by Melanie Dickerson
“A whole company of soldiers galloped into view, emerging from the tree-crowded lane. Edwin narrowed his eyes and stood with his shoulders tensed…
‘We are here by the authority of Richard of Bordeaux, King of England, to arrest the seven sonse of the recently deceased Earl of Derricott for treason against the king and against England.’
Before he had finished speaking, the soldiers seized Edwin and began tying his wrists together in front of him.”
Ratings & Reviews
Book Grade: B+
Court of Swans does a lovely job of focusing on a strong, determined heroine who is willing to sacrifice personally in order to defend her innocent brothers. Delia is immediately likeable for this, and for her other selfless actions during her entire stay at the Tower of London. The plot is unique and ideal for historical fiction fans who love reading about eras that are less frequently covered in novels.
The novel, however, has a lot of anachronisms – it is unlikely that Delia (as a female in the 1300s) would have been literate. It is also unlikely that she would have had enough exposure to the Bible to have memorized entire passages and even less realistic that her servant at home would have been able to do so. It is true to history that unwed women who had no monetary prospects were expected to take up residence at a convent and take their vows, and the fact that traitorous actions were taken to secure property and titles rings true. I think that readers who may be willing to take the historical inaccuracies with a grain of salt will find the story line of this novel to be intriguing and original. Readers, however, who are looking for a historical fiction book heavy on fact (and light on predictability) will struggle with Court of Swans.
Movie Rating: PG
Court of Swans is a sweet historical romance novel; while there may not be scandalous scenes, swearing, or graphic violence, this book does bring up some issues that may require maturity. There is a scene where Delia has to deal with one of the characters attempting to assault her. There is another scene involving a sword fight and there are hints of violence. Additionally, it might take a reader with a clear understanding of history, gender roles, and English culture in order to fully appreciate the challenges.
Would I Buy This for My Library: Probably
Court of Swans is a clever and sweet book. I have some students who are undeniably drawn toward Christian or moral romance novels, and this fits the bill. There are some historical inaccuracies and the plot is fairly predictable, but overall it is a good book. I don’t predict that this will be one that flies off the shelves, but for the right kid, this will be a win! That being said, if you know your student population and know the types of readers you have, you can make a decision whether this would be a good fit.
Set in the late 1300s in England, Court of Swans is not your ordinary historical fiction story. It blends royalty, romance, courage, and faith into a story that is lovely and enjoyable. Delia, the only daughter of the Earl of Derricott, is horrified when shortly after the unexpected death of her father, all seven of her brothers are arrested for treason. Fully aware that her awful step-mother likely is behind the false accusations, and recognizing her limited power as a female, she sets off toward London to formulate a plan to free her brothers and let the truth be known.
With the help of her aunt, a nun in a nearby convent, and a new role as a royal seamstress, Delia is off to the Tower of London where she hopes to get close enough to her brothers to help them escape. Two guards quickly befriend her, but after different interactions, she is not sure who she can trust.
Blending history, narrative detail, and likeable characters, Court of Swans is a gentle romance with lots of action and a sprinkling of faith lessons scattered throughout. While this won’t be a must-read for everyone, as someone who is reluctant to dive into romance, I found it engaging and cleverly written, albeit predictable.
Book Talk Questions:
- Describe Delia’s step-mother. Why can’t Delia confront her after the arrest of her brothers?
- How does Delia’s aunt offer to help her? What does she fear for Delia?
- Describe the prison conditions for all of the Derricott brothers. What does Delia request from one of the guards in order to help her brothers? How are the two guards different and how do they treat Delia differently?
- Delia relies a lot on the “holy writ.” Is it realistic that she would have had intimate knowledge of the Bible? Explain given the historical context and gender roles during the era.
- Describe the escape attempt. What is the plan? Does it work? What unexpected events are encountered?
- What questions remain at the end of the book? Did you find the resolution predictable? Explain.
A Perfect Read for Fans Of…
- The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
- Castle of Refuge by Melanie Dickerson
- Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawkins