Sunday, April 25, 2010

Is. It. May. Yet?

If you could see my face right now, you would see it is a distinct shade of green. You see, whilst that troublesome Icelandic volcano doesn't seem to have slowed down distribution of the ARCs for Elizabeth Chadwick's May release to the US, mine still isn't here yet!!

Do I sound childish and peevish? Yes! Will I later regret doing so? Not really!

You see, fellow Chadwick fans, Misfit and Daphne, along with other people, have been waiting with great anticipation for the UK release date. To be fair, I should say that even if I wasn't getting an ARC of this book, I would have been purchasing it from at the earliest possible opportunity!

A little while ago, Misfit and Daphne and I thought it might be a bit of fun to have a bit of a countdown to the release date. For the first post, we are all posting about 3 of Chadwick's books that we have particularly enjoyed. The hardest part was working out which ones to choose because when I look at my list of books that I have read from this author, there is only one book out of all of them that I haven't rated as either 4 or 4.5 out of 5.

What is it exactly that makes Chadwick so readable? For me, it is her ability to impart a sense of time of place without losing the story along the way. Her books are captivating and entertaining, and historically accurate, and she has an amazing ability to be able to remind us that whilst people may have lived 700 years ago, and their environment was very different to the way we live now, fundamentally not much has changed when it comes to people's emotions, particularly their emotional needs.

For example, I was reading The Conquest just before Christmas last year. On the first couple of pages, there was this passage:

A sudden commotion at the door heralded the return of her two serving women from the markets at the heart of the city. Braying in protest at the weight in his laden panniers, the pack ass was led round the side of the house by the younger maid, Sigrid. Wulfhild, puffing and plump, staggered into the long hall, her arms weighted down by two net bags of provisions.

'God save us, Mistress Ailith, I've never seen such crowds!' She dumped the bags on the new thick floor rushes and pressed her hands into the small of her back. 'An' all the stall holders charging what they like. We got the best bargains we could, but if it weren't Yuletide, you'd say the prices was shameless robbery!'

Whilst my pack ass is a car, my floor is tiled and we use plastic bags or environmental bags, I totally related to the situation that these characters were in. This is just a small glimpse of a small moment in a day and yet I related completely!

Anyway, what I am supposed to be highlighting is three books that I enjoyed!

The first book I wanted to highlight was A Place Beyond Courage. The first two books I read by EC were The Greatest Lion and The Scarlet Lion, both about William Marshal. These two books have recently been released in the US by Sourcebooks and so there have been a lot of hard core historical fiction fans being introduced and then falling under the spell of William Marshal. To all of those people, I really encourage you to go out of your way to get hold of this book, because here we get the story of William's father, John Marshal, and whilst I loved reading about William, I was really blown away reading about John. You see, from reading William's story, there was no way known that I thought that the author could redeem a man who seemingly uncaringly sent his son to the king as hostage basically saying that he was willing to sacrifice the young boy because "I still have the hammer and the anvil with which to forge still more and better sons!" And yet, Elizabeth Chadwick manages to not only redeem this man, but also to make him into someone who you come to admire for his strength, his valour and his sheer tenaciousness. If you haven't read The Greatest Lion or The Scarlet Lion, you really should, but make sure you also have this book on hand ready to learn more about his father as well. Daphne has posted about the William Marshal books in her post, so it is not just me who thinks you should get to know the Marshals!

The second book I am going to highlight is The Champion and it also has a Marshal connection, and was also the novel I read most recently. As I work my way through Chadwick's backlist, I can really see how there was a pretty significant change in the style of novel that she writes. Her earlier novels were really meaty romances that had a strong emphasis on the historical settings and details, whereas the later ones are really meaty historical fiction with romantic tendencies. And yet, even as historical romances these books are different from a lot of the other romances out there, and as such they are good reads even if you don't like romances. In this novel, we are taken on a journey that starts on the tough tourney fields of France, where the men are soldiers for hire, and a lot of the women do what they have to do to earn a living, to the royal Courts of England. Our hero and heroine need to find ways to survive in a very harsh life, including times when they may have to sacrifice their honour in order to find a way to live.  I mentioned that there is a Marshal connection. This was the first time that we met William Marshal in any of EC's works. Having read the books about him previously, as soon as his name was mentioned, it jumped off of the page.

