While serving as a squire at the court of Henry II, fifteen year old Fulke FitzWarin runs afoul of a drunken Prince John and fights back when John attacks him with a wooden chess board, leaving a grudge that both men carry into adulthood. The FitzWarin family fights to have Whittingdon Castle, that was taken from them during the Civil War, returned to them, yet upon Richard I’s death the now King John refuses to consider Fulke’s plea out of spite. Fulke and his brothers rebel against John and become outlaws, living in the woods and robbing whenever they can from John (hmmm, a bit similar to a certain legend?).
Fulke has carried a torch for Maud Walter, who was married to a much older Theobald Walter when she was very young. Recently widowed, and at risk of being married off to one of John’s henchmen, Fulke literally whisks her out from under John’s nose and marries her and she joins Fulke and his brothers as outlaws as they continue to fight to regain Whittingdon Castle.
There’s a whole lot more to the story than that, but as usual I’m not into book reports, read it for yourself. As always with Chadwick’s books, the way she brings the medieval period to life in such a graceful and effortless way, be it the sights, sounds, smells, food, clothes and battles is just awesome. As quoted on some of her book jackets, the next best thing to time travel. Chadwick has also written a prequel of sorts telling the story of Fulke’s parents, Shadows and Strongholds that I also highly recommend.