The Scarlet Lion

The Scarlet Lion

by Elizabeth Chadwick
4.4 148


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The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Legend of the Greatest Knight Lives On

William Marshal's skill with a sword and loyalty to his word have earned him the company of kings, the lands of a magnate, and the hand of Isabelle de Clare, one of England's wealthiest heiresses. But he is thrust back into the chaos of court when King Richard dies. Vindictive King John clashes with William, claims the family lands for the Crown-and takes two of the Marshal sons hostage. The conflict between obeying his king and rebelling over the royal injustices threatens the very heart of William and Isabelle's family. Fiercely intelligent and courageous, fearing for the man and marriage that light her life, Isabelle plunges with her husband down a precarious path that will lead William to more power than he ever expected.

"Everyone who has raved about Elizabeth Chadwick as an author of historical novels is right." -Devourer of Books on The Greatest Knight

"Elizabeth Chadwick is a gifted novelist and a dedicated researcher; it doesn't get any better than that." -Sharon Kay Penman

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402229992
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 03/01/2010
Edition description: Original
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 312,814
Product dimensions: 6.43(w) x 7.99(h) x 1.25(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Chadwick is the author of 17 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, A Place Beyond Courage, The Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Awards. She won a Betty Trask Award for The Wild Hunt, her first novel.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter One

Fortress of Longueville, Normandy, Spring 1197

Isabelle de Clare, Countess of Leinster and Striguil, wife to King Richard's Marshal, was in labour with their fourth child. "Arse first," announced the midwife, wiping her hands on a length of towel after examining her patient. "Bound to be a boy, they always cause the most trouble."
Isabelle closed her eyes and reclined against the piled bolsters. Throughout the morning the contractions had become steadily more frequent and painful. Her women had unbraided her hair so there would be no bindings about her person to tie the baby in the womb, and the thick, wheat-gold strands spilled over shoulders and engorged breasts to touch her mounded belly. "He" was already late. Her husband had hoped to greet his new offspring before setting out to war ten days ago, but instead had had to bid Isabelle farewell with a kiss at arm's length, her pregnant belly like a mountain between them. It was May now. If she survived bearing this child and he lived through the summer's campaign, they would see each other in the autumn.
For now, he was somewhere deep in the Beauvaisis with his sovereign, and she was wishing she was anywhere but this stuffy chamber undergoing the ordeal of childbirth. A contraction started low in her spine and tightened across her womb. Pain bloomed through her lower body, causing her to gasp and clench her fists. "Always hurts more when they come tail first." The midwife looked shrewdly at Isabelle. "It's not your first; you know what to expect, but infants that enter the world by their backsides have a dangerous passage. Head comes last and that's not good for the babe. Best pray to the blessed Saint Margaret for her help." She indicated the painted wooden image standing on a coffer at the bedside surrounded by a glow of votive candles.
"I have been praying to her every day since I knew I was with child," Isabelle said irritably, not adding that the overdue birth of a baby in the breech position was hardly a happy reward for her devotion. She was coming to abhor the statue. Whoever had carved it had put a sanctimonious expression on its face that fell little short of a smirk.
The next contraction wrung her in its grip and with it the urge to push. The midwife signaled to the girl assisting her and busied herself between Isabelle's thighs. "You should summon your chaplain to christen the child, immediately," she announced, her voice muffled by the raised sheet. "Do you have a name?"
"Gilbert for a boy, and Isabelle for a girl," Isabelle gritted through her teeth as she bore down. The contraction receded. Slumping against the bolsters she panted at one of her women to fetch Father Walter and have him wait in the antechamber.
The next pain seized her, then the next and the next, fierce and hard, no respite now as her body strove to expel the baby from her womb. She sobbed and grunted with effort, tendons cording her throat, her hands gripping those of her attendants hard enough to leave lasting weals on their flesh.
There was a sudden gush of wet heat between her thighs and the midwife groped. "Ah," she said with satisfaction. "I was right, it is a boy. Ha-ha, fine pair of hammers on him too!
Let's see if we can keep him alive to have use of them, eh? Push again, my lady. Not so fast, not so fast. Go gently now." Isabelle bit her lip and struggled not to push as hard as her instincts dictated. Taking the baby's ankles, tugging gently, the midwife drew his torso up and on to Isabelle's abdomen. As the mouth and nose emerged from the birth canal she wiped them clear of blood and mucus, then, watching intently, controlled the emergence of the rest of the head with a gentle hand. Propped on her elbows, Isabelle stared at the baby lying upon her body like a drowned, shipwrecked sailor. His colour was greyish-blue and he wasn't moving. Panic shot through her. "Holy Saint Margaret, is he...?"
The woman lifted the baby by his ankles, swung him gently, and applied a sharp tap to his buttocks, then again. A shudder rippled through him, his little chest expanded, and a wail of protest met the air, uncertain at first, but gathering momentum and infusing his body with a flush of life-giving pink. Righting him, the midwife turned to Isabelle, a smile deepening the creases in her wrinkled cheeks. "Just needed a bit of persuading," she said. "Best have the priest name him though, to be on the safe side." She wrapped him in a warm towel and placed him in Isabelle's arms.
The cord having been cut and the afterbirth expelled and taken away for burial, Isabelle gazed into the birth-crumpled features of her newborn son and, still deeply anxious, watched his shallow breathing. A baffled, slightly quizzical frown puckered his brows. His fists were tightly clenched as if to fight the world into which he had been so brutally initiated. "Gilbert," she said softly. "I wonder what your father is going to make of you." She blew softly against his cheek and gave him her forefinger around which to curl his miniature hand. After a moment, she lifted her gaze from the baby and fixed it on her chamber window and the arch of soft blue sky it framed. Her own ordeal was almost over and, God willing, if she did not take the childbed fever, she would soon be on her feet. Saint Margaret could be thanked with an offering and packed away in her coffer again until needed again. Now she would concentrate on prayers for her husband's safety and ask God to bring him home in one piece to greet their new son.

