Monday 28 February 2011

Review: To Defy A King - Elizabeth Chadwick

Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 560
To be Published: March 1st 2011 Sourcebooks Landmark (2010 first pub)

A story of huge emotional power set against the road to Magna Carta and the fight to bring a tyrant king to heel.The privileged daughter of one of the most powerful men in England, Mahelt Marshal's life changes dramatically when her father is suspected by King John. Her brothers become hostages and Mahelt is married to Hugh Bigod, heir to the earldom of Norfolk. Adapting to her new life is hard, but Mahelt comes to love Hugh deeply; however, defying her father-in-law brings disgrace and heartbreak. When King John sets out to subdue the Bigods, Mahelt faces a heartbreaking battle, fearing neither she, nor her marriage, is likely to survive the outcome .

My thoughts:
Another great book by Chadwick. It's a fascinating era with a cruel king, and the daily struggle to survive the political turmoil.

This is the story of Mahelt Marshal and Hugh Bigod, who married because of an alliance. Her father is not always King John's favorite person, and her brothers are taken to become his hostages, while the rest of the family goes to Ireland. King John tries to keep his country together, but he takes out more taxes, and tries to seduce his noble's wives. All while The Bigod's try to keep their heads down.

I did like Mahelt, but she was also a bit of a, oh I do not know, but she could be irritating. She did one truly foolish thing, and then she complained. She also talked back and sure she wanted to do what is right so that was sort of good. But during that time you could not just do the right thing. That would get you killed. Sometimes one has to follow and wait for a better opportunity. Also like Hugh mentions in the book, his family did the same thing the Marshal's did, but she never found in fault in her family. I just felt like she was lucky to have a husband like Hugh, cos someone else would have surely slapped her around. I was also a bit sad to see how Roger's and Ida's marriage had turned out (The King's Favor.)

Ok, a long passage about poor Mahelt. Do not get me wrong, this was amazing historical fiction because of the setting. King John is a total creep, Hugh's half-brother Longspee is an ass. It's the time of the Magna Charta, wars with France, trouble with Scotland and Wales. The political intrigues are great, and the Bigod's were a family in the midst of it all.

And again Chadwick has taken people that has lived a long time ago and given them life. Sure some things might be wrong since much has been lost, and there is always artistic freedom. But I like the tale told. This was truly a time I had to stop myself from going online to see what truly happened. Instead I waited it out so not to spoil this book.

Recommendation and final thoughts:
A big yes for historical fans. There is love, war, politics, a wicked king and the daily life of a noble family in 13th century England. I could not put it down.

Reason for reading:
The time, the author.

A bit pretty but not really for me, and I do not get the crown.


  1. Ooh, good review. Glad to see you liked it. I pre-ordered it for my Kindle!

  2. I have a YA book of hers that I have been meaning to read forever! Kissed By An Angel. This looks fabulous too.

  3. Great review - the book lands firmly on my TBR pile. But wait...if you like it does it mean I won't like it? I must check it out!

  4. I don't read a lot of historical fiction set in that time period, but really do want to try one of Chadwick's books.

  5. Nice review, I love what you said about the author taking historical figures we may not be able to easily relate to and giving them life:) I need to read more historical fiction, I'm making that a goal for this year:)

  6. Great review! I am glad you mentioned that Mahelt annoyed me- I have a feeling she would get on my nerves, too ;-) But if the story's good... that always helps!

  7. Oh I haven't heard of this one before but it sounds perfect for me!

  8. @Mary
    I hope you like it too. She is a great writer, and the time, oh the time

    A YA book, she has published YA? *goes to google*

    You always seem to dislike the books I like ;) So funny. I would love to get one right once

  9. I love this time period! King John was bad, but he at least made things interesting and even though he did not exactly want to yield to his noblemen, Magna Carta is one of the (rare) good things that came from him. Yes, I want to read this!

  10. @Bermuda
    It's one of the time periods I really like (I blame the dresses, knights and castles)

    I hope you read more historical fiction. it is one genre I have read and loved all my life. And especially this time period.

    I mean she was great, and all. But she never thought about the consequences if she got it her way

  11. Great review! After reading Elizabeth Chadwick's books, I always want to do my own research on that time period. She really makes the middle ages come to life!

  12. I've so wanted to read this! Maybe when it comes out in paperback ;)
    I usually love her book covers but this isn't for me.

  13. Wonderful review, but you really need to stop reading books that you highly recommend! LOL. My TBR list is really filling up. ;-)

  14. @Irena
    What a King, but yes you are right. A King like that sure makes it an interesting story for he was up to a lot

    I sure wanted that too, and even though I have done it before, I wanna go and trace to see what happened to their kids, grand kids and so on :)

    I have seen another cover for this book and that was actually prettier.

    I know, I know, i am evil! Pure evil. What can I say, I have read a lot of good books lately

  15. I love this review...I like Chadwick. It'll be probably the whole war time before I can get to this one. But somehow some day!!

    And you are way better than I. I wouldn't be able to stop myself from going online to find out what really happened historically. It often ruins me. lol!

  16. You have made me look more and more at historical fiction. I love it when they bring characters to life. Oh what a great review!

  17. Elizabeth Chadwick is another author I've heard about but haven't read yet.

  18. awesome review!! i'm reading this one soon! So is this the son from her previous book??

  19. I want to read this author one day. I've geard good things. This book sounds fantastic.

  20. @Redd
    I almost always do that, but this time I managed to keep myself in check. There was also a text by Chadwick at the end of the book where she wrote what happened next historically..managed to stay away from that too. Very proud of myself, lol

    *waves to Chris*

    I am glad to hear that :D Cos I do love historical fiction. Those times gone by are wonderful and horrible at the same time

  21. @MYstica
    She sure is :D

    Then you sure should give her a go :) You wont regret it

    Yes he was born in The Kings Favor, Ida and Roger's son :)

  22. @Naida
    I hope you do, I loved her books when I was a teenager, and now I love them again

  23. Glad you liked it. I swear one day I will read one of her books.

  24. If you couldn't put it down then I'm hoping that is how it will be for me when I get to my copy!!

  25. @Jenny
    Since you swore right now I will hold you to that promise, lol

    I sure hope you will like it too! It was the story for me, because those times could be so brutal



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