A story of huge emotional power set against the road to Magna Carta and the fight to bring a tyrant king to heel. The privileged daughter of one of the most powerful men in England, Mahelt Marshal’s life changes dramatically when her father is suspected by King John. Her brothers become hostages and Mahelt is married to Hugh Bigod, heir to the earldom of Norfolk. Adapting
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3.5 stars. I didn’t like this as much as the others in the series, partly because there were so many characters that I didn’t like – it’s during King John’s reign, so I guess you have to expect some of that. Chadwick got me feeling angry about lots of characters – King John, of course, and his nephew, Ida’s son, but also Roger Bigod, who really disappointed me. I thought he was made of better stuff after quite liking him in For the King’s Favor. Now that I look back, I realize there were hints i
I also felt Mahelt’s frustration at her powerlessness in the face of men, her isolation from her family, and her struggles to meet the very different expectations of her marriage family. I liked that she didn’t give up in spite of everything, and didn’t lose her spirit. Not for lack of being squashed! It was realistic for her time, but I don’t have to like it.
The other reason I didn’t like this as much is that Mahelt’s viewpoint was really limited. She wasn’t able to take as active a role in the Bigod family as her mother did in the Marshal household. Much of the real action took place either by messenger, or in her husband Hugh’s point of view, which was still peripheral. I’m glad I had read The Scarlet Lion because the central events were more directly explored there from William Marshal’s point of view.