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“Great historical fiction as usual from Elizabeth Chadwick. I suppose this book should be classified as a romance, but what makes it different is Chadwick's sometimes cool style. She really gets into the mindset of the medieval woman, for whom an arranged marriage was just something she would have been prepared for her whole life. In Chadwick's novels the heroines are usually not melodramatic about this, they make the best of what they get in life, just like I suppose most real women would have.”Fijke wrote this review Tuesday, March 26, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A PLACE BEYOND COURAGE by Elizabeth Chadwick is an heart-wretching historical fiction set in 1130. “Based on the true story of John FitzGilbert, marshal to three kings and one empress.” What a gripping tale of honor,pride,betrayal,courage,loyalty,and sacrifice. Written with vivid descriptions and characters that will captivate,and hold your heart. *You will need tissues for this one,especially toward the end of the story*. Ms. Chadwick has written a story that is gut-wretching as will as thrilling,fast paced with twists and turns. It will take you back to a Medieval era. FitzGilbert had not only honor and courage but a steadfast duty to king and country at all cost. What an amazing man! I don’t believe I could have done what he did,but you must read this story to find more about what sacrifice he chose to make for his king,and country. “A Place Beyond Courage” will captivate any reader who enjoys not only historical fiction but who also enjoys historical romance,Medieval era,and a visit with men of honor. A must read! Received for an honest review from the publisher. Details can be found at the author’s website,Sourcebooks Landmark,and My Book Addiction and More.
HEAT RATING: MILD
REVIEWED BY: AprilR, My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews”
A Place Beyond Courage tells the story of John FitzGilbert, marshal to England's King Henry II and father to William Marshall, who is himself the subject of an Elizabeth Chadwick novel titled The Greatest Knight. In his years of dedicated service to his king, John's loyalty has never been questioned, but when Henry II dies and his nephew Stephen claims the throne, John finds his position at court no longer secure and is forced to make a decision about where to place his loyalties. But committing himself to Empress Matilda's cause puts John's life and lands under constant threat from the King and his supporters. After several years of conflict, John forms an alliance with one of his enemies in an effort to keep his lands safe. This alliance, however, means John must divorce his wife, Aline, a woman better suited for life in a convent, and marry Sybilla, the daughter of his enemy. Although initially wed for purely strategic purposes, John and Sybilla's marriage turns into a love match, and together they meet head on the challenges that face both them and their country.
One of the things I like best about Chadwick's novels is the rich historical detail woven into each story. This detail vividly brings to life the eras in which Chadwick's novels are set. I also appreciate how Chadwick is able to strike the right balance between the character-driven aspects of her plot and those aspects that, along with rich historical detail, create a strong sense of time and place. As a result, readers become intimately familiar not only with Chadwick's characters, but also with the personalities and events that shaped the world they lived in. A Place Beyond Courage is no exception, painting vibrant portraits of both John FitzGilbert and Sybilla of Salisbury, while also chronicling King Stephen and Empress Matilda's war for the English crown that permeated virtually every aspect of their lives.
Highly recommended to all readers of historical fiction, especially those with an interest in the medieval era and English history. ”
“Ever since I first picked up The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick I have been entranced with the Marshal family – be it William, Mahelt, or now, John Marshal. I had heard from many other readers who had read the previously released UK version of this novel that this was a wonderful read and it certainly did not disappoint.
John Marshal is always known for the “hammers and anvil” speech that he gave to King Stephen at Newbury Castle – and this incident leads people to believe him to be a harsh, uncaring, man. Chadwick’s Marshal is much more of a compassionate man who had to have the courage to make the tough, right decisions. Chadwick builds a person that we can believe in and understand that his decision to leave his son, William, with the King was not one that was made lightly.
We meet John Marshal’s two wives in this novel, Aline and Sybilla, and these two women could not have been more different. Aline was a more quiet, reserved, deeply religious woman, while Sybilla was more passionate, outgoing, and a great hostess. I have to say that I couldn’t wait to see Aline leave the scene, not only because she was not compatible at all with John, but because she was so boring. I kept thinking “get with the program and do your duties!” Sybilla was much more interesting to read about because she knew what her responsibilities were and was a great helpmate to John.
