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The Leopard Unleashed by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Leopard Unleashed (edition 1993)

by Elizabeth Chadwick

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934129,846 (3.93)11
Title:The Leopard Unleashed
Authors:Elizabeth Chadwick
Info:St Martins Pr (1993), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Read in 2012
Tags:Historical Fiction, The Wild Hunt Series (3), TIOLI #16: Read a Book that was a Gift, RTT Monthly: Medieval Theme

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The Leopard Unleashed by Elizabeth Chadwick


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(8/10) It took me a little while to get to the end of this as I got waylaid with another book and normal life! That being said I really enjoyed it, I felt that it ended the Ravenstow trilogy very well and loved the revisiting of characters from older books (always a little bittersweet as they age and their own stories conclude).

I really liked that the book starts with Renard on crusade (something you get much more detail on in Chadwick's novel The Falcons of Montabard btw), it added an extra element and some unique experience to his character and more importantly introduces Olwen. Olwen I found fascinating and noticed I devoured the chapters she was in the fastest. I couldn't quite figure her out and would have loved to see her in the book a bit more.

The main female character, Elene, I did like but found a bit tame at times, she almost felt like a pale imitation of Judith from the first book in the trilogy. She does however noticeably grow as a character throughout the book which was nice to follow. Romantically I didn't really feel the connection between her and Renard and found their passion for each other a bit vanilla to be honest, I enjoyed their relationship more as they settled into their marriage and got away from all that awkward first time angst.

As always with an EC novel, there was a great amount of historical context to draw you in to the period, lighter than later novels but if you are looking for a lightly historical easy read then this is the book for you (I would recommend reading the trilogy in order so you are acquainted with all of the characters that pop up). ( )
  LiteraryReadaholic | Mar 8, 2017 |
full review over at nordie.wordpress.com
  nordie | Apr 26, 2015 |

I did really enjoy this book (the Wild Hunt is one of my favorites), but there were a few things that I would have liked to see differently.

While generally I liked Renard, I didn't love him. As opposed to the relationship between Judith and Guyon in the Wild Hunt, I felt that Renard was driven more by a certain part of his anatomy, than his more tender emotions. And consequently, I never got the impression that Eleanor was indispensable to him. It was clear he came to care for her, but I think the only reference to that he loved her, came from the narrator. He never said it to her, and, again, his actions suggested more of a physical attraction to her than emotional. Renard's entire character seemed based around a need for "release" - thus his need for Olwen in the beginning and then subsequently every interaction with Eleanor. Therefore, I thought some of the sex was a little gratuitous and I would have liked to replace some of those scenes with more tender moments.

Regarding Olwen, I never felt that her and Renard's relationship got the right closure. She hurt his pride and as time passed he continued thinking about her every once in a while and had an emotional reaction to that so I felt that something had to happen to end that. But instead she helped him from the wings, which continued this link between them, but was never really resolved, I felt.

Lastly, as I neared the ending of the book, I kept expecting the final "declaration" between Renard and Eleanor to happen, but instead the ending focused more on the political situation of the period than Renard and Eleanor and therefore I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the historical parts of a book are important and interesting to me, but I kept feeling strung along and waiting for this final resolution and understanding between them that never came. I know this won't bother everyone like it did me - some people will probably be satisfied that things played out between them enough to show how they felt about each other - but I like things to be a little more definitive. ( )
  emmytuck | Sep 27, 2013 |
The Leopard Unleashed by Elizabeth Chadwick concludes her Wild Hunt trilogy, and does so in great style. I have enjoyed all three of these book that follow the political and personal lives of the family that dwell at Ravenstow in the Western Marches of England. Always on constant alert for Welsh raids, these times are particularly turbulent with two strong contenders for the throne, Stephen and Matilda. Long standing rivals can be allies one day and bitter enemies the next.

This story revolves around Renard who at the opening of the book is a crusader in Antioch but has been summoned home to attend his ailing father. As heir to Ravenstow, he is returning home to take up the responsibility of managing this huge parcel of property, but he is also returning home to an arranged marriage to Elene, a childhood companion. Unable to pull himself away, he arrives home with a exotic mistress in tow. With two women, and a powerful neighbour who coverts his lands, Renard must learn to step carefully both at home, and in the political circles he must travel in.

The author gives rich and thorough historic details that are well researched and authentic. Her characters spring to life in this involving and exciting story. Elizabeth Chadwick is one of my favorite authors and The Leopard Unleashed continues to enhance her reputation as one of the best novelists of the historic genre. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Dec 21, 2012 |
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Renard, Lord of the Ravenstow estate and Crusader knight returns from Antioch, but he does not return alone. He brings with him a mistress. Renard has returned home because of his father's ill health and imminent death. Also there is tension locally caused by the dispute over the succession to England's throne.… (more)

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