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Spirited daughter. Rebellious wife. Powerful woman.
The adored and spirited daughter of England's greatest knight, Mahelt Marshal lives a privileged life. But when her beloved father falls foul of 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 ...
Spirited daughter. Rebellious wife. Powerful woman.
The adored and spirited daughter of England's greatest knight, Mahelt Marshal lives a privileged life. But when her beloved father falls foul of 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, not knowing if she-or her marriage-will survive.
A brilliant story of a vibrant woman in a tyrant's world, To Defy a King is another impeccably researched masterpiece from a beloved author.
"The best writer of medieval fiction." -Historical Novels Review
"I rank Elizabeth Chadwick with such historical novelist stars as Dorothy Dunnett and Anya Seton." -Sharon Kay Penman, New York Times bestselling author of Devil's Brood
"Brilliantly weaving a strong plotline, historical accuracy, depth of character, and dialogue filled with intelligence and wit...Elizabeth Chadwick is one of the very best of historical fiction authors." -Passages to the Past
"When Elizabeth Chadwick writes about history, you feel like you are there in the thick of it." -Long and Short Reviews
"Chadwick again captures the inherent complexity of medieval alliances and rivalries in this irresistibly readable historical romance featuring a willful and wily heroine ensnared in a particularly thorny political hornet's nest. Chadwick's characters step directly off the pages of history into this fresh fictional reimagining of a perilous time and place." - Booklist
"Ms. Chadwick has a way of telling her stories that pulls me from my current surroundings and submerges me in the place of her tale. Her eye for detail AND storytelling is so good that you forget where and almost who you are and just join the characters in the book." - The Broken Teepee
"I highly recommend reading To Defy A King, and for that matter all of Ms. Chadwick's books. They are really a true treat to read. I found I tucked myself into bed quite early at night just so I could read their story for hours and hours." - History Undressed
"Ms. Chadwick's reputation precedes her, but her actual writing exceeds her reputation by a mile. I was really taken by the ease with which Elizabeth writes about history.There wasn't a dull moment in this book." - Reading Extravaganza
"After reading four of Elizabeth Chadwick's books I don't think that there is anything she can do wrong in writing this genre. The characters are wonderful — fleshed out, individual, not stereotypical and graceful. The blend of action scenes and emotional scenes are well balanced. You come away from each of these books wanting more!" - The Maiden's Court
"One of my favourite medieval authors, the super talented Ms. Chadwick, is at it again with her latest offering, To Defy a King. I always marvel at how easily she seems to bring these characters to life all the while helping her 21st century readers understand and appreciate times from long ago." - Book Drunkard
"4/5 Excellent! This vivid and engrossing tale of a noble daughter's life will draw you in, so set aside a few hours for the reading!" - drey's library
"You know you can't go wrong with Elizabeth Chadwick's writing, as she has gained fans around the world. I doubt anyone bothers reading this review because of the fact that almost everyone has the same opinions of her..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
"With vivid immediacy, To Defy a King tells a story of politics in the vicious era leading to the Magna Carta, which is also a moving and sexy love story and, above all, the story of a woman who refused to tolerate demeaning and abusive treatment - even from her king - in a time when many women simply accepted it as their lot. " - HistoricalNovels.Info
"I have to be honest and say that this was the first book of Elizabeth Chadwicks that I have read and I was very impressed with her writing. The author wrote of these characters and timeframe with as much historical accuracy that can be put in a work of fiction. I can see why To Defy A King is Historical Novel of the Year by the Romantic Novelists' Association. So congrats to Elizabeth on a great book! " - CelticLady's Reviews
"Each and every time I read a book by Elizabeth Chadwick I am certain she has written the perfect book that cannot be topped. And each and every time I read her next book, I find I am wrong." - Thoughts from Lady Tess
"She seamlessly weaved historical facts with real life characters and events in to breathtaking historical fiction. She captured my imagination and my heart.
