- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
- Release Date: (September 1, 2009)
- Series: William Marshal (Book 1)
- Source: Bought
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.
If you're a history junkie, like me, then Elizabeth Chadwick's novels were made for you. Yeah, I just said that.
Though it may seem strange to some readers, I've been a fan of historical fiction novels for a few years now, but have never popped open an Elizabeth Chadwick novel. I guess in the adult HF community that makes me a little crazy. So, to see what all the hype was about, I finally grabbed one of Chadwick's best known novels, The Greatest Knight. The Greatest Knight began her popular William Marshal saga, which still continues today. From the opening scene, I was hooked. Chadwick effortlessly weaves a fascinating tale of history and legend with strong prose and a well-researched world that makes it a completely worthwhile read.
The Greatest Knight takes place in 12th-century England, around the time of the infamous reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine. From a young age, William has been dedicated to protecting and promoted the king's interests, whether it be through diplomacy or, more frequently, war. William willingly puts his blade out for the crown, and is rewarded for it with the hand of a lovely young heiress in marriage, which elevates his standing. Set in a backdrop of a dramatic, war-torn England, The Greatest Knight follows the action-packed adventures of a knight you've never heard of.
The biggest thing that shine through is Chadwick's unrelenting attention to historical accuracy and detail. Though at times this made it feel like I was reading a history textbook instead of a novel, it was easy to overlook because of the pure skill that was used here. Though some may find Chadwick's writing to be difficult to dive into, it's written in a way that's more indicative of the period, which is a really enjoyable approach for history lovers and makes the characters and plot leap off the page just that much more.
Okay, at this point I'm hooked. It's time to check out the rest of the "William Marshal" books and see what other amazing adventures Chadwick can take me on.