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Scarlet Lion 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 148 reviews.
Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
Book 2 in the life of William Marshal The first novel "The Greatest Knight" followed William Marshal through his early career and his rise to fortune and noble status. In this novel, we are drawn further into his amazing and inspiring life it also includes some details of his family and those who crossed his path. Ms. Chadwick describes William Marshal as a dashing knight and a champion of tournaments, an easy-going and courteous man, and one who enjoyed the simple pleasures of life but also presented himself as a great magnate when it suited his purposes. He was a man of many talents, an accomplished soldier and a natural commander on battlefields, also a skilled diplomat with a dextrous ability to negotiate. He cared about his men and was very generous towards them. He was fiscally astute and he managed to keep the country from bankruptcy during his period of regency. In a nut shell, he was a respected hero who left behind a legacy hard to follow. Isabelle de Clare, Countess of Pembroke, was not only William`s wife but also his partner and equal. She always maintained her present during council meetings and stayed closed to her husband. She was a woman of strong character and very present in the day to day decisions. In William's absence, she governed the estate with the same dexterity as he would have. 10 pregnancies did not deter her willpower; she was his "Belle amie" throughout their married life, up till his dying breath. She survived him by one year despite their twenty year age difference. The author also covers a mix of individuals that influenced them during their life whether by choice or obligation. The list of people that crossed their path includes: Kings and Queens, Chaplains, members of the aristocracy, as well as some loyal and not so loyal followers. Once again Ms. Chadwick has given me hours of pleasure with this engaging historical fiction. The writing is colourful and lively and the author has stayed as close to history as possible but openly admits to have embellished parts of the facts to make William's life more memorable. This novel can stand on its own but to truly appreciate this time period; I would recommend reading "The Greatest Knight" first. Ms. Chadwick has thrilled me once more with this stunning and captivating story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
William Marshal, the hunky superstar of the Middle Ages. How I wish I could have known him. Elizabeth Chadwick brings him to life in her two wonderful books. When I finished this book, I just held it in my hands because I did not want to leave my time machine and enter the present reality. Sharon Kay Penman has always been my adored favorite author of historical fiction, but, I have to say that Elizabeth Chadwick is now on top. Please read, first, "The Greatest Knight" and then read "The Scarlet Lion." If you love historical fiction, you will love these books.
ITrent164 More than 1 year ago
Grabbed me and pulled me into the story from page 1. What a wonderful look at such a great man and his family. I can't wait for Elizabeth Chadwick's new series in 2013!!
Duckee More than 1 year ago
I have to say, that in reading the first book about William Marshal (The Greatest Knight), I fell a little bit in love with him. The Scarlet Lion is the continuation of his story, and I am still a little bit in love with him. This is an excellent story of a man of honor, although there were times that holding true to his honor did him no favors. I made myself read the last hundred or so pages very slowly, because I just did not want this book to end. I have read four books by Elizabeth Chadwick, now, and I love the way her characters overlap. I know that I will meet William Marshal again in her other books, and I am looking forward to it.
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
