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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick



The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full (549 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Cholla

Following early beginnings as a knight in the English royal household and a champion of the tourneys, William Marshal's prowess and loyalty have been rewarded by the hand in marriage of Isabelle de Clare, heiress to great estates in England, Normandy and Ireland. Now a powerful magnate, William has weathered the difficult years of King Richard's absence on crusade and is currently serving him on campaign in Normandy while Isabelle governs their estates. All the stability William and Isabelle have enjoyed with their young and growing family comes crashing down as Richard dies and his brother John becomes King. Rebellion is stirring throughout the Angevin domains and although John has created William Earl of Pembroke, the friction between the two men leads William and Isabelle to distance themselves in Ireland. The situation escalates, with John holding their sons as hostages and seizing their English lands. The conflict between remaining loyal and rebelling over injustices committed, threatens to tear apart William and Isabelle's marriage and their family...

Take a return trip to England alongside the greatest knight to have ever lived, William Marshal. With the death of King Richard and the rise of Prince John to the throne, all of England is thrown into chaos as the monarchy changes hands yet again. As steadfast as ever, William Marshal pledges his loyalty to the unstable Prince John at the risk of everything he holds dear – his freedom, his family, and his life. And yet, he never wavers on his decisions, knowing always that he does what he must.

Picking up almost immediately where The Greatest Knight left off, The Scarlet Lion continues, telling the story of William’s later years. His children are growing, getting married and bearing grandchildren all around him. The wars that plagued the world during that time period continue to rage and he is forever forced to go into battle for love and for honor. His loyalty is tested both at home and on the battlefront and yet, somehow he never loses faith in himself or his King.

William faces more challenges than ever in this second novel. From his wife’s incessant pleading to visit her home in Ireland to the demands of Prince John and the subsequent removal of his two eldest sons into the King’s safekeeping, he never has a quiet moment to just relax and reflect. However, he takes it in stride, knowing that this has been his life for far longer than he’d admit. His honesty and solid morals help him hold his ground and make the best decisions possible. While he may not always come out a winner, he does usually come out on the better side. As the story progresses, you learn so much about the man behind the name – the father and the husband – and come to respect him even more than before. He was truly a unique man for his times.

When Elizabeth Chadwick writes about history, you feel like you are there in the thick of it. You come to know and love the characters like they were your own family and you root for them to win at every turn. She brings the fixtures of history alive before your eyes. This conclusion to the story of William Marshal is a wonderful novel of history and the great love shared between William and his wife of thirty years, Isabelle de Clare. A definite must read for any lover of history or fan of a good old fashioned love story.

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