Jacey's Reviews > The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt by Elizabeth Chadwick
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's review
Mar 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, historical-fiction, romance
Read in January, 2010

I don't read many historical novels but someone left an Elizabeth Chadwick at my house last year and I got hooked so I'm gradually reading my way through her whole back catalogue. This is her first novel, set at the turn of the 12th century at the time when William Rufus - heir to William the Conqueror - is holding Britain by the scruff of its neck despite political intrigue. Guyon, a comfortable bachelor and courtier, with a pregnant mistress, is heir to his uncle's estate at Ledworth, close to the Welsh borders. On his uncle's death the king grants him the right to take his rightful lands, but only on condition that he marries Judith of Ravenstowe to keep her holding from the rapacious border lords, de Belleme and de Lacy who between them are worse than the Welsh raiders who plague the area. The couple meet for the first time at their wedding. He's in his late twenties, she's barely fifteen.

Judith is terrified of men, marriage and especially sex. Brought up by an abusive father who treated her mother despicably, raping her in public and abusing her physically and mentally for not bearing him a son, Judith can't face the idea of being possessed and dominated. Despite their unconsummated marriage she's a competent housekeeper and herbalist, and in many ways a good wife to Guyon, Guyon sees her as a child at first. He's patient as she matures and though it takes more than a year, eventually friendship is established, love blossoms.

But in the meantime, at court, Prince Henry remarks how much Judith reminds him of his grandmother... and no wonder... It turns out that in desperation to please her horrible husband and bear him an heir, Judith's mother took a much younger man to her bed, and that same man – Prince Henry – is now poised on the brink of taking the throne on the death of William Rufus in a hunting 'accident'.

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