Now this is where it became difficult to choose. Which book for the third book? In the end, I settled on The Wild Hunt, simply because this was the first book that Chadwick had published. Even in the early days, you could see the potential that she had for telling fantastic stories, with fantastic historical details, and you can definitely see the growth, but this was still a very good tale.  This was actually the first book in the Ravenstow trilogy, and I can say quite honestly that I enjoyed them all. You can read my review (yes, back in the days when I managed to write reviews quite regularly!) here and see my thoughts at the time. I do want to mention that the version that I read was the original version, but over the last couple of years, EC has been going back and re-editing many of those earlier book, making the stories much leaner and stronger. Eventually I am intending to actually go back and read these edited novels, so I can see how they compared to the reads that I enjoyed so much, oh and so I have a set of matching covers!

So there you have it....three Elizabeth Chadwick novels that I have read and very much enjoyed! Don't forget to visit Daphne and Misfit and see which three novels they recommended and you can expect to see another post soon asking the same question as I asked in this post.

Is. It. May. Yet?


  1. Very envious about your receiving an ARC of it! I ordered my copy from Bookdepository and hopefully it'll arrive soon--but not soon enough! Choosing three favorite books of hers is hard--of the ones I've read, I'd have to say that The Greatest Knight is up there (it was my gateway drug, LOL), as is The Winter Mantle... and The Time of Singing... and The Scarlet Lion... and A Place Beyond Courage... see, it's hard to pick just a few of them!

  2. You can be envious once I actually receive it though! There's a chance you may get your actual copy before I get mine!

    I did have a little help in narrowing down which ones to choose because I knew which ones Daphne and Misfit were choosing and I wanted to focus on different ones! Otherwise it would definitely have been much more difficult!

  3. "What is it exactly that makes Chadwick so readable? For me, it is her ability to impart a sense of time of place without losing the story along the way."

    Exactly, Marg - couldn't put it better myself.

    I'm reviewing To Defy a King as part of the Around the World tour hosted by Alaine (Queen of Happy Endings), so a few weeks to wait yet!

  4. I am so glad that you saw that tweet and signed up! It is such a fun idea.

    We tried to do it once on the site that preceded HFO. I bought the book, read it and sent it to the next person on the list, and that was as far as it went, so it wasn't exactly a success! LOL!

  5. Katherine's right, it's hard to pick just one. I loved The Champion, John was just so nasty in that one - although just you wait until TDAK.

    PS, you pout all you want. I'd be doing it :p

  6. I haven't read The Wild Hunt yet but I liked the other two you mentioned. It is hard only picking three of her books though. I'm sorry your book hasn't arrived yet - hope it makes it soon!! I'm sure you will love it!

  7. My heavens, what beautiful cover art! I'll have to see if I can pick up Chadwick at my local library... odds are not good, but a girl can dream!

  8. I've recently discovered Chadwick and adore her writing. She makes everything come to life. The Wild Hunt was my first Chadwick read and I plan to read a lot more.

  9. I am so glad that you are discovering Chadwick Amy. I am slowly working my way through her backlist and savouring every moment.

    Kate, the cover art is beautiful!

    Daphne, I am sure when it does arrive I will absolutely love it! It's just a question of when it will get here!

    Misfit, I am glad that my peevish and childish behaviour won't have put you off!

  10. I've only read Shadows And Strongholds but I liked it a lot. Chadwick's descriptions of the time were so absorbing and I definitely want to read more. I can understand why you're impatient about this!

  11. Sorry to hear that your book is being so awfully delayed! I loved your mini reviews of these books and will have to try them. I recently bought my first Chadwick, and I am looking forward to getting to it. Judging by everyone's opinions on her work, I am certain to love her too!

  12. Hi Marg,

    This post is a great example of a why I like your book reviews. Even though we have very different tastes in reading, I love the visual impact and style of your reviews.

    I'm not feeling overloaded. I know the what/who/where about the book and I know how you felt about what you've read. You also pack gorgeous little gems into the posts as well - like character development.

    Anyway, enough from me now. I better go have a shower and settle down for some more reading!



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