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To Defy a King: Vivid and engrossing medieval historical fiction (William Marshal Book 5) Kindle Edition

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Length: 561 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A majestic High Middle Ages series continues in Chadwick's latest (after For the King's Favor) as Mahelt "Matty" Marshal, the daughter of legendary British knight William Marshal, becomes a bride at 14. Though the marriage, to Hugh Bigod, future earl of Norfolk, is arranged, Matty is open to it and embraces the passion that eventually comes. She bears Bigod four children and enjoys a peaceful life until tyrannical King John takes her paternal family hostage, first her brother Will, heir to the earldom of Pembroke, then her brother Richard, and finally her father, who has openly opposed the king's greed and land-grabbing. Matty's determination to save her father and brothers while also standing by her husband and keeping her new family safe creates both conflict and, ultimately, joyous rewards in a well-told saga filled with just the right amount of exacting period detail. Both longtime fans and readers new to Chadwick's series will be thrilled. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Chadwick (For the King�s Favor, 2010) 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. Married at an indecently young age, Mahelt Matty Marshal, beloved daughter of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, eventually permits herself to fall in love with her husband, Hugh Bigod, heir to the earldom of Pembroke, as she adapts to life in a new household. Unfortunately, during the reign of the infamous king John, trouble inevitably looms on the horizon. When Matty�s father falls out of favor with the king, and her brothers are taken hostage, her loyalties are painfully divided between her birth family and her marriage family. As her resolve and her allegiances are tested by cruel circumstances, she must decide who and what she is willing to risk in defiance of the king. Chadwick�s characters step directly off the pages of history into this fresh fictional reimagining of a perilous time and place. --Margaret Flanagan

Product Details

  • File Size: 3204 KB
  • Print Length: 561 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (March 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004MME70G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,564 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Elizabeth Chadwick is a best selling, award winning author of historical fiction. A born storyteller, her first novel The Wild Hunt won a Betty Trask Award in 1990. She has been four times shortlisted for the RNA Award in the UK for the best mainstream romantic novel. Her book The Scarlet Lion was selected as one of the top ten works of historical fiction of the decade by Richard Lee, founder of The Historical Novel Society.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Misfit VINE VOICE on May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
To Defy a King is the story of Mahelt, the eldest and most beloved daughter of my favorite hunk in history, William Marshal. Preparing an extended trip to get their lands in Ireland under control, Mahelt's parents are anxious to see her married before they leave and to that end she is betrothed to Hugh Bigod, the son of Roger Bigod the powerful Earl of Norfolk. While still too young for the marriage bed, Mahelt and Hugh are married and she joins the Bigods at Framlingham Castle, although the very-independent-minded Mahelt and set-in-his-ways Roger don't always see eye to eye.

When Mahelt reaches her fifteenth birthday she and Hugh are able to consummate their marriage and begin building a family together, but their happiness is ultimately threatened by the escalating tensions between King John and his barons. Hugh also has a lot of tension of his own to deal with from his half-brother William Longespée, who is quite full of himself and his relationship to the King (he is John's half-brother through his mother Ida see more about that in The Time Of Singing);

"...although for Longespée attendance on John was a validation of his royal blood and an opportunity to pose in fine clothes."

The conflicts finally lead to open revolt against the King and Mahelt finds herself torn between loyalty to the Bigods who want to oust John and her father who swore fealty to John and is honor bound to keep it. And what of her beloved brothers who have been held hostage for years by John to ensure her father's loyalty?

"Do not talk to me of God. I have been supping with the Devil...I thought I had a long enough spoon, but I was wrong.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mahelt Marshal is the eldest daughter of William Marshal, one of the most respected and influential knights in England. During King John's turbulent reign, William Marshal is suspected of treachery and with two sons being held hostage he seeks to make an advantageous marriage for his daughter. A marriage to Hugh Bigod, the son of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk is arranged, and Mahelt moves to Framlingham to live with her new family.

This is Mahelt's story during the period from January 1204 to September 1217. It is the story of a proud Marshal daughter growing into a young woman and realising that a Bigod wife is sometimes required to have different allegiances than a Marshal daughter. In the meantime, the reign of King John is creating political and religious upheaval, and both the Marshals and the Bigods are in danger. Mahelt and Hugh's marriage is also under threat as allegiances and loyalties are challenged.

I enjoyed this novel. Ms Chadwick brings medieval England to life by deftly recreating the physical world and the mindsets of the period. This makes it easier for the 21st century reader to appreciate why the 13th characters behave the way they do.

While this novel can be read as a standalone, I'd recommend reading Ms Chadwick's other novels about the Marshal (The Greatest Knight; The Scarlet Lion; A Place Beyond Courage) and Bigod (The Time of Singing) families first.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By MusingCrow VINE VOICE on July 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I must admit to being a huge Elizabeth Chadwick fan - which is why I ordered this prior to it's release in the States. Check out the Book Depository for tittles that you simply can't wait to read. They have excellent service, great selection and FREE shipping no less!

I loved this book and read it while I was recuperating. It was the perfect book for getting lost in another time and place! It recounts the life of Mahelt Marshall - eldest daughter of greatest knight of all William Marshall. The action takes place during the reign of King John - when, it seems everyone, even those most loyal to the crown as William Marshall was, are suspected of treason for one reason or another. Quite honestly this book made me want to read more about King John because he comes across as a neurotic, paranoid kind of man who thinks that all of his subjects are out to over through him (hummmm - maybe they were - that might make sense come to think of it!). He holds two of William Marshal's sons captives as surety for William's allegiance. I got bad vibes about this King just from reading the book.

With his sons held captive William Marshall arranges an advantageous marriage for his beloved daughter Mahelt to Hugh Bigod, son of the Earl of Norfolk Roger Bigod. This book is the story of Mahelt's marriage, and, in a way, of her "coming of age" when women were thought of as little more than breeding machines. The book covers the years 1204 to 1217. The books skillfully tells the tale of the Mahelt's family allegiance to her father came into conflict to her marriage family's ambitions at times. He marriage to Hugh is tested as as the vicissitudes and tyranny of John's reign causes both as well as religious upheaval within the country.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on August 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
To Defy a King is the story of Mahelt Marshal, eldest daughter of the famous William Marshal--who appears as the main character in two of Chadwick's previous novels, and a minor character in a handful of others. As the oldest daughter of one of the most famous men in England, Mahelt married Hugh Bigod. The novel covers a period of about ten years, from Mahelt's marriage to Hugh up through the Magna Carta.

I do love Elizabeth Chadwick's novels; her writing really takes her reader back in time. But for some reason, I just didn't love this one quite as much. Maybe because there's so much less known about Mahelt than about her father, her character seems a lot sketchier here. Still, I thought Chadwick did a wonderful job of trying to ring her and Hugh to life. Hahelt matures as a character, but it's too abrupt; at one point she's running off to meet her brother in secret, the next she's a responsible young chatelaine. Maybe having children made her more mature and responsible, but it happened too suddenly for me.

Another frequent theme that pops up in the novel is loyalty; the Bigods and Marshals were on different sides of the King John conflict. Who should Mahelt side with: the family she was born into or the side that her adoptive family is on? Like a previous reviewer, I thought that Chadwick should have focused more on the internal struggle that Mahelt faces--and there's a lot of opportunity to deal with the topic in this novel.

Still, as I've said before, Chadwick really knows how to get her reader into the mindset of her medieval characters. Her research is always detailed, and her descriptions of the time and place in which her novels are set are always absorbing.
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