Elizabeth Chadwick has given us a holiday gift---the sequel to her outstanding novel, The Greatest Knight. The Scarlet Lion picks up the life of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and eventual Regent of England in the early 1200s. To say that this man was more than a mere knight would be an understatement of the first order, and would be a disservice to the writing skills Ms. Chadwick displays so well.
Where should I begin in describing this magnificent novel? Maybe I will start with William's accomplishments, all of which were almost unheard of for someone who had to make his own way in life. Or perhaps I should begin with the cast of characters who populate this tale, among them Richard the Lion Heart, King John of Magna Carta fame, and the young Henry III who was placed in the care of Marshal upon the death of his father. But starting with those would take away the heart of the novel: the uncommon relationship between William and his wife, Isabelle. William, in a time when women were basically chattel, cherished his wife and listened to her counsel. Ms. Chadwick has taken all of these historical facts and woven them into one grand tapestry that brings Marshal to life and inserts him into your heart, mind, and soul. Her research is impeccable, and her gift of phrase will make you want to slow down while reading so as to savor every word.
To those who are lovers of good fiction, this is one of the best and truly deserving of a widespread audience. To those who are lovers of historical fiction, I can say with complete assurance that this will be a book you will treasure forever. Ms. Chadwick's skill in recreating the past pulls you into the story immediately, and won't let you go once you close the book. Highly, highly recommended.