My favorite scenes were those that did not involve John or Aline or Sybilla – but little William. Of course I enjoyed reading about him in The Greatest Knight and the other novels, but these small scenes allowed the reader to get to know where he got some of his ways from and give us a little preview of the future William Marshal.
As with all of her novels, Chadwick really knows how to create some great drama. I have to say, without giving anything away, that the scenes at Wherwell Abbey were fantastic. Each chapter pulls you immediately into the next chapter and it is truly an “unputdownable” read.”
“I received an advance copy of this book from a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads, and was rather excited when it arrived. I dove right into reading it, and was happily immersed in the vividly-described world of John Marshal. I must admit I was not a fan of Aline and her weak nature, nor the way the story progressed slowly until her departure, but once the action picked up, I found myself reading more and more at a stretch, wanting to know what happened next. This is the first book I have read by this author (though her works come highly recommended by a dear friend who is my personal authority on all books historical), and I am in awe of the amount of research and thought that have obviously gone into this book. Now that I'm finished, I shall eagerly hand the copy over to my mom, so she can share in the joy of reading it. ”Katie M wrote this review Wednesday, October 3, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“When I think of medieval fiction writers I think of Elizabeth Chadwick. She is the go to author for me and this was another great novel.
John FitzGilbert was the father of the more famous William Marshal. But this is John's book. He was King Henry II's marshal, he was young and went for what he wanted. I liked how he was portrayed, even in his darkest moments. Because in the end you can't know what he thought and felt and I felt what she wrote here was very possible.
His first wife was Aline, yeah, the less we talk about her the better. She was weak. His second marriage was a political one since he was feuding with his neighbor. So he out aside Aline and married Sybilla. Again this could have made me dislike him, but to save his children, his future and life it was just something he had to do. Life back then was not easy for women, but we all know that already.
The novel takes place during the civil war when Matilda and her cousin Stephen fights for the throne. And of course we got John in the middle of it all, trying to pick a side and stay alive. Not that easy in a time like that.
Chadwick is always so good with the little details. I feel like I am there over 800 years ago. It feels real. I am watching the story in my head while reading it.
And the things I learn, it was the Marshal's job to take care of the royal whores. Yes, he brought in new blood and saw to that they kept their standards. He did sample the wares too ;)
I know that when I want good historical fiction then Chadwick's books are the ones to read. Medieval life comes alive while reading.”
“She is becoming one of my favorite authors.”Library Worker Bee wrote this review Thursday, October 20, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This was a bit slow in places.”Jenny wrote this review Thursday, September 15, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A place beyond courage is about John FitzGilbert who was marshall to Henry I then once Henry I died pledged allegiance to Stephen. However he realised that he had more enemies in the Stephen camp so switched sides to the Empress Matilda. It is also about his 2 wives - Aline and Sybilla. Ordinarily I would have felt sorry for a character like his first wife Aline but I think Chadwick portrayed the frustrations John had with his first wife very well. The sacrifices that John had to make were incomprehensible to me but I like how Chadwick drew her conclusions (explained in author's note at back) and showed that John may have not been as callous as believed.
This book had a great pace and made me want to keep picking it up. I really enjoyed reading about William Marshall's parents and I found William Marshall as a child endearing. It makes me want to read The Greatest Knight to learn more about him. I also didn't know much about Empress Matilda and her struggle with Stephen for the crown. This book gave an insight into this long period of war.
Will certainly be reading more of Elizabeth Chadwick's work.”
“A well researched beautifully written novel full of meticulous period detail. Elizabeth Chadwick brings every page to life - so much so that I felt transported there.
A Place Beyond Courage is a prequel to The Greatest Knight and focuses on John FitzGilbert, the marshall of Henry I and father of William Marshal. An ambitious man, John needs all the intelligence and resourcefulness he can muster to survive, when Henry dies without naming his heir. After Henry's nephew Stephen usurps Henry's daughter, Matilda for the crown, the country is thrown into civil war as both sides battle it out. Caught between the two factions, John has to make a terrible choice that could have devastating consequences for his family.
My first introduction to this author did not disappoint. The characters are totally convincing and the portrayal of the young William, held hostage by King Stephen simply endearing. Chadwick does a great job showing the complexity of John's character and the difficult position in which he was placed. The dynamic relationship of John and Sybilla was also pleasure to read as was the friendship between John and Robert of Gloucester. I can't wait to read Chadwick's next installment.”