The Greatest Knight

The Greatest Knight A Medieval Historical Novel About William Marshal, Probably The Greatest Knight Of The Middle Ages This Is The Story Of How He Rose Through The Dangerous World Of Angevin Politics To Become One Of The Most Powerful Magnates Of The Realm And Eventually Regent Of England

Best selling historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick won a Betty Trask Award for her first novel The Wild Hunt She has been shortlisted for the UK s mainstream Best Romantic Novel of the Year Award 4 times and longlisted twice Her novel The Scarlet Lion about the great William Marshal and his wife Isabelle de Clare, has been selected by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society as one

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  • Paperback
  • 552 pages
  • The Greatest Knight
  • Elizabeth Chadwick
  • English
  • 01 June 2018
  • 9780751536607

10 thoughts on “The Greatest Knight

  1. says:

    Fight for your lord, fight for his honour, but never forget that you were fighting for yourself too The Greatest Knight is one of the best historical fiction books I ve ever read After reading about Eleanor of Aquitaine in the recent Elizabeth Chadwick s The Summer Queen, I felt like going back not only to revisit the older Eleanor, but also to meet such a perfect hero.We get to know William Marshall, a figure that could be envisioned as the ideal medieval knight Chadwick tells the story of a hero, that using chance and opportunity, rose from a penniless and landless second son to serve four kings King Henry II, Henry the Young King, Richard the Lionheart and the infamous King John.Perhaps Marshall s job could have been easier if he had served less conflicted and disagreeable masters than were Henry II and Eleanor s offspring We travel from England to France and back, crusade to Jerusalem and travel through tourney fields, but especially we meet a figure that was above all loyal to those he pledged his fealty, even in the face of near certain peril Those characterists might have assured, having lived in a dangerous world of politics, that he would become one of the most powerful in the realm and eventually regent of England Chadwick writes extremely well, with the right amount of drama, glamour and tragedy Her account of a meeting of Marshall with Queen Eleanor, while visitng her at Winchester, illustrates how the author is able to make us feel all the nuances of such a moment while they talk about marriage, love and trust I hope to make a good match, madam I may not look like a bargain at the moment, but rest and polish will rectify some of the damage Eleanor expression softened I do believe you are smitten She teased.William chuckled That would not be difficult, madam The girl is eighteen years old and beautiful What will she think of a grizzled old warhorse like me is another matter Eleanor laughed Either you are shamelessly angling for praise or you not see yourself as women do She reached a beringed hand to touch the sides of the face You wear years than I first took you into my service, but you were still a boy then, and time has wrought experience, not lines Isabelle de Clare will have no cause to complain of this match I trust you still have your singing voice Eleanor enquired.He gave her a puzzled look I do not know, madam It has been so long since there has been anything to sing about, and I have been too busy If you are to take a bride, I suggest you find it again Eleanor s smile wavered Neither of my husbands could sing Who knows what might have been different if either of them had bothered to learn She let out a shaky breath and looked down at her hands You may find it strange, she said, but even after what has happened, I mourn for Henry There was a time when it was very sweet between us Even all the bitterness that came afterwards cannot alter those memories And he gave me children He said that they were all mine except for John, but he was wrong Even John belongs to me He didn t trust me Every minute of every day I was watched, if not by his guards then by his spies She sighed and made a weary gesture William, if you are going to love your wife, and have her love you, then take some advice from one who has lived with it and without it and knows its price and value Madam Isabelle de Clare is an heiress Remember that the lands you rule are hers and that she might desire to have a say in what you do with them Take her with you when you can and your deputy when you cannot, and never give her cause to resent you, because she will have the raise of your sons and daughters I will do my best, he said You may think me an interfering old woman, but I have your interest at heart since I took you into my service After that little glimpse into the book, you might understand why I could not give it less than 5 solid stars I highly recommend not only the Greatest Knight, but the whole magnificent William Marshall s Saga.

  2. says:

    I am not usually into medieval fiction, or historical fiction much at all, but this was really good That is one thing I love about GoodReads I find new and wonderful books that I would never have picked for myself This story is based on the life of a forgotten hero, William Marshal, the knight selected by Eleanor of Acquitaine to train her sons in horsemanship and chivalry While Eleanor s sons might not have turned out that great, it wasn t any fault of William Marshal s He was amazing Most of the story is based on fact with some of the gray areas filled in by the author There was not much information on his Crusade to Jerusalem, except for the fact that he carried Henry the Young King s cloak to pay hommage and make amends after the robbing of a monastery to provide money for Henry s battle with his father His marriage to Isabelle de Clare and their subsequent involvement in King Richard s battle with his brother John is all well documented Throughout the story, William s integrity, loyalty and stolid support for the Plantagenet family keeps him busy going from one battle to the next When he decides to marry and start a family, his life is still dictated by the whim of the court and who will get him to support them in their quest for the title of King of England.There is a second book about William Marshal called The Scarlet Lion which follows William and Isabelle after they leave England for Ireland I will be reading that too, and probably looking for from Elizabeth Chadwick.

