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The Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion (William Marshal Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Chadwick
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (360 customer reviews)

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Historical Fiction
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Book Description

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller!

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.


The Greatness of William Marshal: The descendants of the Greatest Knight himself include George Washington and Winston Churchill, as well as the Stuart kings of England and Scotland. He was partly responsible for the Magna Carta. He vowed his body to the Templars and is buried in Temple Church in London.

The Appeal of the Time Period: There are very few novels about Marshal, and no one has covered him as in depth as Elizabeth Chadwick has. In addition, unlike the Tudor era, there are not extensive amounts of historical fiction set in the 13th century.

The Integrity of the Research: Elizabeth Chadwick's research is impeccable. She not only visited many locations, but she re-enacted with a living history society where a quarter of the membership are either historians or archaeologists, and she collected and used replica artifacts from the period and engaged in experimental archaeology. She has taken courses in various medieval studies to facilitate her knowledge.

The Breadth of the Audience: Readers who are fans of Sharon Kay Penman, Anya Seton, Diana Gabaldon, Phillipa Gregory, and Jean Plaidy will like Elizabeth Chadwick. She appeals to readers who are looking for historical accuracy and strong, believable characters, readers who want to feel that they are being immersed in the period with well-rounded characters.


Chadwick's novel immerses readers in Marshal's life and times, which should prove intriguing to any fan of historical fiction. The royals, and especially Eleanor, are particularly fascinating characters whom Chadwick employs to great effect.
Publishers Weekly

"The best writer of medieval fiction currently around." — Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society

"The reader is well aware on every page that this is life as it was lived eight hundred years ago, yet the characters are a fresh and natural as if they were living in the present time..." —The Historical Novels Review

"There's no better writer of medieval fiction than the marvelous Elizabeth Chadwick." —Lancashire Evening Post

"Elizabeth Chadwick is a gifted novelist and a dedicated researcher; it doesn't get any better than that."— Sharon Kay Penman, bestselling author of Devil's Brood

Books In This Series (4 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews

    From Publishers Weekly

    William Marshal, the younger son of a wealthy family, shows early prowess with a sword and uncommon chivalry, which he puts to good use saving the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Afterward, she makes him arms tutor to her sons, the young princes. Marshal pledges his service to heir Henry and stays with the prince, out of loyalty to Eleanor, throughout Henry's turbulent manhood and rebellion against his father. When Henry dies, Marshal swears loyalty to Henry's brother Richard, putting him at odds with his own brother, who is loyal to Prince John. When Richard leaves on crusade and John conspires to take the crown, Marshal must decide between family and honor. A true historical hero, if little known, William Marshal served under some of England's most famous kings and proved himself again and again throughout the troubled 12th century; Chadwick's novel immerses readers in Marshal's life and times, which should prove intriguing to any fan of historical fiction. The royals, and especially Eleanor, are particularly fascinating characters whom Chadwick employs to great effect. (Sept.)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    "The Greatest Knight is a must-read for any lover of history and/or the medieval period. Ms. Chadwick's account drags you right in and sets you down on the dusty, dirt roads alongside her hero and his entourage." - The Long and Short of It Reviews

    "THE GREATEST KNIGHT was amazing... This book seemed to have a little bit of everything -- suspense, deceit, love, wars, scandals." - Booking Mama

    " I want to hand it to Elizabeth Chadwick... I found The Greatest Knight a rewarding read" - All About Romance

    "This is an impeccably written historical fiction novel. The amount of research Chadwick must have put into it is incredible. " - S. Krishna's Books

    "[V]ivid and interesting... " - Historical Tapestry

    "The author clearly knows her subject matter and stayed true to it. Her skilled use of historical detail helped bring the world alive in my imagination without slowing the pace." - Genre Reviews

    "The Greatest Knight is absolutely packed with the senses. Chadwick also is skilled at writing just the perfect amount of description and interspersing it with dialogue" - Bookfoolery and Babble

    "What makes The Greatest Knight exceptional is the consistently pitch-perfect way in which its medieval characters think, feel and behave." -

    "I really enjoyed reading the story of a man who tends to be a secondary character but absolutely deserves to have his story told... Everyone who has raved about Elizabeth Chadwick as an author of historical novels is right. " - Devourer of Books

    "The Greatest Knight provides the kind of "real life" storytelling of times past for which all historical novels should strive. " - ForeWord

    "Chadwick has done an amazing job of portraying the life of William Marshal." - Review From Here

    "Fans of Jean Plaidy, Phillipa Gregory, Sharon Kay Penman will enjoy Elizabeth Chadwick's books. Her historical facts are well researched and her writing draws you into the story. Once you start reading you can't put it down." - Hollywood Today

    "Luckily for all of us, we have an author like Elizabeth Chadwick to raise [William Marshall] back up out of obscurity and give him a dignified place of honor in history!" - Booklust

    Product Details

    • File Size: 2864 KB
    • Print Length: 562 pages
    • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B003M69P96
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,619 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    288 of 291 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest man you never heard of August 8, 2006
    If you're a medieval buff - and especially if you've read up on early Plantagenet history - you know William Marshal. But if you haven't, you should know what you've missed. And there's no better way to start learning than with this book.

    I'm a Plantagenet enthusiast, and a tremendous Marshal fan. Since THE GREATEST KNIGHT has yet to be released here, I splurged several months ago on transatlantic shipping and bought it from the UK. I'm so very, very glad I did. Elizabeth Chadwick, an author I've long admired for her way with a medieval tale, has gone herself one better. She has taken the known facts of Marshal's life, done a little reading between the lines of recorded history, and rendered a portrait of the man that shimmers with life.