Elizabeth Chadwick to me, in a Queen of historical Fiction." - So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
"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." - Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
"If you are like me and love travelling back in time, I think you'll want to devour Elizabeth Chadwick's books. " - He followed me home
"This is a great Middle Ages biographical fiction that enables fans of Elizabeth Chadwick to feel they are "living the history". " - Genre Go Round Reviews
" I recommend this book to anyone who loves strong female characters and/or historical fiction. This is the first book I read by Ms. Chadwick — I know it won't be my last." - Martha's Bookshelf
"This is an excellent book for lovers of historical fiction, 13-th century England, and strong women." - Library of Clean Reads
"It is a fantastic book that I highly recommend. Elizabeth Chadwick books seem to get better and better and she is now one of my favourite historical authors." - Queen of Happy Endings
"Characters you care about. Or loathe. Atmosphere so pungent you can almost smell it. And juicy chunks of violent medieval history you can enjoy in the climate-controlled safety of your own home. A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here." - USA Today
"I alternated between biting my nails for them and tearing up. It was nice to be reminded that true love can conquer all." - First for Women
"It's not fair!" Ten-year-old Mahelt Marshal scowled at her older brothers who were immersed in a boys' game involving a pretend raid on an enemy castle. "Why can't I be a knight?"
"Girls don't go raiding," Will answered with the superiority that came from being male, almost fourteen, and heir to the Earldom of Pembroke.
She made a grab for his horse's reins and he snatched them out of her reach.
"Girls stay at home and embroider and bear children. Only men go to war."
"Women have to defend the castle when their lords are away," she pointed out. "Mama does-and you have to obey her." Tossing her head, she looked at Richard, who was twelve and could sometimes be persuaded to take her part; but, although a broad grin sprawled across his freckled face, he didn't leap to her defence.
"She has to do our lord father's bidding when he returns," Will retorted. "Papa doesn't send her out with a lance in her hand while he stays at home, does he?"
"I can pretend; it's all pretend anyway." Mahelt was determined not to be bettered. "You're not a man."
Richard's grin widened as Will flushed. "Let her defend the castle," he said. "She might have to do it one day when she's married."
Will rolled his eyes, but gave in. "All right, but she's not a knight, and she's not riding Equus."
"Of course not."
"And she can be the French. We're the English."
"That's not fair!" Mahelt protested again.
"Don't play then," Will said indifferently.
She shot her brothers a fulminating look. She wanted to ride Will's new mount because it was a proper, big, glossy horse, not a pony. She wanted to jump him over hedges as Will did and see how fast she could make him gallop. She wanted to feel the wind in her hair. Will had called him Equus, which he said was the Latin name the scribes wrote meaning "warhorse." Richard's docile grey wasn't the same challenge, and she had almost outgrown her own dumpy little chestnut, which was stabled up with a leg strain. She knew she could ride as well as either of her brothers.
Heaving a sigh, she stumped off with bad grace to defend the "castle," which for the purposes of the game was the kennelkeeper's hut. Here were stored the collars and leashes for the hounds, old blankets, hunting horns, various tools, baskets, and bowls. A shelf at Mahelt's eye level held chubby earthenware pots of salve for treating canine injuries. Mahelt took one down, removed the lid of plaited straw, and immediately recoiled from the vile stench of rancid goose grease.
"Ready?" she heard Richard shout.
Her left arm crooked around the pot, Mahelt emerged from the shed and, with a resolute jaw, faced the youths, who were fretting their mounts. Both boys bore makeshift lances fashioned from ash staves, and gripped their practice shields at the ready.
Uttering simultaneous yells, the brothers charged. Knowing they expected her to lose her courage and dash back inside the shed, Mahelt stood her ground. She scooped up a handful of grease, feeling it cold and squidgy-soft between her fingers, and lobbed it at the oncoming horses. Will ducked behind his shield, which took the first impact, but Mahelt's next dollop struck him over the rawhide rim, splattering his cloak and the side of his neck. Another scoop burst on the shoulder of Richard's grey. His efforts to control his shying mount left him exposed and her fourth handful landed a direct hit to his face.
"Hah! You're both dead!" She leaped gleefully up and down.
"I win, I win!" Triumph burned in her solar plexus. That was showing them.
Will was off his horse like lightning. Mahelt shrieked and tried to run inside the shed, but he was too fast and caught her arm. She spun round in his grip and struck his chest with her salve-covered hand, smearing his cloak with rancid grease.
"It's dishonourable to hit a lady!" she cried as he raised a threatening fist.
Will looked at his bunched knuckles and, lowering his arm, gave her a disgusted shove instead. "Look what you've done to my cloak! I pity whoever gets you to wife. You're a hoyden." Mahelt raised her chin, determined not to show remorse or be browbeaten. "But I still won," she said. "Against both of you."
"Will, leave her," Richard said with exasperation, wiping his face. "Let's go. There are better places to practise. We'd get more hurled at us in a real battle than handfuls of old grease."
With a final glare, Will flung round and remounted Equus. "It looks as if you've lost after all," he said as he gathered his reins.
Through a blur of angry tears she watched her brothers ride away. Raising her hand to wipe her eyes, she found the stink of the salve on her fingers suddenly unbearable. She was cold, hungry, and empty. Her victory was a hollow one and she was going to be in trouble for wasting the hound-keeper's salve and dirtying her brothers' clothes. She returned the pot to its shelf and closed the shed door. When she turned round, she jumped, because Godfrey, her father's under-chamberlain, was standing behind her. "Your parents are seeking you, young mistress." He wrinkled his nose. "God's eyes, what have you been doing?"
"Nothing." She gave him an imperious look to cloak her guilt. "Defending the castle."
Godfrey said nothing, but his gaze was eloquent.
"What do they want?" Facing both parents at once was generally reserved for serious misdemeanours. Her mother had eyes in the back of her head, but surely she couldn't know about the grease-throwing yet and Mahelt couldn't think of anything else she had done recently to warrant such a command.
"I do not know, young mistress. Your lady mother just said to fetch you."
Decidedly on her guard, Mahelt followed him to the solar, pausing on the way to sluice her hands in the trough and wipe them on a net of hay tied to the stable wall.
Her mother and father were sitting before the hearth in their private chamber, and she saw a glance flicker between them as she entered. She could sense an atmosphere, but it wasn't angry. Gilbert and Walter, her two younger brothers, were playing a dice game on the floor and a nurse was attending to her little sisters, Belle aged four, and two-year-old Sybire.
Her mother patted the bench and Mahelt came to sit in the space her parents had made for her between them. The fire embraced her with warmth. The hangings were drawn across the window shutters and the mellow glow from numerous beeswax candles made the room feel cosy and welcoming. Her mother smelled wonderfully of roses and the arm she slipped around Mahelt to cuddle her was tender and maternal. Mahelt decided her brothers were welcome to their silly game. Parental attention was better, especially if she wasn't in trouble. She thought it odd that her father was holding her floppy cloth doll in his big hands and looking at it in a pensive manner. Seeing her watching him, he put it down and smiled, but his eyes were serious.
"You remember a few weeks ago, the Christmas court at Canterbury?" he asked.
She nodded. "Yes, Papa." It had been lovely-all the feasting and dancing and celebration. She had felt so grown up, being allowed to mingle with the adults. She had been wary of King John because she knew her mother disliked him, but she thought the jewels he wore around his neck were magnificent. Sapphires and rubies, so her cousin Ela had said, all the way from Sarandib.
"You remember Hugh Bigod?"
"Yes, Papa." The heat from the fire was suddenly hot on her face. She picked up her doll and began fussing with it herself. Hugh was grown up, but he had partnered her in a circle dance, clasping her hand and winding her through the chain. Later he had organised games of hoodman blind and hunt the slipper for the younger ones, joining in himself with great enthusiasm. He had a rich singing voice and a smile that made her stomach flutter, although she didn't know why. One day he would be Earl of Norfolk.
Posted September 14, 2011
The first book I read written by Elizabeth Chadwick was a Free Friday book called The Greatest Knight. Truthfully? I was expecting a nothing book to fill times I needed to be doing something. What I read was amazing. As a historical author, Elizabeth Chadwick created a world that we have never seen. Filled with historical fact, using that information to bring life to the people she writes about. With a good 'inner eye' because of the way she writes you feel you truly know the people she writes about and the life they lived. To Defy a King delves into the live of Mahelt Marshall, daughter of William Marshall, labeled in english history as the greatest knight because of his loyalty, honesty, fairness and strong sense of family. During a time when women were honoured but not respected beyond bearing children, Mahelt stood strong to how she was raised, became partner to her husband and a strong influence to people around her.
History come to life, with all it's excitement, sadness, drama and humor. That's what you get in this book - and any from Elizabeth Chadwick!! THANK YOU!
35 out of 39 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This is the 4th book by Elizabeth Chadwick that I have read in the last three weeks and I was sad to part with the Marshals and Bigods when I finished. I love the huge window she opens into a very turbulent time with women who are more than chattel and men who knew the meaning of honor and chivalry. The eldest daughter of William Marshal and Isabelle deClare must have been special and this book shows her path as she winds her way from childhood as the cherished eldest daughter in the lively Marshal household through her often prickly path as a new bride, mother and chatelaine in the much more restrained Bigod household. As usual, the characters are richly drawn amid the events of King John's reign. Totally awesome!! I have been fascinated with William Marshal and his family for over 25 years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about him in these past four novels. I cannot wait for more of her bookis to make the transition to NOOKbooks!!
