This is #5 in the William Marshal series, detailing the events in the life of William Marshal in detail. Marshal is a peripheral character in this novel of his daughter’s marriage and life as the wife if Hugh Bigod, eldest son of the Earl of Norfolk. The Marshalls hope to make a safe marriage for a beloved daughter, but in the trouble times of King John, there is no safety.
This novel goes into detail, almost on a daily basis, of the life of a high-class woman of her time. Her responsibilities are heavy, and at times in her husband’s absence, she is forced to make decisions and live with the consequences.
The defiance of a the king refers to the barons forcing King John to sign the Magna Carta, although it may also refer to Mahelt’s personal defiance of John’s unwanted advances to her. In her life, one is momentous as the other. Although not quite chattel, she knows her place is to be a faithful and industrious wife to Hugh and bear him many children in the hope that enough will survive to carry on his name.
Elizabeth has a gift for filling a book with daily incidents to give the reader a sense of the life of a high-status medieval woman.