The Wild Hunt
By Elizabeth Chadwick
St. Martin’s Press
Guyon, Lord of Ledworth, is told by the king that he will be marrying. His future wife, Judith of Ravenstow, is a child and he’s none too happy with the arrangement which will make him an Earl and a pawn to keep an evil treacherous man from clutching more land and power.
Guyon is loathe to leave the mistress he’s been with for a number of years but they both know it can go no further with his impending marriage. Reluctantly, they part and he finds himself married to a willful and terrified Judith, who having been traumatized by her father’s beatings and brutality, is scared of him and what he might do to her. She is a skilled healer and capable of running a strict household but innocent and helpless when it comes to her husband. Guyon treats her with nothing but kindness and the two become less tense around each other. The war deposits several tragedies at their feet and Guyon and Judith grow closer and find a true love that neither thought was possible.
I’ve been wanting to read The Greatest Knight by Chadwick but my library doesn’t have it. I found this one on the shelf and was pleasantly surprised by it. I was a bit annoyed by Judith — who while headstrong and competent, she’s also young and inexperienced. She doesn’t want Guyon to herself but she also wants no one else to have him. Guyon, on the other hand, is quite likable and the relationship between the two becomes more tolerable and even compelling by the middle of the book.
Chadwick does a great job with characters, even the ones you don’t like. They are all very genuine and the story, while nothing new — war over land, drunken lords, raping, pillaging, etc. — it feels different and slightly exciting. I’m going to be picking up more of her books in the future.