Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lords of The White Castle - Elizabeth Chadwick

This book is about the true story of Fulke Fitzwarin, a knight in the time of king John who becomes an outlaw to fight for his right to his family's castle. At the end of the book she mentions her sources and their accounts of Fulke's like.

Lords of The White Castle is a novel based on a remarkable true story of honour, treachery and love spanning the turbulent reigns of four great Medieval kings. Award winning author Elizabeth Chadwick brings the thirteenth century vividly to life in the tale of Fulke FitzWarin. From inexperienced young courtier to powerful Marcher lord, from loyal knight to dangerous outlaw, from lover of many women to faithful husband, Fulke’s life story bursts across the page in authentic detail.
A violent quarrel with Prince John, later King John, disrupts Fulke’s life ambition to become ‘Lord of the White Castle’ and leads him to rebel. There are perilous chases through autumn woods, ambushes and battles of wit as Fulke thwarts John at every turn. No less dramatic is the dangerous love that Fulke harbours for Maude Walter, a wealthy widow whom John wants for himself.
Negotiating a maze of deceit, treachery and shifting political alliances Fulke’s striving is rewarded, but success is precarious. Personal tragedy follows the turbulence of the Magna Carta rebellion, culminating in the destruction of everything for which Fulke has fought. Yet even among the ashes, he finds a reason to begin anew.

As usual Elizabeth brings to life medieval England, set in the 12th and 13th centuries, we get to know not only the main characters but how and where they lived and all the important personalities of the time. It's also an excellent portrayal of a turbulent time in which the most important men of the land will finally come together to make the king sign the Magna Carta which seals some of the fundamental rights of the people.

Fulke and the then still Prince John have a strong disagreement over a chess game, Fulke's pride and John's grudge will make them enemies for life. Fulke's father has been fighting for the right to have Whittington returned to the family. After his father's death John confirms the ownership of the castle to another man leading Fulke to become an outlaw and give his allegiance to Llewellyn of Wales to keep fighting for what he believes is his right.

He manages to wed the woman he loves after she becomes a widow and their union will be tempestuous and passionate. Through Maude's eyes we have another version of the events and how they affected women and children and we also see the details of everyday life. As the political game often makes men change sides and allegiances we see how Fulke's life and decisions are fully interwhined in the period he lives in.

This book is not a traditional romance and yet it has strong romantic elements that add to the general sense of history and help bring characters and situations to life.

Grade: A


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