Monday, April 1, 2013
Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick
Growing up is only half the battle as once Brunin reaches the age to start thinking about his inheritance as the heir of Whittington and Alberbury castles, he finds them broiled in a dispute. His youth was spent during the endless wars of King Stephen and Empress Matilda fighting for the English thrown. As he reaches maturity, Matilda’s son Henry has taken the thrown as Henry II. As both Brunin’s father and Lord Joscelin supported Henry, this is considered a positive. Unfortunately other forces believe that they should be the lords of Whittington and Ludlow and are willing to take it by force. Love and treachery are definitely the major themes of this novel.
I loved Brunin the sensitive, but skilled fighter. The striking picture on the front of this novel helped as well. I also loved Hawise. She was not a typical maiden of the time, but was strong willed and willing to go head to head with Brunin. Joscelin was a kind, compassionate, and powerful lord and I also loved his fierce lady, Sybilla. The villains were also fierce, some were written so compassionately, I felt sorry for them. I can’t say more and ruin the plot!
Chadwick has a gift and is a superb historical fiction writer. Her characters and scenes come alive and I think of them long after I have finished one of her books. She uses vast historical research as well as reenactments to write her novels. I believe that is why one feels that you are there in the time and place. Chadwick’s novels are more than a good read, they are an experience.
Shadows and Strongholds is the prequel to her novel, Lords of the White Castle which is the “story of medieval outlaw Fulke Fitzwarin and his endeavors to have his family lands restored.” I really want to read this and looked it up on amazon. Unfortunately it is not currently in print in the U.S. I hope that Sourcebooks publishes it soon – I really want to know the rest of the story of Brunin and Hawise.
Overall, Shadows and Strongholds is another superb novel by Elizabeth Chadwick. I’ve read a lot of good books lately, but this book reigns supreme over them all. I’ve been watching Game of Thrones a lot lately. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, I would highly recommend Shadows and Strongholds or any Elizabeth Chadwick novel. History is just as riveting as fiction, although there are less white walkers and dragons.
Source: A review copy from Sourcebooks – Thanks!