If you enjoyed the feats of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, you will enjoy Dina L. Sleiman’s novel Dauntless. As the debut novel for her new Valiant Hearts series, Sleiman introduces us to the former Lady Merry Ellison, daughter of the man who dared to rebel against the loathsome King John.
Disguised as plain Merry, young Lady Ellison finds herself the leader of a band of children, all of them homeless and unprotected. With shrewdness and skill, Merry teaches her youthful band to survive and hide. Enter Timothy Grey and trouble. Grey is Merry’s former sweetheart and now favorite of King John’s local regent. With a story full of intrigue, hard decisions, and courage, Merry must find her way to protect the people who matter most to her.
I enjoyed the fast-paced action in Dauntless, and the strong characters who struggle to find their way. Sleiman is an excellent writer, and draws deftly upon eleventh century English history without belaboring details. I particularly enjoyed how Sleiman uses child characters in her story. Although I was wary of Timothy Grey through much of the story, I like how Sleiman reveals his struggles amid his unpredictability. Lady Ellison mirrored well the legendary Robin Hood, and I appreciated Sleiman’s clever portrayal of Merry as both strong and vulnerable. For how intense most of the story played out, I found the concluding chapters somewhat of a predictable ending.
Overall, I enjoyed Dauntless and look forward to reading Book Two in Sleiman’s Valiant Hearts series. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman for my candid review.