Medieval lords and ladies live and love—and launch a lot of rocks and arrows at each other—in 12th-century England.
Brunin FitzWarin is the hero of British author Chadwick’s (Lords of the White Castle, 2002, etc.) historically based, occasionally ripping tale of life and war at the beginning of Henry II’s reign. When young Brunin’s father decides that the quiet lad won’t amount to anything if he’s raised at home, he sends him to squire for his ally, Joscelin de Dinan. Years pass, and under the tutelage of the kind yet exacting de Dinan, the brooding Brunin grows into a well-muscled man, keeping just enough of his dark mysteriousness to attract the attention of de Dinan’s red-haired (and therefore feisty, naturally) daughter, Hawise. As childhood games turn to flirtation, Henry II ascends the throne, calling on both the FitzWarins and de Dinans to aid him in his bloody struggle. Brunin finds himself fighting for his king—and his life—soon after marrying Hawise. Amid the chaos, the Welsh capture Brunin’s inheritance while de Dinan’s rival Gilbert de Lacy (with the help of Brunin’s childhood rival Ernalt de Lysle) plots to steal de Dinan’s land, meaning our hero must now not only serve his king but regain his family’s land and help protect the castle of his in-laws, all while keeping a bevy of similar-sounding names and places straight. Perhaps most daunting of all, he needs to get his red-tressed bride pregnant or face the wrath—and mockery—of his sharp-tongued and mean-spirited grandmother.
Like an old sword: mostly dull, but with a few bright spots.