A Chivalrous Continuation of Dina Sleiman's Valiant Hearts [Review]

Dina Sleiman continues to build a intriguing imagining of medieval Europe in Chivalrous.  Her teenage protagonists navigate among gender roles and societal expectations, trying to find their place while discovering their worth in Christ.
(c.) 2015 Bethany House Publichers
Title: Chivalrous (Valiant Hearts #2)
Author: Dina L. Sleiman
Published: 2015 by Bethany House Publishers

About the Book:
"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."

The Artist Librarian's Review:
Dina Sleiman continues to build a intriguing imagining of medieval Europe in Chivalrous.  Her teenage protagonists navigate among gender roles and societal expectations, trying to find their place while discovering their worth in Christ.  The plot itself is full of action, political intrigue, and a sweet romance that will have Christian YA fans captivated.

I admit, though excited, I was skeptical when I first saw Chivalrous' cover of a maiden bedecked in chainmail and armor.  Especially since Sleiman's Valiant Hearts series are closer to historicals than fantasy.  "Lady knights" aren't historically accurate ... However, I feared over nothing, since the opportunities for Gwen to utilize chainmail and her fighting skills were plausibly believable to me in the context of this novel.

Allen was one of my favorite characters in Dauntless, so I was excited to see him appear in a larger role in Chivalrous.  I must say that I wanted to knock him over the head a couple of times in this novel, but I think his fault of pride is something that those of us with a similar spiritual background as Allen (i.e. knowledgeable or having grown up in the Church) is a danger that is all too real. 

One of the things I enjoy about Sleiman's novels is her egalitarian treatment of her male and female protagonists.  They are often both a mix of strength and vulnerability and both have moments of being leaders or being support, yet their masculinity and femininity are distinct.  For example, both end up facing a similar forced arrangement, which I thought was a neat twist because it normally only occurs to female characters in a romance.  

My only criticism was that for me, a couple of the plot points seemed forced, or only added for a twist/drama or to have certain characters there ... However, I did like that again, Sleiman touches on tough issues that we still face today.  She also provides a realistic, sobering view of medieval family life that isn't always seen in fictionalized accounts. 

The idea of a duchy/dukedom adopting Camelot as inspiration for their government and principles was an intriguing one.  The next novel in this series, Courageous, takes place during a crusade.  The Crusades are probably one of my least favorite events in history, but if Sleiman could pull off a "lady knight" character, I'm sure she can do the same for me with the Crusades.  In any case, I'm definitely looking forward to it!

Have you read any books adapted or inspired by Camelot?  How about films or television shows?  Share your favorites in the comments below!

[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes.]


  1. I think the crusade book actually turned out the best of the three, and it will feature Rosalind and Randel, so that will give you something to look forward to. Lady Knights were incredibly rare, but I did find a few accounts of women being knighted for their bravery in battle, notably in France. England knighted women later in history, but as a title only. Of course, the vikings had plenty of female warriors.

    1. Ooh, thanks for the inside scoop, Dina! I can't wait to read it. =)

      France makes sense, with Joan of Arc and all ...

      Now Vikings, I haven't really seen in Christian fiction. That would be something ... =)

  2. Glad you're enjoying this series! I still need to start it. :)


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