Saturday, May 19, 2012
A Place Beyond Courage
I believe this book, which was published in 2007 in the U.K. will be published in the U.S. sometime this summer.
Before this book I had read of John Marshal , in When Christ and His Saints Slept(Sharon Kay Penman), and of course, Wikipedia, so my impression of him was as a ruthless, heartless man who would stop at nothing to advance himself and his cause. Actually, in my mind I called him "Mr. Hammer and Anvils," because of his comment, while his son was being held hostage for his good behavior, that he had the "hammer and anvils to forge more and better sons."
So one day on Facebook I followed a discussion on Elizabeth Chadwick's page that involved women swooning over John...I was perplexed. After a lengthy discussion I decided I could not live another day without reading this book, and was disappointed to find out that I would have to order it from the U.K and wait. It was worth the wait.
The book follows John Marshal, before and during England's Civil War between Stephen former Count of Mortain and usurper of the English throne, and the Empress Matilda, rightful heir to her father's kingdom. In order to survive John has to make agonizing and dangerous decisions, some of which have been condemned through out time as mad, heartless, the actions of a lunatic. From having half of his face melted off while trapped in a burning church, to allowing his 5 year old son to be hung for his own "traitorous" behavior, to the more mundane things like trying out all the court prostitutes to make sure they were fit for service, this was an amazing, breath-holding page-turner. Although I well knew the Marshal's story long before I read this book, Elizabeth Chadwick is that rare sort of story-teller that makes you believe you are reading the story for the first time.
Once again, I can't stress enough that Elizabeth Chadwick is an amazing writer who makes you feel as though you are living the history. Her use of the Akashic Records is fascinating. So, here is to John Marshal, one of my new historical heroes.