To Defy a King
An action-packed medieval novel from a USA Today bestselling author
Named the Historical Novel of the Year by the Romantic Novelist's Association in 2011, To Defy is King is a riveting novel of family loyalty and betrayal, featuring the daughter of William Marshal-one of Chadwick, and history's, most beloved characters.
The spirited daughter of England's greatest knight, Mahelt Marshal, lives a privileged life. But when her beloved father falls out with 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. Caught between the family she was born in and the family she married into, Mahelt is uncertain if she-or her marriage-will survive.
Written with vivid detail and great historical accuracy, To Defy a King is an immersive historical novel of Medieval England. Fans of Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Sharon Kay Penman, and Bernard Cornwall will take pleasure in this well-crafted story of a vibrant, noble woman in a tyrant's world.
More Medieval Historical Fiction Titles from Elizabeth Chadwick:
"This is truly historical fiction at its finest."
"An enthralling historical fiction novel with superb characters and a remarkable story."
"I cried and laughed and could not stop reading, which is the formula for a five star novel for me!"What reviewers are saying about To Defy a King
"...juicy chunks of violent medieval history you can enjoy in the climate-controlled safety of your own home." -USA Today
"The characters are wonderful fleshed out, individual, not stereotypical and graceful. The blend of action scenes and emotional scenes are well balanced."-The Maiden's Court
"Not only will you feel as though you are really in the story, but you will gasp in shock, smile, chuckle here and there, and at one point, shed a tear or two."-Book BabeWhat people are saying about bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick
"A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here." USA Today
"Elizabeth Chadwick is to Medieval England what Philippa Gregory is to the Tudors and the Stuarts, and Bernard Cornwall to the Dark Ages."-Books Monthly, UK
"The best writer of medieval fiction currently around." -Historical Novels Review
"Chadwick is an icon for the historical fiction community for her ability to create a believable and passionate story based around major events of the era."-The Burton Review
"Breathing life into historical personages is hallmark Chadwick."-RT Book Reviews
"Picking up an Elizabeth Chadwick novel is like having a Bentley draw up at your door: you know you are in for a sumptuous ride." Daily Telegraph
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To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick (Rated: C)
Published 2011Trade Paperback, 498 pages
Reviewed by Sandra
To Defy a King is the story of Mahelt Marshal, the oldest and beloved daughter of William Marshal, a dominant player in the political intrigues of 13th century England.
The account begins in 1204. Cruel King John, brother of Richard the Lionheart of Robin Hood fame sits on the throne. At the Marshal family home in Berkshire, eleven-year-old, high-spirited Mahelt is told that she is to be betrothed to 21-year-old Hugh Bigod, the son of the Earl of Norfolk, a rich and powerful man. Daughters were valuable because they could be used to make important alliances and Mahelt agrees to fulfill her role. Mahelt remains with her family until “she is of an age for successful child-bearing.” (Do I hear feminists voicing their collective angst?) She marries Hugh about 3 years later and produces their first son in 1209. Ever independently-minded, she refuses to be a brood mare and gives birth every 2 or 3 years. Yes, even in the 1200’s savvy women exist!
The author did an amazing job of bringing Mahelt to life. The reader watches her grow from a young, untried tomboy frolicking with her brothers to a capable woman. She manages the castle of her marital family when the chatelaine of it dies. In the context of those times it represents a lot of hard work, from cheese-making to brewing the daily ale to sheep-raising and, of course, the inevitable “women’s work” – embroidery.
A sinister portrait is drawn of King John. Slaughter and bloodshed are rife in the 13th century and King John sets the tone. His threats and predatory intimidation of women, including his own sister-in-law, are clearly reported. Mahelt dislikes and distrusts the King. Despite threats to her family she vehemently defies him when he attempts to seduce her. Although he knows that she is the daughter of his most prominent knight and supporter, his tactics are designed to flex his power over her and her family. His despotism erupts in his wanton slaughter of 20 Welsh prisoners, including a small boy. Mahelt’s own sister-in-law and her baby are murdered by John’s assassins in the family home. Noble knights and barons are disgusted at his behavior and set out to create a charter of rights to control the King – the eventual Magna Carta. However, Mahelt’s own father has sworn loyalty to the King and as an honourable man refuses to act against him. Family loyalty is put to the test.
King John dies suddenly. A new young king is on the throne, supported by the regent, William Marshal, and the country is freed of tyranny for the moment. Mahelt has borne her third son, is reconciled with her husband and the future looks rosy.
This is an excellent book for lovers of historical fiction, 13-th century England, and strong women.