Be watchful of the jealous.
Publisher: Sphere (Little Brown)
First Published: 1991
Date Reviewed: 2nd January 2012
Please note that this is a review of the updated version of the book, which, it seems, was published in 2009.
Guyon’s (of The Wild Hunt) daughter Heulwen married Ralf, with whom she was infatuated – missing the affections Adam de Lacey was showing her. Now Ralf is dead, and despite the fact that Heulwen had always seen Adam as her brother since he was her father’s ward, she’s starting to feel differently about him. But Heulwen has all but said “I do” to Warrin de Mortimer, who, regardless of his arrogant nature, she is determined to marry. It will be a tough fight if Adam decides to give gaining Heulwen another shot, and both luckily and unluckily for him, there is more to Warrin than anyone knows.
The Running Vixen is a stand alone story that is relative to The Wild Hunt by way of the elders in the book – Heulwen’s parents are Guyon and Judith of The Wild Hunt, and they feature strongly enough in Heulwen’s story to warrant the reader going through the books in order. That said it is quite possible to read The Running Vixen by itself, as there is no back story prominent enough to be a concern.
The plot is simple and it is Chadwick’s talent for immersing the reader in history that keeps the book interesting. However there does come a point where you wonder what exactly kept Chadwick continuing the story, and while she later gives the reason, it was surely unnecessary draw it out. Sadly part of the interest in the book comes with the expectations given on its cover, which promise a forbidden love – the prospective reader may like to note that the family are quite happy with the match between Adam and Heulwen, as is the king, and this is obvious from the start considering Adam’s prestige.
The book contains many small battles, which make a good read albeit that there are many of them, and Chadwick includes information about why there were issues between the Normans and Welsh (the book’s main characters are entirely fictional, but the general setting is not).
If the story was stronger and had more “episodes” to it, The Running Vixen would be a fine specimen in Chadwick’s stack of books, but it is a little too everyday. The characters are good but similar to others of her creation, and while the main characters love each other they don’t tend to learn much about themselves as a couple when they surely should have.
If you have read some of Chadwick’s other books you will likely enjoy it but a new reader should leave it for a later time, as it is not the best example of what you can expect from the author. In this way, that it is the second in a series is of benefit.
May 17, 2012, 3:43 am
I haven’t even heard of this book by Chadwick! I think I have The Wild Hunt, but I don’t have this sequel- I’ll have to read the first and see how I like it. I do like Chadwick :-)
May 17, 2012, 9:48 am
To my shame, I haven’t read any Chadwick…yet…Where would you recommend I begin?
May 18, 2012, 12:55 am
I didn’t mind this one, but I already counted myself as a Chadwick fan by the time I got to it! I am thinking that I might start one of my few unread books by her today!
May 18, 2012, 9:18 am
Aarti: The Wild Hunt is brilliant from start to finish, so I’d definitely recommend it first. I like Chadwick a lot, for me the only issue is the length of some of the books, how the bulk of the story ends while there are still dozens of pages left – which is partly why The Wild Hunt is great, because it’s the perfect length for the story.
Teresa: I would recommend either The Wild Hunt, or Lords Of The White Castle. The first is pure fiction, the second based on facts. The others that I’ve read are good too, but they are either not as fast-paced or deal with a different topic to her usual ones (for example I liked The Marsh King’s Daughter but the context is economy and shipping which some people found too different).
Marg: I think that formed a little bit of the reason I wasn’t as keen, to be honest. Because some of her other work is so brilliant, ones that are less so do stand out. Go for it!