Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick

Genre: Historical Fiction
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 592
Book Source: Own Purchase

Following early beginnings as a knight in the English royal household and a champion of the tourneys, William Marshal's prowess and loyalty have been rewarded by the hand in marriage of Isabelle de Clare, heiress to great estates in England, Normandy and Ireland. Now a powerful magnate, William has weathered the difficult years of King Richard's absence on crusade and is currently serving him on campaign in Normandy while Isabelle governs their estates. All the stability William and Isabelle have enjoyed with their young and growing family comes crashing down as Richard dies and his brother John becomes King. Rebellion is stirring throughout the Angevin domains and although John has created William Earl of Pembroke, the friction between the two men leads William and Isabelle to distance themselves in Ireland. The situation escalates, with John holding their sons as hostages and seizing their English lands. The conflict between remaining loyal and rebelling over injustices committed, threatens to tear apart William and Isabelle's marriage and their family.

I am trying out a new review format today called "3 Reasons Review". Jen from Jenny loves to read and Staci from Life in the Thumb have come up with a simple review format, the basics a reader would want to know about a book. Some books don't require an in-depth analysis, yet as reviewers we still strive to get the important bits across to our readers.

1.) Reasons you chose this book

I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Chadwick's work and The Greatest Knight was one of my favourite reads in 2008. The Scarlet Lion follows on from it and I'm happy to say it lived up to my expectations. William Marshall otherwise known as the flower of chivalry, really was The Greatest Knight. His honour, courage, and integrity are well documented and not commonplace in a time of great scheming, dishonour and fickle allegiance. I couldn't wait to learn more about this fascinating man.

Since I've purchased all of Elizabeth Chadwick's novels and congratulated myself on how pretty they look on my bookshelf I thought I should read a few more rather than just admire the covers!

2.) Reasons you liked or disliked this book

The Scarlet Lion picks up more or less were The Greatest Knight finishes and follows William Marshall's life from 1197 to his death in 1219. Much of the novel is devoted to William and Isabelle's life, the birth of their 10 children, their mutual love and respect for each other, their struggles, joys and sorrows. I loved the romance and focus on family and while battle scenes are less detailed than in The Greatest Knight, political intrigue and scheming are still paramount.

For a man who served 4 kings, was elected by his peers as Regent of England, William navigated through dangerous times with intelligence, courage, patience and integrity, he kept his head under the treacherous reign of King John and reached the grand age of 75 ... impressive! On his deathbed he fulfilled the vow he had made while on crusade and was invested into the order of the Knights Templar. His effigy can still be seen at Temple Church in London, where he's interred.

I really enjoyed learning more about Isabelle de Clare, she's loving, intelligent, compassionate, a woman of admirable character and very much William's equal and partner in life. A refreshing change to read of in a time when women are not often heard let alone valued.

Elizabeth Chadwick manages to stay true to historical detail while weaving a captivating tale. Sated with knowledge but inspired to learn more is what I truly love about historical fiction like this.

3.) Reasons you are recommending this book

A seamless blend of fact and fiction. Elizabeth Chadwick's superb writing style, depth of character portrayal, clear descriptive prose, and attention to detail make this a delight to read. I would recommend it to Elizabeth Chadwick fans and lovers of historical fiction.

I do recommend you read The Greatest Knight first, it does make this a clearer and easier read. If you need more convincing click on the title to see my review.

Oops I think I got carried away; this isn't a short review. Let me know what you think :)

I can't wait to read To Defy A King; the story of William and Isabelle's daughter, Mahelt Marshall.

This month on The Eclectic Reader you can win a copy of Matched by Allie Condie, or Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead or The Leopard Unleashed by Elizabeth Chadwick. Check this blog post for details. Open Internationally.


  1. This is one of my favorites as well and what's not to love about William Marshall?!!

  2. Lol, I tried the format too, it was fun :=)
    Aww Chadwick, reading one book by her too.

  3. I love a historical fiction every now and again and I'm putting the first book in this series on my wish list right now :)

    I liked this review format, but I also like the way you write your reviews normally.

  4. Thank you for a very comprehensive review.

  5. So glad you enjoyed this one, and took the time to read it instead of just admiring it!

    I would make sure that I read The Time of Singing/For the King's Favor before you read To Defy a King, which was an excellent read!

  6. I can't wait to get to To Defy a King. I loved Greatest Knight, Scarlet Lion and For the King's Favor. Great review!

  7. I love it when a book motivates us into research and looking up pictures to learn more! And I've been getting very much into historical fiction lately, so it appears I'm going to have to put this series on my list! Many thanks for putting this on my radar!!

  8. I loved this book! Can't help but love Marshall :) Can't wait to read To Defy a King.

    The books really has pretty covers!

  9. I love pretty covers!! This review rocked and I didn't think it was long at all because I felt I really understood why you enjoyed it so much but without telling me the whole story!! Excellent job!!!

  10. I'm not really big into historical fiction but I love the review format. It was easy to read.

  11. I have The Greatest Knight sitting on my bookshelf...I must read it. I read To Defy A King and loved that book. Once I am done with The Greatest Knight I will move move onto this one. Chadwick does a fabulous job with historical fiction.

    I really liked this review style. I think this is a great way to do some book reviews. I can think of a few books that I want to review but have been stalling for lack of organizing my thoughts. I am going to try my hand with the Three Reasons Review. I hope you do more of them. Although, that does not mean I don't like your other reviews because I do. :D

  12. If you did like my opinion, it is a Long review. And I think you would write pretty much the same thing in the last 2 points anyway. I like your earlier way. You have a way with words, and are a fantastic reviewer :)

  13. Great job on the "short" review. This book was quite big and I think your thoughts were spot on. I wasn't crazy about this one myself, but I think it's because I didn't read Greatest Night. I haven't given up on Chadwick though.

    Loved the pretty bookshelf line :)


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