After reading rave reviews about Elizabeth Chadwick's books, I now understand why she is so well loved by fans of medieval historical fiction. She effortlessly weaves intricate political intrigue and chivalry into her stories filled with historical figures she brings to life. I simply loved her characters!
For the King's Favor is based on the true story of Ida de Tosney, the young mistress of King Henry II and the man she chooses to marry, Roger Bigod, an honourable man who patiently waits for the earldom he is to inherit. The story spans almost twenty years from when Ida is seduced at a young age and becomes the King's mistress against her will (a role she is ashamed of) to when her family and happiness are complete after being married to Roger for eighteen years.
There is plenty of action and romance in this novel. Chadwick follows the political events of the time and how they affect Ida and Roger who are closely tied to the royal court. Ida gives birth to a son by the king before she marries Roger and the heartrending choice she has to make when she leaves the court to start a new life with Roger plagues her throughout her life. Roger's stepbrothers and stepmother continuously fight him over the issue of the inheritance of the earldom since Roger's father annulled his first marriage in which Roger was conceived. (I was surprised at the ease in which people could do this'annul a marriage even after the conception of children. I suppose it was similar to divorce but without the stigma?)
These conflicts are well developed in the story and are enhanced by the fragility of court relationships, which can instantly change or reverse depending on the whims of those in power.Read more ›
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Engrossing and EntertainingAug. 30 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Originally posted on: [...]
Disenfranchised while still in their teens, both Ida de Tosney and Roger Bigod are at the mercy of the self-centered King Henry, then King Richard, and finally King John. The unquenchable desire to realize their dreams drive both of them makes some bitter choices. Although they must fight different battles, each of them refuses to remain a victim of the machinations of royalty during turbulent times.
Ida pays an incredibly high emotional price to be allowed to marry Roger, the man she loves rather than someone the king picks for her. Her deep need to feel safe, loved, and secure gives her courage and fuels her efforts. After the marriage, she does not rely on her striking beauty, but uses her intelligence, talents, and industrious nature to help Roger as he strives to regain his earldom even s she nurtures their children and manages a large household during his long absences. Her loneliness is overwhelming at times.
Roger pledged to service the king in his efforts to regain the earldom his father lost in rebellion. His legal knowledge and his military prowess keep him at the king's beck and call for months on end. He knows this is the price he must pay to get his earldom back.
His and Ida's love is tested to the limit and family ties are stretched almost to the breaking point. His pledged service to the king, evading the traps his stepmother and her sons lay for him, and working to keep his holding prosperous while the kings strip England of her wealth to further their own agendas test his and Ida's physical and emotional mettle again and again.
In For the King's Favor, medieval England throbs with festering political and religious sores as well as an infestation of the seven deadly sins in the extreme. The characters and their deeds linger in the mind long after the last word is read.
Elizabeth Chadwick weaves a tapestry of a tale that is spellbinding. She weaves in a multitude of characters that use their astuteness to maneuver through a maze of intrigues conflicts in the powerful plot. With historically accurate facts, she weaves a background bustling with life that encompasses all levels of the society at the time. Best of all, she weaves in a love story that fills the heart with joy and satisfaction making the whole tapestry shine with hope for the future. For the King's Favor is one for the bookshelf.
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
A fantastic novel set in a very turbulent time!Aug. 29 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I love Elizabeth Chadwick's books and always look forward to a new one eagerly. This novel was published (in the UK I believe) as "The Time of Singing" but I had never read it so I was excited when the opportunity arose to review the novel for it's US release. I was not disappointed - but then, I have never been disappointed with Ms. Chadwick's novels. I gave this novel a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The novel tells the story of Roger Bigod, heir to the earldom of Norfolk, and Ida de Tosney, mistress to Henry II. While at Henry's court to settle his inheritance, Roger meets Ida, Henry's somewhat reluctant mistress and mother to his illegitimate son William Longespee, and something sparks between the two. What follows is a story full of conflicts as Roger and Ida try to form a life together - Roger constantly having to prove he is not the traitor his father was, Ida's heartbreaking choice as a mother, the ongoing problem with Roger's stepmother over the Norfolk inheritance, and the troubles within the royal family - and all this is after Roger has to truly "win" his lady love and get permission from the King to marry his former mistress!
