Monday, August 27, 2012

A Place Beyond Courage-Elizabeth Chadwick

A Place Beyond Courage

Elizabeth Chadwick

Sourcebooks, Sep 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9781402271083

Though only in his twenties, John FitzGilbert is the Marshal to King Henry I. He is loyal to His Highness and brave as he controls access to the monarch as well as living arrangements at court. Deciding it is time to marry; John weds fearful Aline and has two sons with his frightened spouse.

When King Henry dies, John must decide whether to support the successor claim of the royal daughter Mathilda or nephew Stephen. H swears fealty to King Stephen, but quickly realizes the nephew is a loser so he switches to Empress Matilda and her son Prince Henry. Taking advantage of the division, he obtains an annulment of his marriage to Aline and quickly weds Sybilla, sister of an enemy the Earl of Salisbury. Sybilla and John are happy together as they raise two sons while he holds on to what he gained until Stephen abducts his child William (see The Greatest Knight for his tale).

This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as John the Marshal proves able, brave and opportunistic in a world filled with intrigue, but is truly tested when his favorite offspring is snatched. The cast starting with Henry I, those at court, John’s two families and the civil war combatants enhance a deep look at a fascinating twelfth century powerful “chief of staff”.

Harriet Klausner

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