Monday, October 11, 2010

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

Royal protector. Loyal servant. Forgotten hero.

A penniless young knight with few prospects, William Marshal is plucked from obscurity when he saves the life of Henry II's formidable queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In gratitude, she appoints him tutor to the heir to the throne, the volatile and fickle Prince Henry. But being a royal favorite brings its share of danger and jealousy as well as fame and reward.

A writer of uncommon historical integrity and accuracy, Elizabeth Chadwick resurrects the true story of one of England's greatest forgotten heroes in a captivating blend of fact and fiction. The Greatest Knight restores William Marshal to his rightful place at the pinnacle of the Middle Ages, reflecting through him the triumphs, scandals, and power struggles that haven't changed in eight hundred years.

Let me set the stage for you. I blog here with four other bloggers. Or, should I say they blog and I pop in from time to time? One thing I know about them for sure, though, is that 3 of them love Elizabeth Chadwick. Teddy is like me and hadn't read Elizabeth Chadwick until recently. I have known Marg for years and she has been telling me that I should read Elizabeth Chadwick. Then, between her, Ana, and Alex there have been wonderful reviews of her books. With a gift card I received for Christmas last year I finally bought this book and then it took me almost a year to actually get around to reading it! I am so glad that I did, though. I had started it earlier in the year, but I couldn't get into. This time I sat down with it and the pages just flew by. Chadwick has a wonderful way with words, characters, and setting. She really made everything come alive.

This is a novel about William Marshal. He is a hero in Henry II's court. He serves the entire family before his term is over in some way and has connections to many of the great events that happen during the time period. The thing I really liked about the book was that while there was a lot of character building, there was also a lot of action. I like reading about battles and victories to keep the book flowing. If an author gets bogged down in what I consider trivial things I get a bit bored. Now once in this book, though, did I find myself bored. I kept wanting to know what was going to happen to William next. By the end of the book you will feel like you really know him. Chadwick has a real talent for throwing in little facts and tidbits. They don't take away from the story, but add to it.

I was also really interested in Chadwick's portrayal of the royal family. She actually made all of them a bit more human, so even if you hated them in the past you could almost sympathize with their actions. Eleanor has always intrigued me and I thought she really became human in this book. Yes, she was still interested in power and not in the midst of a great relationship, but there were those little moments where you could forget she was one of the great leaders of England and see her for the regular person she was. It was the same with her children. Henry interested me, too, because the more recent portrayal of him that I had seen was in Ariana Franklin's series. There were some similarities, but there were also moments where I felt I was reading about an entirely different person.

I just loved this book. It will be on my best of list for the end of the year for sure. I really feel this review is not doing the book justice at all, but I did love it! That's really all you have to know, right? Also, thank you to Marg, Ana, and Alex for bragging this author up every chance you got and finally lead me to take the plunge and read her. I appreciate it!


  1. Careful, she's habit forming :)

  2. Yay! About time!

    So glad that you loved this book! Some times when there has been a lot of pressure or hype that books don't live up to it!

    Are you going to read more now?

  3. I am so glad I loved this book! I have all ready started the sequel, but put it aside for a couple library books. I hope to finish it soon, though!