While this may all sound a bit fantastic, Roger and Ida's story is true, which makes this novel so much more lovely. Readers who have enjoyed the series on William Marshal will be thrilled to see him appear here in as a secondary character. Unlike William Marshal, there is no where near as much recorded history about Roger Bigod; however Ms. Chadwick is able to piece together what is known with her little bits of creativity flawlessly, creating a very believable character and story. Her attention to historical detail and accuracy is again very obvious but you do not feel like you are being beaten over the head with information. Once again she has used her wonderful talent of effortlessly recreating medieval life for her readers making it easy for a modern person to picture what life was truly like for these very real people. She has created characters that are multi-dimensional and a joy to read about, taking people who could have been lost in the mists of time and given them new life. I thought Roger Bigod, while not a stud like William Marshal, was a good, noble, and honorable man and it was very easy for me to root for him throughout the novel. While reading I noticed that Roger's struggle with his stepmother and stepbrothers slightly resembled a "Cinderella" type story and that gave me a little chuckle. Ida's story is heartbreaking at points (my heart ached for her when she would pull William's baby shoes out and look at them). Her struggle to rebuild a relationship with the son she had to give up is very touching and Ms. Chadwick brilliantly shows what a rough life a medieval woman - even a noble born one - had to struggle through. Just like modern couples, Roger and Ida have some serious conflicts to work through during the course of the novel, making their story even more accessible to readers. The other characters in the novel all have a very distinct personality and it is easy to like them or despise them. I found myself really disliking Ida's firstborn, William, as he grew older; his arrogance really grated on my nerves and his snobbish ideas on his mother's new family made me want to spank him. Beyond the characters populating the novel, there is wonderful description of the extremely turbulent times Roger and Ida are trying to struggle through. Life could be quite rough on a normal basis but at this point in time there was the added danger of political intrigue nobles had to navigate through and Ms. Chadwick does a superb job of portraying how this threat could really hang over someone's head, influencing every aspect of their life. One surprise for me was the fact I really enjoyed all the information on the rebuilding of the Bigod estate, Framlingham, in Norfolk. I also enjoyed seeing characters that figure into Ms. Chadwick's newest novel about Roger Bigod's son Hugh and the Marshal's oldest daughter Mahelt. It is amazing how she is able to weave all these stories together, even in separate books!
I will caution some readers - this is not an action packed, super suspenseful novel. It is a well written story of two people struggling to create a life together amidst a very turbulent time. It is a very enjoyable read (but of course we are talking about Elizabeth Chadwick!) that will introduce the reader to two little known figures in history. I can easily recommend this book to all readers. Chadwick fans will certainly enjoy another fantastic novel, readers who are rather picky about the historical accuracy in their historical fiction will be pleased with the attention to research, and those who aren't picky will get facts that aren't skewed out of shape to fit the author's storyline. Pick this one up; I don't think you will be disappointed!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Oh Madam, may I please have some more?March 29 2011
D. L. Lederman
- Published on Amazon.com
I was introduced to Chadwick in my quest to find great historical fiction (not romance). The first Chadwich novel I was fortunate enough to read was The Scarlet Lion, which is the second of two books about the life of William Marshall - an intriquing player during the time of the first Plantagenets (12th and early 13th century Britain and Ireland). The protagonists of For the King's Favor are not developed in these books and basically provide background. In To Defy a King, Chadwick explores the life of Mahelt Marshall (William's daughter) and her marriage to the heir to the Earldom of Norfolk - Hugh Bigod.
William Marshall himself had been portrayed as a bit player in history until Chadwick became interested in his life. And lucky for us, she found the Bigod family interesting!
