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To Defy A King (William Marshal) Paperback – 18 Aug 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (18 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751541338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751541335
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick has written over 20 historical novels sold in 18 languages worldwide. Her first novel, The Wild Hunt, won a Betty Trask Award, and The Scarlet Lion was nominated by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society, as one of the top ten historical novels of the last decade. Elizabeth's nineteenth novel, To Defy a King, won the RNA Historical Novel Prize in 2011. THE SUMMER QUEEN, the first novel in her stunning Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, will be followed by THE WINTER CROWN and THE AUTUMN THRONE.

Find out more at, Facebook/elizabeth.chadwick and on twitter: @Chadwickauthor

Product Description


As always, Chadwick simply dazzles the reader with her superb characterisation, her ability to bring the period alive, so we feel as if we are walking alongside the characters, seeing what they see, hearing the tumult surrounding them - sharing in their agonies, and celebrating their joys. She has a keen insight too into the minds of her younger characters, and some of the best scenes revolve around the children, in all branches of the families. I cannot commend the work of Chadwick's highly enough - if you enjoy historical fiction, she will surely become a firm favourite, if she isn't already ranking highly in your 'favourite author s' list!'

Book Description

* Winner of the RNA Historical Novel Award 2011

* A spell-binding historical novel set in the 13th century

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Miss Moppet on 21 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
To Defy A King tells the story of Mahelt Marshal, favourite daughter of the powerful William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. At fourteen Mahelt is married to Hugh, eldest son of Roger and Ida Bigod. Hugh's half-brother is William of Salisbury (known as William Longespee), and his half-brother is King John. The book is all about divided loyalties: Hugh and Longespee have an uneasy relationship and Mahelt finds herself caught between the family she was born into and the one she married into. As the country descends into civil war, Hugh and Mahelt find themselves on the opposite side to Longespee and to Mahelt's beloved father.

I wasn't sure at first how much I would like Mahelt, who is very headstrong, a little spoiled and begins the book with a lot of growing up to do. But while she does have the occasional Fallon Carrington moment, once she married Hugh I found myself totally on her side. A paradox of historical fiction is that while readers usually prefer feisty heroines, in the past assertiveness was not appreciated in women and strong-willed females usually suffered for their lack of pliability. While Mahelt develops into a very appealing heroine, she pays the price for her rebelliousness more than once.

The theme of rebellion comes to the fore in the years leading up to Magna Carta, as the king's relationship with his barons steadily deteriorates. While this novel is written from the point of view of the barons driven to breaking point by King John's abuse of his power, Elizabeth Chadwick brings balance to the narrative by allowing us to glimpse John's point of view. My favourite character was Longespee, who is caught between his identification with his royal heritage, his loyalty to John and the connection he feels to his Bigod relatives.
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80 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Misfit TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 1 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
Although that's pretty much standard for me with this author's books. 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 he leaves 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...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tamela Mccann on 12 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Once again, Elizabeth Chadwick has pulled me into the thirteenth century, engulfing me with the sights, sounds, and events of the tumultuous period when John was King and the Marshals and Bigods had to walk a thin line in order to keep their families safe and protect their very lives. To Defy a King is a masterpiece, rich in characters and all the details that bring the past vividly to life.

The story centers around headstrong Mahelt Marshal, favorite daughter of William Marshal (featured in The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion). Mahelt's marriage to Hugh Bigod, son of Roger Bigod (For the King's Favor/The Time of Singing) does little to bring the teen to heel and soon she has her new husband captivated, even as she continually rubs her father by marriage the wrong way. Mahelt is no shrinking violet, sitting back watching events unfold; she is impetuous, outspoken, and determined, though mindful of her duties as a wife of a powerful family. Her emotions are always close to the surface and she can barely contain her revulsion and anger with King John, even as she realizes that rebelling could cause her family to lose all.

The themes of family and honour are repeated throughout To Defy a King; it is easy to see that Chadwick wants us to understand that these were the driving forces behind the lives of those under the thumb of John's erratic, often cruel, behavior. Mahelt herself is written with such fervor that her spirit literally leaps off the pages; I could feel her anguish over the predictaments her blood family faced while being torn over her love for her husband. There is so much action, both large and small, throughout this novel that is almost impossible to read it quickly, and really, who would want to?
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