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The Time of Singing by Elilzabeth Chadwick

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Alaric
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Post by Alaric » Wed October 22nd, 2008, 7:47 am

[quote=""EC2""]I would say the Marshal books are bloke friendly Alaric. The earlier ones are perhaps just a tad more female oriented because they are more romance orientated. When asked I usually say that I'm like Bernard Cornwell in reverse. His core readership are blokes but with a strong outer ring of female readers (self included in that). My core readership are generally women but with a strong outer ring of male readers. In fact I've just had a male reader letter in today re The Greatest Knight. It's not appropriate I think to post it here, but I'll PM you with it so you can see what another bloke thinks.[/quote]

Thanks for the PM, EC. I'll try and make sure I find time to read the Marshal books sometime next year - so much to read! And being like Bernard Cornwell is certainly one way to get me interested. :p

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Telynor
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Post by Telynor » Mon December 8th, 2008, 4:36 am

Finished TTOS, and enjoyed it very much. It's going to be hard to wait until January for my next EC fix -- I am rationing her work out to one a month so I don't flame out, and I almost always have something new to read. I'll get a review up soon.

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Telynor
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Post by Telynor » Thu December 11th, 2008, 5:41 am

(Telynor's take on The Time of Singing. Big thumbs up!)

This year I have been happily wallowing in the novels of English author, Elizabeth Chadwick. I've been parceling them out slowly so that I won't get burned out with her writing, and to be able to come to each book with renewed enthusiasm.

The Time of Singing, is her latest novel, set in the years of Henry II's rule as King of England, and as the story opens, a young man, Roger Bigod, is set against his father. Not that it is a difficult choice for Roger - life is miserable at home with his power-hungry father, Hugh, the Earl of Norfolk, and his stepmother, Gundreda, has been making his life wretched trying to push her own son, Huon, forward to be his father's heir. Roger hears nothing but that he is useless, cowardly, and a disgrace to his family.

Roger, as we soon find out, is none of those things. He decides to strike out on his own, taking allegiance with Henry II, and does brilliantly at the battle of Fordham, rallying the troops with a banner from the shrine of St. Edmund. It's an act that will earn him a place in King Henry's notice, and he sets off on a life as a king's knight, hoping to earn his way into inheriting his father's estates and title by achievement as well as blood. But it also pits him against Gundreda and her sons in an endless conflict.

Another person has caught King Henry's interest. A young ward of the king, Ida de Tosney, is pretty, gentle and of noble birth. It's enough to have him make an advance to her, an experience that Ida doesn't exactly welcome but she hasn't the skills or rank to turn him down either. She becomes his concubine, and while this does give her some royal favour and gifts, it also is less than a honourable situation. When she has a son, William, she knows that her time with the king may be ending. And that ending brings about a terrible price for her - giving up her child to Henry's care.

When Ida and Roger meet, there is certainly attraction there, and the pair embark on a careful courtship. Roger is smitten by the young woman, seeing in Ida the care and stability that he?s always wanted, and Ida sees in him a new future and possibilities. But there are some deep seated conflicts there as well; King Henry doesn't trust Roger not to be the traitor that his father was, and Ida has to struggle with the memories that giving up her son William leave behind. There's also the ever-present threat of Gundreda and her sons, especially Huon, and others who covet Roger's achievements. We also get to see Roger and Ida's children growing up, along with Ida's firstborn, who would become known to history as William Longespee (Longsword), along with several other true stories from the middle ages - such as Richard the Lionheart's captivity in Germany and his brother John's treachery.

Lest the reader think that the story of Roger and Ida is too improbable, it's all true. While the identification of William Longespee's mother has been fairly recent, the story of Roger Bigod has been well-documented. Other characters from history make an appearance as well, and readers of The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion will be pleased to see a return look at William Marshal and Isabelle de Clare. Sharp-eyed readers will also see a reference to The Winter Mantle as well.

One of the really strong points in Elizabeth Chadwick's writing is that she has a very strong grasp of recreating the daily life of the medieval period without sliding into explainitis. We get to know her characters' habits and likes, such as Roger's craving for fine hats, and that Ida is an excellent embroiderer - but we learn this subtlety, and it works well. She is also able to give plenty of emotional anguish as well, especially the conflicts that a husband and wife who must be separated at times, and the fury that can descend in their wake - Ida and Roger have real problems to overcome, and they don't feel at all contrived. One of the best aspects of Ms. Chadwick's novels are the use of children in her stories; they help to create a sense of continuity in her novels, giving a sense of reality and grounding as well as the fact that she knows how children behave, speak and act. It's a terrific touch and helps to raise her novels beyond the ordinary historical novel or romance.

And it may be a small thing, but it's a terrific thing to see a cover that not just depicts the heroine accurately, but also isn't one of those 'headless heroine' covers that has been littering the publishing field lately.

Summing up, fans of Ms. Chadwick's work will be wanting to add this one to their collections of her books, and it's a knockout, five star read.
Last edited by Telynor on Thu December 11th, 2008, 5:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Thu December 11th, 2008, 11:58 am

Wow, thanks Telynor! So glad you enjoyed The Time of Singing. I have a 'gallery' of sketches of Roger's hats, courtesy of Alison, waiting their turn to go on my blog. I regretted not being able to get hold of one particular historical document that would have given me more detail on the dispute between Roger and his step mother, but even the official body who were supposed to have a copy couldn't find it, so I had to break off there and acknowledge I'd done as much as I could. Someone else has recently written a university thesis on Roger Bigod and I haven't been able to access that either, but I think I've managed to collate enough information off my own bat.
I have a translated copy of the Bradenstoke Cartulary where Longespee gives alms for the souls of 'Ela his wife and the Countess Ida, his mother.' This has been around for a while, but no one knew which Ida it was as there was more than one Countess Ida and the Norfolk connection wasn't favoured until a list of prisoners from Bouvines turned up in a French archive and there listed was Ralph Bigod, brother to William Longespee. A lot of Longespee's charters emphasise the fact that he was 'son of the king' or 'brother of the king.' I think it was a big deal to him.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Thu December 11th, 2008, 2:47 pm

explainitis
I like that one, it perfectly describes the way EC depicts the period.

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Telynor
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Post by Telynor » Thu December 11th, 2008, 3:32 pm

[quote=""EC2""]Wow, thanks Telynor! So glad you enjoyed The Time of Singing.
I have a translated copy of the Bradenstoke Cartulary where Longespee gives alms for the souls of 'Ela his wife and the Countess Ida, his mother.' This has been around for a while, but no one knew which Ida it was as there was more than one Countess Ida and the Norfolk connection wasn't favoured until a list of prisoners from Bouvines turned up in a French archive and there listed was Ralph Bigod, brother to William Longespee. A lot of Longespee's charters emphasise the fact that he was 'son of the king' or 'brother of the king.' I think it was a big deal to him.[/quote]

I liked how you showed Longespee in TTOS -- what an arrogant young snot he was! Of course he would make much of being the king's son, especially old king Henry's get. And from what I remembered in Penman, she had John be rather fond of him. I take it we'll be seeing more of him in your next book, and I hope to learn some more about Ela of Salisbury -- she seems such a shadowy figure.

You've pointed up just why I like your books so much -- you do the research, and then work it in without it being pendantic or overwhelming for the reader. I can't stand it when i'm reading happily along and then the author breaks off the narrative to 'tell' me or 'explain' why X was so important than Y. Or they fling in modern attitudes or idiom, and that just breaks the spell as it were.

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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Wed August 6th, 2014, 10:22 am

I'm about halfway through this now and enjoying it so far. I've got a real "feel" for Roger and Ida, they come across very vividly and I like the little touches that EC puts in, such as Roger's fondness for hats, and the lovely descriptions of Ida's embroidery. It's great to see William Marshal back again, he and Roger certainly seem to be cut from the same cloth re their personality traits. And I can definitely see Jamie Bamber as Roger....
Currently reading "Destroying Angel" by S G MacLean

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Nefret
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Post by Nefret » Wed August 6th, 2014, 10:36 pm

What is the US copy called again? Mine is backed away in a moving box.
Into battle we ride with Gods by our side
We are strong and not afraid to die
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled
WE´LL FIGHT TILL THE END! And send our enemies straight to Hell!
- "Into Battle"
{Ensiferum}

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Thu August 7th, 2014, 12:01 am

[quote=""Nefret""]What is the US copy called again? Mine is backed away in a moving box.[/quote]

For the King's Favor. Btw, those giving Kindle Unlimited a try, this is on the lust of available books.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Thu August 7th, 2014, 11:30 am

[quote=""Misfit""]For the King's Favor. Btw, those giving Kindle Unlimited a try, this is on the lust of available books.[/quote]

I like that! I know it's a typo Misfit, but 'lust of available books' sounds great! :D
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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