I have been a longtime fan of Philippa Gregory’s way of writing historical fiction – build fiction upon the factual evidence that exists. Several of my friends on Goodreads (Sabrina and Robin especially!!) have consistently told me to check out Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels, as they thought I’d love them. Well….I FINALLY listened to them and read The Greatest Knight, the first in Chadwick’s series about William Marshal.
Although he is a knight, William Marshal doesn’t have much going for him. Without the wealth enjoyed by other knights of the court of Henry II, William’s prospects are limited and he is relatively unknown. However, all of this comes to a halt when William saves the life of Henry’s Queen, Elinor of Aquitaine, by being captured as a prisoner while the Queen makes an escape to safety. In repayment for his heroic action, Queen Elinor pays his ransom and then appoints William as the tutor for the heir of the throne, Prince Henry. This is only the start of William’s journey, as this new responsibility is both a blessing and a curse. As a blessing, William is placed in the spotlight, with more notoriety and social standing to help him ascend the social ladder that is King Henry’s court. As a curse, William is forced to deal with the haughty attitudes of Prince Henry, as well as defend himself from those who would like to see themselves in his place. Will William be able to perform his duties and effectively groom Prince Henry for the throne? Will other members of the court be able to steal William’s position (or possibly even his life) away from him?
The Greatest Knight is one of those novels that after you read it you want to open it right back up to re-read! I’m actually really upset with myself that it took me so long to listen to Sabrina and Robin! Chadwick’s way of weaving fact and fiction is flawless. You have no idea where one starts and the other ends. Chadwick’s depiction of Marshal has made me eager to find more works about him – his story is enthralling. As a child I always found medieval things fascinating: knights, kings, queens, jousts, etc. I’m really pleased to have found an adult outlet to continue my fascination! Chadwick is my new medieval champion! She brings life to a long-lost time in history.
William Marshal’s nobility and loyalty are inspiring! He’s a great character to base an entire series around, as he’s intriguing, mysterious, and might I add incredibly sexy? The novel covers a large period of his life and throughout it all he remains (in my eyes) this young, able-bodied knight that is strong, resilient, and always fighting for something better. His character is brought to life with Chadwick’s vibrant, colorful writing and the amazing settings of the novel. This is definitely a gem of a work that you shouldn’t miss. Read it ASAP!
5 out of 5 Stars
This is my eleventh completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Paperback: 560 pages