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The Greatest Knight (Paperback) Paperback – Import, 2006
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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.)
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"Elizabeth Chadwick knows exactly how to write convincing compelling history." -- Marina Oliver
Top customer reviews
William Marshall was the 4th son of a minor noble family during the wars between Stephen & Matilda for the rule of England. He was given to Stephen as a hostage as a very young boy, and then was betrayed by his father who reneged on his pledges to Stephen and said that if his hostage son was killed he could still make other sons. Despite an unloving family, and being a very junior squire in the household where he was placed, over time William became the best known (and very arguably the best and most skilled) knight in all of the lands of the Plantagenet monarchy.
The story of how he became what he was, and his battles and successes, both in war and in politics, is made into a truly wonderful historical novel here. If you like historical biography, you will love this book..
Marshal tells the tale of this real historical figure in an historical fiction. Marshal was a self-made man, learning his craft, becoming a knight, coming to earn his keep by winning tourneys (jousting) and extracting ransoms from those whom he triumphed over. A man of honor, who kept his word and was faithful to his vows of loyalty.
He serves Henry II, his son, "The Young King," Richard I and John. And it was not always easy working with these kings (John's place in his life is more richly depicted in the second volume--but even in this work, the difficulties of their relationship is well described).
His romance with an heiress from Ireland, Isabelle, is charming. Their growing affection for one another is poignant, as is his willingness to see her as his partner--not as "just" a woman.
All in all, a very nice piece of historical fiction.