanted the story to continue or you were satisfied with the final scene?

Ana: I think it was right to finish when it did because most of the novel is about the conflict with King John. It shaped their lives till then and I saw it as fitting that the story ends when that conflict is resolved .

Marg: I always want more! Having said that, it did seem that the novel ends up at a point where as a reader we can just close the book knowing that the life of Mahelt and Hugh will go on without us, if that makes sense. They have faced many challenges, some of which could have destroyed them, and now they are ready to go forward together. Reading the author's note did make it obvious that there was so much that could have been written about Mahelt, but I was satisfied with where it did end.

Ana: Do you think we will have more Marshall novels? Or better yet is there any secondary character that interested you enough to hope for a book for them? I had one after reading The Greatest Knight but none in this story... Knowing that the Marshall name ended with this generation is kind of sad isn't it?

Marg: I am really not sure. What I do know is that regardless of whether there are more Marshal novels or if this is the last, whatever Elizabeth Chadwick comes out with next I will be reading because I know that I will end up with a really enjoyable read.  I am also pretty sure that like this book, I will find it difficult to put down the next book. There is a down side to devouring each new Chadwick novel as quickly as we all did and that is the wait for the next one!

Alex: That would be something interesting to ask Elizabeth Chadwick, but I'm sure she'll continue to give us incredible stories with extraordinary characters no matter what.

Marg: Do you have a favourite scene or line you would like to share?

Ana: Maybe the scene where Hugh and Mahelt are both at the loom after their son is born. I thought that was a symbolic scene of the life they were creating. Which was yours?

Alex: Ana's scene is also among my favorite, but I would add also Mahelt's "encounter" with Prince John (the girl finally did something that many of us would like to do to that creep), every scene with William Marshal because he is my favorite hero, when Ida shows Mahelt William Longespée baby shoes (I had tears in my eyes).

Marg: I enjoyed that scene, and also many of the scenes where Ida and Mahelt shared the page. I must confess to sighing out loud when I read the scene where Hugh left the note for Mahelt to read before he went off to battle.

Ne vuz sanz mei, ne mei sanz vus.
(No you without me, nor I without you)

Marg: If you had to give this a rating out of 5, what would you give it? It was a solid 5/5 for me.

Ana: definitely a solid 5 for me also.

Alex: A 5/5 for me too but I would give it a 10 if I could. To Defy a King is a must read for any historical fiction fan!


Now for the giveaway! Alex has a gently read spare copy of The Time of Singing, the book that tells the story of Hugh's parents, Roger and Ida, and she is happy to give it away! (This book is due to be released in the US later this year under the title For the King's Favor.)

- the giveaway is open worldwide
- only one entry per person
- please leave us a valid email address
- open until the 20th May 2010 midnight GMT

The winner will be chosen randomly (with Don't forget that there is still a giveaway To Defy a King. You can enter that giveaway by clicking here. Who knows. If you are lucky you could end up with both!

Good luck to everyone!


  1. One I don't have! I would love this one! Thanks for a great giveaway.

    thetometraveller (at) yahoo +dot+ com

  2. Don't enter me, you know I already own them all :)

    Loved the discussion, and one of my favorite scenes was the bit with John and his jewells as well. I did get a big chuckle out of the not going all the way to London method of birth control too.

  3. Would love to win this one :)


  4. No need to enter me, I am getting the new US version for review. I loved this chat ladies. I haven't read this book, but I loved Mehalt in The Scarlet Lion. I can't wait to read this one.

  5. please enter me. I am just starting to read Ms. Chadwick.
    thank you
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  6. Thank you for entering me. =)

  7. Yes Please !

    I would like a copy of the book.

    Thanks for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  8. I would love to read this, please enter me!


  9. I'd like to enter!


  10. I'd love to read another Chadwick book!



  11. Still anxiously awaiting To Defy a King, but in the meantime it would be wonderful to have access to A Time of Singing. Thanks for the giveaway.

  12. Would love to read this one!
    Thank you,

  13. I'd like to be included!

  14. I think my son would like this.


    admin at jhsiess dot com

  15. I'd love to be entered!

    akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

  16. Please count me in for this giveaway.


  17. Please enter me in this giveaway - Thanks!


  18. Great giveaway!

    Please count me in. Thanks.

    avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

  19. I'd so love to read this.

    tradingaddress at gmail dot com

  20. I've heard such great things about this book, please enter me!

    notyourstar11 at yahoo dot com

  21. Still haven't read a thing by this author, so here I am trying to win a book...

  22. Thanks so much for the great giveaway!

    shhhimreading at hotmail dot com

  23. Yes, please enter me!

    teabird17 atyahoodotcom

  24. EC's books are definitely a joy to read! I would love a chance to win A Time for Singing. Thanks!

  25. Almost missed this one! Thanks for the reminder and thanks for the chance.


  26. Thanks for the opportunity to win -- i LOVE Elizabeth Chadwick!

  27. Wow, all 3 of you reated it a 5. I will have to get my hands on it eventually. Great interview!

  28. Please enter me for this giveaway. I would like to read Elizabeth Chadwick's books, they sound very interesting.



  29. If the giveaway is international (US)count me in. I love Elizabeth Chadwick novels.

  30. Count me in please. Sounds like a great book. :)

    carianmoonlight at gmail dot com

  31. I would absolutely love to win this! Thanks for the giveaway :)

  32. I love Chadwick's books and I'm trying to work my way through all of them. Thanks for the chance to win THE TIME OF SINGING.

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  33. Would read all of Chadwicks books if I could, will try! Please enter me in this contest for 'The Time of Singing'.