17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2011
In 1204 daughter of renowned British knight William Marshal, fourteen year old Mahelt "Matty" Marshal marries Hugh Bigod, heir to the earldom of Norfolk in a politically arranged deal between two powerful families. Over the next few years, the pair shares a deep regard for one another that turns to love as they raise their four children.
The serene rustic lifestyle ends for Matty and Hugh when King John begins systematically abducting her family. He arrests the heir to the Pembroke earldom, Matty's brother Will; and follows that with incarcerating her other sibling Richard. Finally King John goes after her famous father, who has made it clear he is against the monarch's avaricious stealing of land. Matty resolutely tries to get her family free while also remaining loyal to her husband and their children; not easy to achieve when contradictions and conflict are the norm.
This is a great Middle Ages biographical fiction that enables fans of Elizabeth Chadwick to feel they are "living the history". The story line is character driven mostly by the heroine although the support cast especially her two families enhance the heroine's dilemma of being caught in the middle of rescuing her birth family and yet not endangering her married family. Readers will enjoy Matty's efforts to walk a thin red line as she knows not to waste her time pleading For the King's Favor since the Marshal kin are persona non grata, but cannot remain idly on the sidelines.
12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 8, 2011
If you read the William Marshal book, The Greatest Knight, this is a continuation of the story of his daughter. Mahelt tells her story and you see the world and the world of her father through her eyes. I loved this book and wish that there were more.
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 12, 2011
This author knows how to write historical fiction and back it up with facts! Obviously, she spends inordinate amounts of time researching before she writes her novels. At the end of the book, she almost tells another story about the facts and how she found them, what it means, etc. Fascinating!
This story is of emotional power set against the road to Magna Carta and the fight to bring a tyrant king to heel. What courage it took in those days to defy a king, no matter how powerful and rich you were. Everything could be taken away, including your children, at the whim of a cruel, morally corrupt king.
The characters were so interesting, and it thrills me to know they actually existed! Chadwick brought me to tears...and laughter, many times. I felt as if they were *my* family. That's the way I like to be affected and drawn in by characters in a book.
Wonderful book, can't wait to read more Elizabeth Chadwick!
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 25, 2011
I Also Recommend:
This book was fabulous - felt like you were stepping back in time. I loved how Chadwick continued the story of the Marshall that served the 1st King Henry and his sons. The Marshall was a key component to the success of this line of kings. Hence, his daughter was an image of him - moreso then his sons it seems. The story is longer, there are some parts of the politics that were a little over done, but overall the story is fantasic.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 13, 2012
Well written, obviously well researched. Not something I went tearing through either. If you like medival historical novels, you will enjoy this.,. The characters are human and flawed, a very good thing.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 21, 2011
Another amazing spirited emotional read from Elizabeth Chadwick. This is a great follow up to The Scarlet Lion. This time Chadwick takes us on the journey of Mahelt Marshal (William's strong willed daughter.) If you have not read The Scarlet Lion that is OK. This is a stand alone book. If you love History and have not read Chadwick, you are missing out!
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2012
Took me FOREVER to read! It wasn't bad, I just found it really easy to put down and because it didn't really captivate me until the very end, I can only give it two stars...
2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 7, 2012
I was disappointed. The story sounded interesting, but I thought the writing rather flat and the transitions between sections was not as smooth as it could be.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2012
This book is a romance novel. Although i am sure the historical facts were correct they seem to have been thrown in as an afterthought. I had to struggle to finish it only because i had paid for it. Nook needs to reassign the genre on this one.
1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2012
While I enjoy this time period, the style of writing by Elizabeth Chadwick is fairly shallow and unimaginative. I do have this book on my Nook, but did not finish it. I perhaps will go back to it when I have nothing else to read.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 13, 2013
Posted October 15, 2012
I read The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion and then To Defy a King. These are all about the William Marshall Family. When you read these books, it is like you are transported back in time. She also pays a lot of attention to documented details. I have enjoyed all there of these books, and was sorry when they were finished.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 15, 2012
Another great book in the life and times of William Marshal! I have really enjoyed this series. If you love historical fiction you'll love this series. Best when read in order.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 7, 2012
Posted April 25, 2012
Posted April 15, 2012
Posted March 26, 2012
I'm enjoying this book. The story is captivating and well written. This is the story of my 21st grandparents, so it personally has been verying interesting to me. The dates appear to be historically accurate; and, weaving it into an interesting emotional story makes it a worthwhile read for anyone who likes historical novels.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.