Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book Review: The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick


Synopsis: (From the Publisher)
"William Marshal returns in this sequel to The Greatest Knight with the older and wiser William well settled with his wife, Isabelle de Clare, and their ever-growing brood. However, he is now in uneasy service to King John, who suspects William for his ties to John's late brother Richard I, but cannot openly despise the powerful earl's allegiance. Still, ever spiteful John systematically strips William of titles, power, honors, and even his son, Will, who the king demands as his squire. Then John dies suddenly, and William must take the rebellious kingdom in hand and assume the regency. Chadwick delivers another accomplished historical, albeit without the thrills of its predecessor. Like William, the story is too settled and comfortable to be as exciting as the story of the young knight on the rise, but the in-depth exploration of the intrigues of King John's court is riveting. Isabelle remains a powerful noblewoman and excellent match for William."


My Review:

William Marshall is a knight who commands respect, a respect that is well deserved and freely given. In the beginning of this thrilling book we first meet William, a fearless and experienced leader, storming the castle at Milli. After a successful battle, William is joined by his sovereign King Richard I and it is instantly apparent the amount of respect William has for him. Everything is going smoothly for England with Richard as King but a sudden and fatal sickness overtakes the him and throws England at the mercy of Prince John, the new King of England. As the treacherous and twisted King John assumes the role of England's Monarch, William pledges his full loyalty, as is his duty, but has constant vigilance in all dealings with him.

On the Marshall lands in Normandy, William and his wife Isabelle have led a happy life and are continuously blessed with children. Unfortunately, their peaceful existence begins to crumble as King John repeatedly makes them prove their loyalty to him. By the king's command, two of their sons are sent to be squires for the king but in all reality they are his hostages, insuring the Marshall's loyalty. King John's unfounded suspicions are still not put to ease and he continuously attempts to break William's spirit by stripping him of titles, land, wealth and humiliating him in front of other lords of the land. Through all this, William never wavers and is ever loyal to King John; even when invasion by the French is imminent and he is forced to fight against his own son in battle.

When things look bleakest for William and his family, things suddenly change when news arrives of King John's sudden death. Peace for the Marshall family is thought to be in sight but their troubles are far from over. William now finds himself regent of England since the new King is just a child. England is a country split in two and it is up to William to bring things to order, giving England the long awaited peace it deserves.

As deadly political games are played and power hungry traitors lurk everywhere, William must find the strength to outwit his enemies in order to protect England and his family from unfathomable destruction.


In this sweeping tale of medieval England, Elizabeth Chadwick creates a intriguing and delightful story full of  gallantry, tournaments, treachery and a love story for the ages. The words flow freely from the pages and envelope you in a story so real that you find yourself having the same intense emotions as the characters. William Marshall was such an endearing and three dimensional figure that after reading 549 pages I was sad to finish and close the book. The Scarlet Lion is a sequel to The Greatest Knight; both following the life of William Marshall. Since I have not read The Greatest Knight, I can definitely say that The Scarlet Lion is able to stand alone in the series and although it follows the second half of his life, it does hinder the reader from wanting to know the his beginning and reading the first book. After reading this amazing novel, I am greatly looking forward to reading much more of Elizabeth Chadwick's spectacular work.






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