Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: The Outlaw Knight

The Outlaw Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

Publication Date: 09/03/2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Imprint: Landmark
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 576
ISBN-10: 1402274629
ISBN-13: 978-1402274626

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks Landmark)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Elizabeth Chadwick on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from The Outlaw Knight, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside Feature

Cover Art: I have seen a couple of different covers for
this title and wanted to share both.


A Deadly Rival.
An Ancient Family Dispute.
An Impossible Love.
He should have known better than to fight with the future King John. Ruthless and feared, John is not one to forget or forgive. But Fulke FitzWarin couldn't help himself, and now the vindictive John has insured that Fulke will never become lord of the castle he loves.
Instead of accepting his fate, Fulke rebels. He begins an affair with Maude Walter, the wealthy widow desired by John himself. Negotiating a maze of deceit, treachery, and shifting alliances, Fulke's route to success is blocked at every turn. And when the turmoil of the Magna Carta rebellion combines with a shocking tragedy, everything Fulke has fought for is thrown into the path of destruction.


Previously released as Lords of the White Castle, The Outlaw Knight is a medieval romantic adventure by highly acclaimed British author, Elizabeth Chadwick. 12th Century England provides the background for this sweeping story of betrayal, love and what it means to honor king and country. Chadwick is adept at using little known historical characters and bringing them to vivid life for her readers. Her skill as a historian, as well as, a writer is nothing short of amazing. This is an excellent tale depicting the reign of King John and his many follies, and a story about a man whose only dream is to reclaim his family home.

Historical fiction is somewhat different from historical romance in the fact that there may be a relationship or a love interest but the story is based on a real historical character. The author can take a well known person and write what might be considered a biographical sketch or they can take little known historical figure and expound and embellish that story with fiction. In the case of The Outlaw Knight, Elizabeth Chadwick has taken a man that has very little historical background and brings his story to life for her readers. 

Fulke FitzWarin becomes squire to Lord John when he is only fifteen years old. He is desperate to somehow regain his family holdings. His only hope is getting John to return it to him. But John is anything but cordial to Fulke. He treats him as though he is somehow less than desirable. A country boy who does not have a place in court. John is spoiled and resentful. He grows into a man who is all about his own pleasure and cares nothing for the plight of others. Chadwick does a wonderful job describing John and his habits. She makes it very clear to the reader that historically and fictionally, John was a real piece of work. 

Fulke however, is very different. He takes a lot from John because he wants to bring back honor to his family. But an argument between the two brings everything crashing down around him and John turns his holdings over to someone else. Fulke becomes enraged and throws off any sign of allegiance he has ever shown John and so the story begins. Fulke is now and outlaw. Chadwick does an amazing job of showing Fulke as a man who is put in a desperate position. She writes him as a loyal man, yet he is forced to denounce his King when he is betrayed by him. I thought Chadwick was excellent at showing the depth of Fulke's personality and what it took for him to do this.

I enjoyed all of the give and take between John and Fulke. Fulke is determined to make sure he thwarts every possible avenue that John has to success as the King. Fulke even chooses a woman that John has selected for himself. The relationship between Maude Walters and Fulke was very tender at times and passionate at others. I liked how Chadwick uses the romance between them as a catalyst in the story, but does not make it a focal point. Had she done that it would have strayed too close to historical romance for me, but I still enjoyed reading about how they came together and what they meant to each other.

The Magna Carta rebellion is essentially a huge part of the story. Should it be enacted it would change the future of other sons like Fulke who have been cheated of their family holdings and also for women during the time period and how they were bartered between families basically to the highest bidder. I loved the fact that Chadwick describes the plight of women during the time period and makes it clear to the reader that they had very little rights up until this time and how the Magna Carta changed that. Her descriptions of what women had to go throw at home and in marriage was riveting. 

Chadwick has written a novel in which the story shines, but the historical background is exceptional. Her descriptive prowess is amazing. Even down to the descriptions of what the food was like and the living conditions. I think I enjoyed that most about this book. I loved the characters and their interactions but just learning more about 12th century England really took center stage here. Chadwick is one of those authors that you know must spend her days buried in research and becoming a part of the medieval time. I love reading her books for a lot of reasons but I think mostly I like to be educated and entertained and she does that in spades.

The Outlaw Knight is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Chadwick is a best selling, award winning author of historical fiction. A born storyteller, her first novel The Wild Hunt won a Betty Trask Award in 1990. She has been four times shortlisted for the RNA Award in the UK for the best mainstream romantic novel. Her book The Scarlet Lion was selected as one of the top ten works of historical fiction of the decade by Richard Lee, founder of The Historical Novel Society.

Giveaway Details:

Check out Manga Manic Cafe for a great character interview with Fulke FitzWarin and your chance to win a copy of The Outlaw Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick. You still have about ten days on this one.