Friday, February 13, 2009

The Wild Hunt by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Wild Hunt
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Ravenstow #1
Re-Published: December 2008
Pages: 341
My Rating: 4.5 stars

The Wild Hunt is Elizabeth Chadwick's first published work, winner of the 1990 Betty Trask Award and the version I've just read is the 'reworked' version. The Wild Hunt is the 1st novel in the Ravenstow trilogy, it was out of print for many years then re-published by Sphere Publishing with a 'spring clean' & new cover as will be "The Running Vixen" (re-publish date Dec 2009) and "The Leopard Unleashed" (re-publish date unknown.)

A marriage of political expediency, at the order of King William Rufus unites Lady Judith of Ravenstow and Guyon FitzMiles, lord of Ledworth. Judith has been traumatised by an abusive father and is naturally fearful of her new husband. While skilled in healing & the running of a household, 16 year old Judith is an innocent when it comes to matters of husband & wife, fortunately Guyon has no wish to terrify his child bride and waits patiently to consummate their marriage.

Set in the turn of the 12th Century in the untamed Welsh border area, Guyon and Judith's story is woven beautifully into the historic tapestry of the time - the scheming and treachery endemic in the royal court during the reign of King William Rufus and subsequently King Henry I, political intrigue, Welsh raids, border skirmishes, secrets, and the evil & cruelty of true historical characters, Robert de Belleme (Earl of Shrewsbury) and Walter de Lacey.

Chadwick's descriptions of the cruelty and desecration perpetrated actually brought tears to my eyes. I loved Ms Chadwick's development of the fictional characters Guyon and Judith. While Guyon has all the traits required of a much loved hero, he is saved from the "to good to be true" portrayal by a few realistic flaws. Judith is a beguiling blend of innocence and passion, poise and wildness, her strong will & temper are a force to be reckoned with. Judith and Guyons' love slowly blossoms as trust, maturity and attraction grows.

While for me The Wild Hunt didn't have quite the same heartfelt appeal of The Love Knot or The Greatest Knight I did thoroughly enjoy it. Having not read the first published version of The Wild Hunt my opinion is based solely on this version and obviously with the benefit of years of writing experience and increased historical knowledge Elizabeth Chadwick has fine-tuned The Wild Hunt to give the reader a compelling, well researched historical tale & endearing love story.

Please check out my other reviews of Elizabeth Chadwick novels in Favourite Reads of 2008


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