A tale set in England during the turbulent 12th century, when the repercussions of the Norman Conquest were still being felt – not just in England but in what we now know as France too – as Empress Matilda and her cousin King Stephen fought for the crown, bringing civil war, famine and fear to the country that Henry I had made strong and prosperous.
The man at the centre of the novel is John FitzGilbert, Lord Marshal of England, who after loyal service to Henry I, first supports Stephen and then switches sides to support Matilda, staying Lord Marshal throughout. He discards his first wife on the grounds of consanguinity, and swiftly makes a political and more profitable marriage to Sybilla of Salisbury.
As you might expect, Elizabeth Chadwick turns this somewhat unsavoury set of events into a tale of passion, heroism and honour – and whilst it is a good read, be prepared for rather a lot of battles and sieges.
Amazon.co.uk link: A Place Beyond Courage – Elizabeth Chadwick