Dina L. Sleiman continues to write about young women in the Middle Ages who step out of conventional roles in stories of adventure, romance and faith.
In Chivalrous, Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight and even trains with her brothers. However, when her parents plan her marriage to an overbearing man, she takes matters into her own hands. She enters the upcoming tournament impersonating a man. Allen of Ellsworth also enters the tournament and finds himself facing the disguised Gwendolyn in the jousting contest.
Sleiman presents another 13th century young woman with courage to step outside the conventional role to find her true destiny. She isn’t waiting for a handsome knight to save her; she is willing to fight for her future. Gwendolyn bravely tries to escape the loveless marriage planned for her.
Chivalrous is both plot and character driven. The story is filled with plot twists that will engage the reader until the final page. One twist is a legend or prophecy; another is the plot to overthrow Gwendoyln’s father, the duke. Both play a central role in Allen and Gwendolyn’s future. Gwendolyn struggles with issues of worth as a woman in a culture where Divine Order reigns (nobles over peasants, men over women).
Like Dauntless, the faith elements in Chivalrous are strong but not overpowering. The characters struggle with understanding how their faith plays out in everyday life. While there is some magic and sorcery mentioned, it is consistent with the thought of that time period, i.e., viewed as evil.
Recommended for public libraries and school libraries. Fans of medieval young adult books by Melanie Dickerson and Lisa Bergren will enjoy this series. The third book in this series, Courageous, will be out next year.
Carol R. Gehringer