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Monday, September 7, 2015

Dina Sleiman: Chivalrous

By Kelly Bridgewater


Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers. However, that is not an option for her, not even in the Arthurian-inspired Eden where she dwells. Her parents view her only as a marriage pawn, and her domineering father is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit. 

When handsome, good-hearted Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, Gwendolyn spies in him the sort of fellow she could imagine marrying. Yet fate seems determined to keep them apart. Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.

My Thoughts:

From Amazon
Dina Sleiman’s Chivalrous captures the barely told reality of what occurs to women during the early thirteenth century. After reading and loving Sleiman’s first book in this series, Dauntless, I couldn’t wait to be transported back to the medieval period and read the story of Gwendolyn and Allen.

A girl with her own ideas, caught in extraordinary events. Gwendolyn pushed the envelope with her own desires to run free and be seen as an equal with men. But her father bruised her spirit and saw her only as a piece of meat on the chopping block, being sold to the highest bidder. No matter how cruel the winner would be. As long as they had money and could control her. Gwendolyn wanted nothing more than to fall in love with a gentle and chivalrous man who would love her and allow her to be who God made her to be.

Just like Gwendolyn, I enjoyed spending more time with Allen. Allen was part of the love triangle involving Timothy and Merry in Dauntless. Returning to a familiar character helped anchored me. The difference was seeing Allen and understanding his noble intentions and love for God. I really admired his soft and gentle spirit, but he wasn’t a weakingly. Allen could fight against the strongest men in the country and win.

Majority of the conflict centers on Gwendolyn, internally and externally. She has to decide whether to be the noble woman she was brought up to be and allow the man her father chooses  to marry her. Or should she choose to follow her heart and marry the man she has fallen head over heels in love with, who appreciates her true spirit as a wild mustang roaming the outer realms, wild and carefree.  

Sleiman does a great job at inviting the readers into the story world. Since the plot takes place in the early thirteenth century, no one can tell us first-hand accounts of what happened in the century. I believe Sleiman did her research and made the world come to life. She studied what the knights would wear when they joust and studied how women were actually treated. I felt Gwendolyn’s sympathy and struggle against marrying a man who would control her with an iron fist. Majority of stories or movies that I have watched do not really focus on the mistreatment of women during this time period; most of them glamorize living in a castle and having a knight fight for a woman’s hand.

I would have liked to less of  Rosalind, Gwendolyn’s hand-maiden perspective. It felt like I got taken out of the story and thrust into her head. Characters are supposed to add something to the overall plot, but she really did not. Almost everything she told us could have been told through Gwendolyn’s perspective. Sleiman enjoyed using the word chivalrous and putting Gwendolyn on the spot with the abusive man over and over again. It got annoying after a while.

In conclusion, Dina L. Sleiman’s Chivalrous, is a slow moving story with a strong heroine and hero who stand up for the rights of the downtrodden by empathizing the underside of how woman were treated. Fans of Sleiman’s first book and Melanie Dickerson’s fairy tale writings would enjoy this story.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

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