St. Martin's, Apr 2002, 26.95, 614 pp.
In 1184 as a favor to the lad's powerful family, King Henry II allows fifteen year old Fulke FitzWarin to join his teenage son Prince John's retinue as a squire. Coming from the Welsh Marshes, Fulke is considered a country bumpkin by the Prince. The eldest, Fulke must succeed if his family is to regain Whittington Castle lost generations ago, but still disputed. Fulke knows his tutor Master Glanville is the key for his family's plea, not the King.
John forces Fulke to play a game of chess. Planning to throw the game, Fulke gets caught up in the competition and checkmates John. The Prince accuses Fulke of cheating and hits him with the chessboard. Fulke retaliates in self-defense leading to John banging his head on the floor. A lifetime of bitter rivalry between John and Fulke begins that leads the latter into becoming an outlaw when the former becomes King.
LORDS OF THE WHITE CASTLE is biographical fiction at its most exciting best. Using the little factual information available about the real Fulke FitzWarin and the chronicle record written in his times, Elizabeth Chadwick paints a vivid picture of the medieval era by cleverly filling in the gaps with depth while staying true to what is considered authentic. The story line is loaded, cleverly designed, and never slows down focusing the plot on the key cast members especially Fulke, his wife, and John. This blend is a treat that historical fiction fans will want to read as the novel is sure to make everyone short lists of sub-genre best books of the year.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner