Original date of publication: 2003
My edition: 2008 (Sphere)
Why I decided to read: I needed a good comfort read
How I acquired my copy: Amazon UK, May 2009
After reading the harrowing Wish Her Safe at Home, I needed a book that was going to be comfort reading, and so I turned to a sure thing: Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Falcons of Montabard, a book that’s been sitting on my bookshelves for ages but was waiting for the right time to be read.
The story opens on November 25, 1120, the eve of the sinking of the White Ship. Sabin Fitzsimon is a young knight who, having seduced one of the mistresses of the king and murdered a man, is put into the service of Edmund Strongfist. Strongfist takes his entourage to the Holy Land, taking with him his daughter, Annais. Sabin is strongly sttracted to Annais, but he has promised his employer, and himself, that he’ll stay away from her. True to form, however, they keep being thrown together, and the result is almost predictable. But getting to that end result is the fun of the novel, for there are many twists and turns before Sabin and Annais can be united.
Whenever I read one of Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels, I always wonder, “how does she do that?” over and over again. The period details of her books are always exquisite, and she truly gets the reader to know her characters intimately. There is wonderful character development in this novel, too. I never get the sense that these are modern people dressed in 12th century clothing, and I always wonder how Elizabeth Chadwick gets to know her period so well—maybe it’s an innate thing by this point? I wish that all authors of historical fiction could write like this!