    William Marshal led a charmed life to some extent. His first appearance in the historical record is when he is about 5 years old. His father has given him as a hostage to King Stephen, as a sort of human insurance policy against the elder Marshal's disobeying the king. But when William's father defies the king anyway, Stephen hasn't the heart to hang the boy. A few years later, William finds himself in the right place at the right time to save the queen of England from being taken prisoner by enemies. He's injured and taken prisoner himself in the process, however, and when Queen Eleanor ransoms him, it's not without expectations of repayment: She wants the gallant young knight to enter service with her family - arguably the most powerful people in western Europe.

    Thus begins a long and profitable - but also perilous - association. The Queen, her sons, and even her estranged husband, King Henry, value William highly as a fighter, an adviser, and an instructor in the chivalrous arts.
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    53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Historical Fiction at its Finest! July 3, 2006
    Elizabeth Chadwick has done it again! With The Greatest Knight, she has solidified her position as one of the best historical fiction authors writing today. I was eagerly awaiting this novel, and I'm delighted to say I was not disappointed in any way.

    This is the story of William Marshal, an humble knight in the 12th century, who through his integrity and loyalty, rose to become one of the most trusted men of his time. Set against the backdrop of the turbulent relationships between Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and their sons, Marshal's story takes us on a brilliant ride of jousting tourneys, court intrigue, and yes, even romance. The fact that this novel is based on Chadwick's impeccable research makes it all the more stunning and entirely believable. The motivations for the characters are real and unembellished; Marshal is seen as a flesh-and-blood man who must make difficult choices in trying to follow his conscience. Chadwick fills in the blanks of his life with details that make his story come alive. His romance with Isabelle, an heiress twenty years his junior, is sweet and compelling; it's a match with many contemporary overtones even though it's completely true. Chadwick makes us understand William's conflicts and his triumphs. While there is a romance, this is truly historical fiction and it is absolutely wonderful---a story you can lose yourself in and emerge from with a sigh of regret at leaving this world behind. Part two is highly anticipated!

    Highly, highly recommended!
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    45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting History November 7, 2008
    Elizabeth Chadwick's 'The Greatest Knight' chronicles the life of William Marshall, the Medieval soldier and statesman who was described as "the greatest knight that ever lived".

    Chadwick takes us from Marshall's boyhood through his service to three kings; King Henry II, Henry the Young King and King Richard. Marshall is loyal and true to those he pledges his fealty even in the face of near certain peril.

    I found the history interesting but Chadwick failed to bring these characters to life for me. I admired William Marshall but I felt like he was somewhat flat and one dimensional, he was always good and true and nearly perfect. I enjoyed the characterization of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her faithful friendship with Marshall. Chadwick portrays Marshall best engaged in relationships with the women in his life. The beginning of this story seems rather dull until he meets his wife (which isn't until page 328). But she too seemed just a little too perfect to be real.

    I thought Marshall's brother John was the more interesting character. He had flaws, shortcomings and regrets, which made him much more realistic. I also thought their relationship was interesting and could have been examined more closely and threaded throughout the story to give it greater tension.
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    27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant & Moving July 3, 2006
    THE GREATEST KNIGHT is without question Elizabeth Chadwick's finest novel. What is most noticeable about Chadwick's latest is the subtle escalation of her writing talents which are only enhanced by her usual flair for meticulous research and that escalation can be felt in the story's atmosphere and dialogue.

    Marshal was a common man who rose beyond his station, a man who defines the word, 'knight'. Teeming alongside the landscape of the spirited Eleanor & Henry II and their delicously diverse but in no way one dimensional sons, the historical William Marshal was a complex, captivating individual and he loses none of these qualities in the capable Chadwick's hands.

    The action is fully-fleshed out, the relationship and persona of his wife Isobel de Clare brings a sensation of genuineness and sincerity. I thoroughly enjoyed the blossoming of this relationship, from strangers, to friendship, to lovers.

    Yet, scandals, intrigue, deceit, and a masterful game of chess where people's lives are at stake are marvelously handled with precision, care and the perfectly chosen words.

    I eagerly look forward to the next installment in Marshal's adventures.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and pulls you into the guts of the story
    Elizabeth Chadwick pulls you into the medieval times with her narrative I could fall in love with this guy. Read more
    Published 1 day ago by K. W. Behrhorst
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great story.
    I could hardly put this book down. Great story, character development, and attention to detail. Buying the next book now!
    Published 3 days ago by Tami Rable
    5.0 out of 5 stars Page-turner!
    I long to get home to continue this story! This is a captivating read.
    Published 14 days ago by SPARKS
    5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Knight - The unsung story of the queen's champion
    I have just written a review about the second book and realized I wrote the wrong title to it, it was the Scarlet Lion, but I will write the very same review here:A book about my... Read more
    Published 23 days ago by Birgitta May
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Really enjoyed the book.
    Published 1 month ago by David Taylor
    5.0 out of 5 stars again I loved this book
    again I loved this book, you gotta love the Marshal. He was a man who just defined what a knight should be
    Published 1 month ago by A greer
    4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read
    Very good read.
    Published 1 month ago by Gat
    4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
    This was a very good book and I hated to see it end
    Published 1 month ago by Brenda Shields
    5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, courteous
    Events of story happened 1000 years ago, but author sticks to known historical facts in writing narrative. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Michael LaForest
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    i love these books
    Published 1 month ago by ginny
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    More About the Author

    Elizabeth Chadwick is a best selling, award winning author of historical fiction. A born storyteller, her first novel The Wild Hunt won a Betty Trask Award in 1990. She has been four times shortlisted for the RNA Award in the UK for the best mainstream romantic novel. Her book The Scarlet Lion was selected as one of the top ten works of historical fiction of the decade by Richard Lee, founder of The Historical Novel Society.

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