To me, this book felt like I was reading one of Sharon Kay Penman's novels. There were some differences but the writing is almost similar and so is the idea of following a family through several years and how they have evolved through that time. It was an interesting historical read, I have never heard of William Marshal and it was a nice history lesson for me. The plot was well written although not as rich in history as say, for example, Sharon Kay Penman's When Christ and his Saints Slept. However, this book is a wonderful family saga as it takes you through William and Isabelle's life with their children, and the historical events surrounding them. There isn't much court intrigue here that I was expecting but I was willing to accept this, as the book was well written. The battle scenes are all right, although I expected a little more detail and more action. What was more central to the plot was mainly William and Isabelle's relationship, their family, and their endless fight against King John and his schemes. King John was every bit the villain here as I expected. He wasn't the explosive tempermental character that I thought he would have been, but more of a cunning, sly, scheming one that was constantly thinking of plots against his men or to have them turn against each other. It's a sneaky sly version of King John. An interesting side of him that I have heardly seen. It's a nice sight to read, as I'm used to seeing a different version of him altogether. I'd have to say, Isabelle is my favorite character. For a woman, and especially one during those times, she's extraordinarily strong and supportive towards William even when it came to her sons becoming "hostages". There was a very strong bond between the two and their love never failed. I thought they were both meant for each other, and complimented each other perfectly. My favorite part would be Isabelle holding off a potential invasion in Ireland. It showed her strength and determination to hold onto her beloved homeland. A few shortfalls do happen in this novel, I thought it was long in some parts, and it seemed to have dragged. It did take me quite a while to finish this book. I guess because it didn't have the intrigue and constant plotting of court life. I also expected a story rich with historical descriptions and lots of historical detail, but it was more of a family saga set in a historical setting. Nevertheless I do suggest fans of historical fiction to give this a read, I did learn quite a few things here and there, especially of the life of William Marshal. Also, there is an element of romance in the novel, it's really nothing that explicit. It's to be expected as William and Isabelle were central to the story. Overall, a good historical read that centralizes around a family saga. I do recommend this to those who enjoy reading stories of Medieval England.
sagacity More than 1 year ago
Fun well written historical fiction. Great leisure read.
Rachelleah More than 1 year ago
William Marshal was a great man and as such became legend. I enjoyed getting to know him and his family. It was a great read with a full spectrum of emotions. Elizabeth Chadwick is one of the greatest historical fiction writers that I have ever read!
Debra Scofield More than 1 year ago
This is the second book and a must read it you liked the Greatest Knight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where William met Queen Eleanor.
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Everything I have researched about this most amazing man has been brought to sparkling life in this book (and the Greatest Knight) . Elizabeth Chadwick honored him and the man he was. I will say it was difficult reading the last few chapters knowing not only his death was imminent, but this book was coming to an end. And yes, I cried for an hour or so after finishing it!
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I wish i knew that this was the 2nd half of the story I'd have read it in order.. this was a well written story with a fast moving pace that kept it interesting without getting too bogged down in boring details..will go and read The Greatest Knight now and look for other stories from this entertaining author!
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