When summed up factually, most people would find Roger Bigod (Malhelt's father-in-law) a bit ho-hum. He was an Earl whose parents had their marriage anulled so he grew up with his stepmother and brothers-in-law. While struggling to claim his legacy (contested by his stepmother and stepbrothers) he marries one of King Henry II's cast off mistresses. She goes to live with him on his estate and becomes a Countess when he becomes an earl. Her son by Henry II stays at court, where he gains prestige and riches due to his relationship to Henry and his half-brothers: Kings Richard and John. The end.
But Chadwick has taken a toothbrush, toothpick and Q-tip to dig out all the gritty particulars of this tale. For example, why did his mother and father get their marriage anulled? What was Roger's relationship with his mother like? His father? His stepmother and her sons?
And what about Ida? Did she go willingly to Henry's bed? How did they meet? How old was she at that time? How did she feel about her son by Henry? How did Roger feel about him? And her sons by Roger, what type of relationship did they have with her first, illegitimate son? Whas Roger jealous of her previous life? Was Henry jealous of her life with Roger?
Not only are these questions brought to life in high detail, they are done so while set against the historical and political world of their time. We gain insights to what it must have felt like to be a person living during those times, and in particular, a woman living during those times.As a mother, one scene that delighted me took place when Ida and Countess Isabelle Marshall meet while they are picking off treats from the dessert sublety to take home for their children.
I just hope Chadwick finds more personalities from either that time period or another, because I am HOOKED!
And a brief note about the reviewer who felt that her wording was simplistic. I am quite surprised at that comment. Because one of the elements of Chadwicks writings that entrance me is the poesy of her prose. In fact, I would even go so far as to compare the beauty of her prose with that of Thomas Hardy.
Try the book. And see if you can stop at just one!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent historical fictionOct. 13 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Historical fiction is not my norm; I usually find it either boring, absurd, or too "romancy" for my tastes. This book was different. I'm not well versed in the history of the 12th century, and there isn't a lot of info about the main characters of this book; but my research about the author left me feeling comfortable that this was supportable fiction woven into well researched history.
The story flowed well, the characters were well developed, and as the story progressed the pace and tension increased I found myself eager to reach the end to know everything, yet dreading that point because I didn't want the story to end. Now *that's* a well written story.
I appreciated my Kindle for it's ease of use with this large book. It was light weight and easy to hold; plus being able to access the built-in dictionary when I came across several of the "historical" words was pure joy. While I found it frustrating at times to have to deal with those "historical" words -- they worked because they so aptly fit the time frame of the story. I also wondered if readers in the UK might understand some of the language easier than those in America.
All in all, the story was a delight, I learned a bit about some people from the 12th Century, and I discovered a new author.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Simply MagnificentMarch 30 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Elizabeth Chadwick's superb new novel, The Time of Singing, details the life of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk during the time of Henry II and his sons. Chadwick's ability to bring history to life is never more apparent than it is in this illustrious depiction of the political and human world of medieval England.
Bigod, who was a companion of William Marshal, the subject of two of Chadwick's earlier novels, is first found as a young man who defies his father's rebellion and must come to terms with the type of man he will be. Bigod must constantly walk a narrow path in order to receive what is rightfully his, and the family drama of fighting for the inheritance follows him throughout his life. Interwoven in Roger's story is that of his wife, Ida, who was once the reluctant mistress of Henry II, and whose love and support provide Bigod with the stability he didn't experience early on in life. Chadwick expertly weaves fact into fiction as we see how Roger and Ida overcome the obstacles of the turbulent times in which they lived.
Once again, Elizabeth Chadwick has given us an outstanding glimpse into the lives of actual people who lived so long ago. The writing is engrossing and the plot is well paced. I could easily envision all the characters and events, and as usual, I was sad to let go of my medieval friends when I closed the last page. Storytelling at its finest! Highly, highly recommended.
(This review is from the original UK version, The Time of Singing).