"To Defy a King" Review

"To Defy a King"
by Elizabeth Chadwick

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: Mar 1, 2011

Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

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 to her new life is hard, but Mahelt comes to love Hugh deeply; however, defying her father-in-law brings disgrace and heartbreak. When King John sets out to subdue the Bigods, Mahelt faces a heartbreaking battle, fearing neither she, nor her marriage, is likely to survive the outcome . . .

My Review:

Once again, Elizabeth Chadwick perfectly blends together a well-researched historical saga with a tender, caring romance. Her characters are well-drafted and I love the glimpses at daily medieval life alongside the sweeping major battles.

For having an arranged marriage, I'd say Mahelt got extremely lucky! You couldn't ask for a better husband than Hugh. Strong, jaw-droppingly handsome, a great father, and always fighting for what's right-those are just a few of his qualities. Hugh never tried to reign Mahelt in or dampen her wild spirit and I loved that about him. Did I mention how handsome he was?

There was one thing about the book that upset me though. I absolutely loved the previous book, "For the King's Favor" and I completely fell in love with Roger Bigod along with Ida. Roger and Ida are Hugh's parents and I was looking forward to seeing them again. I fully understand Roger's conflict with Mahelt, and even enjoyed it, because they were such opposites. Mahelt was so wild and Roger so by-the-book, it was fun to watch them butt heads as they became family. However, I didn't like the portrayal of Roger's relationship with his wife at all. It's disheartening as a reader to get so attached to characters and see them have their happily ever after, only to see it shattered in the next book. It makes me wary that next time Hugh will be made out to be the bad guy and stop caring about Mahelt, even though he was so wonderful in this book.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5 

Setting: 4/5
Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 3/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line:
I really enjoyed this historical saga, even though some of my old favorites from the series weren't portrayed as I'd hoped.



  1. Wonderful review! I have this book on my wishlist. To Defy A King sounds amazing! Can't wait to read it!

  2. Thank you for the Review! Been looking for a filler of Phillip Gregory!

    Pop past the blog to say hi!

  3. The characters in this book sound awesome, which is enough to convince me! Fab review, Carrie! :)

  4. So he is handsome? ;)

    I love the name Hugh.

    It does seem strange that characters who were well establish in a previous book had complete personality changes in this book. I'm sorry the bubble was broken. I think I would have been bothered too.

  5. I felt the same. What was up with the change? Suddenly they were strangers to each other and I got sad

  6. Thanks, everyone!!

    Missie, yes he is!! And thanks for understanding about the changes in the characters.

    Blodeuedd, I was sad too. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt that way about it.

  7. I too was sad at the way Ida and Roger ended up - I wasn't sure if I had made it out to be more than in was in my head or not - but apparently several of you felt the same way too. Great review!

  8. Sounds good but it's sad that past characters aren't still together. That would bum me out too.

  9. dolleygurl, I was thinking the same thing, maybe I just got too attached or something. But really, it hurt my feelings! I can't help it!

    Karen, thanks for understanding, it was a definite bummer how their relationship turned out.

  10. I saw this at the bookstore today and thought of you! I almost purchased it. But is it the third book? I like what you liked and didn't like about the book. I actually love the cover. I like the names. I've never read anything set during that time. Sounds like fun! ....and in answer to your question, yes, I like Marie Tussaud!

  11. what a great review! sounds like a fantastic book!

  12. I love historical medieval books..and did you say something about a handsome man?? Adding this to my list!


Thanks so much for your lovely comments!