About the Book:
The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper. John FitzGilbert is a man of honor and loyalty, sworn to royal service. When the old king dies, his successor rewards the handsome and ambitious John with castles and lands. But King Stephen has a tenuous hold on both his reign and his barons, and when jealous rivals at court seek to destroy John, he backs a woman’s claim to the crown, sacrifices his marriage, and eventually is forced to make a gamble that is perhaps one step too far.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Chadwick (UK) is the author of 17 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, the Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards.
I have been a fan of Ms. Chadwick’s books for a long while now and jumped at the chance to read this newest release. In A Place Beyond Courage the reader meets John FitzGilbert, the father of The Greatest Knight, William Marshal. As Marshal to Henry I, John is in charge of many things including the palace whores. He is a man of fierce temperament and determined to better himself. He marries a young woman named Aline whose guardianship he owns but she is meek and unsuited to his life as a warrior. She does give him two sons but as the political climate changes with the death of the King and the ensuing civil war as both Stephan and Matilda fight for the throne John sets her aside to make a more advantageous marriage to Sybilla of Salisbury who is a much better match.
As the war escalates John changes allegiance from Stephen to Matilda and struggles to hold on to the gains he has made – and to his family.
There is no-one like Elizabeth Chadwick for drawing you into a world and making it seem so very real. I come out of her books as if from a dream. Her writing style gives details so smoothly you don’t realize that you are being immersed into her characters lives. This one started a little slowly but once Henry I died it picked up and I found myself clicking my nook as fast as I could to get it read. I don’t think I would have liked this man and I suspect that in reality he was far more hard than she has portrayed him. But we readers want a romantic leading man and that is what we have here.
The time period is a fascinating one and it is portrayed in very human and basic terms in the novel. This is truly Ms. Chadwick’s forte; taking big swaths of medieval history and reducing it to the personal level. She lets her reader get a feel for what the life would have been like – whether through descriptions of food, clothing or even the smell of a washerwoman – it all brings the period to vivid life for the person lucky enough to be reading the book.
You can preorder A Place Beyond Courage from Sourcebooks
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Disclosure: I received an e-copy of A Place Beyond Courage from Netgalley. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the soon to disappear e-book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.
A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick – Book Review
About the Book: