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I love books about history, so I'm always eager to see how good the next writer is!
Nine year old Fulke FitzWarin is an awkward boy, who is hated by his powerful grandmother. He is sent away to the household of Joscelin De Dinan, the Lord of Ludlow, to get him out of the way. Fulke comes across as a shy, unconfrontational boy, who likes to stay out of trouble. He did not have a fabulous childhood, and you begin feeling very sorry for him and wishing he could just be left alone.
Joscelin and his family, including second daughter Hawise and orphan Marian, are the perfect tonic for him though. Slowly but surely they ease him out of his shell, and even manage to teach him some knightly arts. He appears to be settling in, and happy for the first time...Until the Welsh attack Ludlow Castle, and he is forced to fight not only for himself, but for the family that have saved him.
Over the course of the book, Fulke and the very headstrong Hawise grow closer, and eventually get married. Marian, however, has always been besotted with Fulke, and is consumed in rage and jealousy. She soon forgets that she was adopted by the family and treated as one of their own, and decides that she must get revenge. But her treason attempts don't end well, not even for her...
Chadwick writes this book brilliantly. She is excellent at making you feel for the characters, which makes them so real, and her dry wit and humour make it immensely readable. This is a real page turner, and I can't wait to read another.
This is the first book I have read by Elizabeth Chadwick so I was a little unsure of what to expect. I passed the book to my mum first who read it and she told me she thought it was great. Now, my mum is a good judge on books, so I was looking forward to reading the book!
The book is set in medieval England (the first chapters start in 1148) and you are introduced to the main character of the book, Brunin FitzWarin. Brunin is 10 years old when you first meet him and at Shrewsbury Fair to purchase a horse with his father. Immediately you are told that Brunin is the eldest child, but is withdrawn and his father believes needs tutoring outside of his household.
While at the Fair Brunin accidentally stumbles across Gilbert de Lacy and his two squires. De Lacy enquires who he is and finds out that Brunin is the son of one of his enemies. He then lets the squires bully Brunin and physically assault him. Brunin is found by a monk who takes him to safety away from the squires and until his father collects him to take him home.
It is at this point that Brunin is sent into the household of Joscelin de Dinan, Lord of Ludlow, who is also Brunin's father's closest friend. From here on you watch Brunin develop into a young man, fall in love, face battles (personally and politically), face the wrath of politics and the King and watch his family grow and disappear in front of him.
I don't want to give too much of the plot away, so you will have to read the book to find out what happens with all the above!!!!
I have to say that I wasn't that sure if I was going to really enjoy this book, but, guess what, I could not put it down!! It is a fantastic book with a brilliant story line and fantastic twists along the way.
Even though it is set in medieval England, the book is really easy to read. Elizabeth Chadwick has used the language of today and perfectly incorporated it into a medieval setting.
This is a well written book and easily gets the reader hooked without making any effort at all.
Another interesting factor is that when you have finished reading the story there is a little note from Elizabeth Chadwick at the back of the book detailing the actual historical facts from the book. I am not sure if Chadwick does this with every book, as I say, as this is the first one I have read from her, but I did find this interesting and I found myself on the internet looking up Ludlow Castle, the FitzWarins and their history. Fascinating!!
I bought 'Shadows & Strongholds' from Book Publishers Outlet as a special offer, buy three books for £5.
Overall I thought that this was a brilliant read and will be looking for more of her work.