  3. says:

    I started this in the evening and never stopped reading Chadwick s writing is like a history peep show and I love it Ok, so William Marshal is larger than life, basically a saint and annoyingly ethical in a sea of scumbags, but I still love him I seem to have a thing for these men in history that are nice guys but still can kick your ass

  4. says:

    Note I am re posting this review I did last year in honor of William Marshal, who celebrated his 797th death anniversary last May 14th I remembered just now, sorry He was my first ever medieval crush, many thanks to this book The Greatest Knight is also one of my first historical fiction reads, and I super enjoyed this tour to the olden times that I never stopped reading anything under this genre since then Before this read, I have never heard of William Marshal, a 12th century personality I have not known about the life and exploits of the greatest knight that ever lived I admit not being well versed about feudal Europe, courtly knights or monarchical politics my knowledge about the Middle Ages is usually limited on fictional books set in that period and medieval themed films or TV shows that boast of elaborate costume display and scenic country landscapes, and I know that they don t always count as credible sources of information.So, hearing about William Marshal through this book albeit in the same fictional fashion has given me an introduction to his remarkable life story and how from being landless which I learned is a younger son s usual fate in his time he became one of the richest and most powerful men in their kingdom His autobiography could rival that of our modern day telenovelas a young crown hostage and penniless nobleman who eventually grew up to be an indisputable tourney champion, skilled courtier, honorable knight, loyal crown aide, and brilliant military strategist Historical accounts also noted that his marriage to wealthy heiress Isabelle de Clare appeared to have been a happy one, and that he treated his wife as his helpmate and equal Not the usual perspective of men in his time, which made William Marshal even agreeable for me Then, there is Elizabeth Chadwick s capable writing style She has given me a historical excursion with her descriptive narrative of events in William Marshal s time It felt like I was exactly there in medieval Europe either as a silent spectator in tourney jousts or a peasant looking impressed as brave knights paraded in the street I may have probably said a line or two to the great William Marshal, or even served him wine or ale As a reader, I enjoy this feeling of immersion the book being so compelling it was like seeing William Marshal in the flesh, hearing his actual voice or knowing what stirs his passion As a history aficionado, I admire the author s vivid portrayal of historical events and places, and even the mundane lives of both the nobility and ordinary people.With Chadwick s ability to transport me back to the past, who needs standing stones or time machines Okay, so maybe I might need those standing stones for Outlander s Jamie Fraser after all, but this is another story I truly enjoyed this read despite the drama, feudalism and too much politics in William Marshal s time It is nice to read people from ages past come back to life in contemporary print, and I think Elizabeth Chadwick excels in exploiting this field I have never read a lot of historical fiction materials or known a lot of writers under this genre, but ever since my first Chadwick read Shadows and Strongholds I already knew that I would see of her.

  5. says:

    Wooo, mate This was a mouthful of a book but a mouthful so enjoyable it is almost sad when its all done I absolutely loved this historical novel William Marshal is a top class mate, and it was great to see him expanded upon, for during the occasions where he appears in the books I have read so far on his era, Marshal was always a background prop, never a full scale leading role Chadwick s knowledge about medieval history seems phenomenal and she has a gift for transporting a reader to the middle ages I highly recommend this book to all history lovers

  6. says:

    This book has everything that I might wish for in a 600 page long historic novel A hero who makes his way in the world by using chance and opportunity, an enigmatic Queen, a King who s been the first Plantagenet on the throne and a lot of historical conflict at the core of the narrative What I didn t find however, was a good book which I think is extremely sad because all the requirements for a great read where there The minor thing that bothered me was language Chadwick certainly can write, but her use of metaphors and comparisons drove me up the walls sometimes I ll give her the benefit of the doubt in some parts because I didn t read the original but the German version but still I found myself conciously noticing her figures of speach, which inhibited the flow of my reading alot because I was always thrown out of the narrative into musings about writing Also, she often ends paragraphs with a comparison or a metaphor So often that it is noticable Now you could argue that this is a history novel and meant to entertain instead of being highly literary in writing style Which brings me to my second, much larger problem with the book.The way the story is told and, to an even larger degree, the characters The book spans 26 years, which is fairly normal for a historic novel that wants to depict historical developements However, Chadwick manages to really only portray episodes instead of periods We get glimpses of events That, in itself, would be fine, but somehow, I could find neither drive nor urgency in any of them No matter how significant an event was, it was told in the same, nearly solemn manner In the afterword, Chadwick says that a lot of things, she could only hint at because William Marshall s personal history is so full of events and experiences that it would be impossible to do it justice, the reason she wrote a second book about the second half of his life which I haven t read so I can t say whether this differs from the first one Chadwick succumbs to that one thing that cannot happen in literature that is meant mostly for pure entertainment she tells instead of showing Whenever she moves on for a year or two with her narrative, the reader gets told in the opening paragraph what has happened in the years in between, then a or less significant scene from Williams life is depicted and on we move We do not see him develope, we get told he did.Which brings me to my second major point of criticism The characters I know that Marshall is a historic figure, I know that he suposedly had all the character traits a knight was thought to have, a man right out of song But here s the pitfall I believe she s throughly researched But, as she writes herself in the afterword, much knowledge about him results from a ballade written after his death that has been rediscovered in 1890 Now, a ballade in itself is a literary text, it s a piece of imagination of a single person It s prone to praise of the hero And that s exactly what Chadwick does William Marshall has no depth of character because he is inherently good, noble, humble and all around chivalrous He does no wrong The only perceived wrong he does, that he is able to find fault in himself for, is the fact that he wasn t with his Lord when he died and that he followed his orders and ransacked churches under Henrys command For 26 years of life, this is an impressively small list of sins for a soldier who had a mistress who, conviniently is infertile so she won t give him any bastards , was said to have an affair with Margaret, wife of Henry, and who fought in dozens of tournaments that usually weren t exactly havens of good behaviour Chadwick managed to avoid every possible conflict Marshall could have had If the documents didn t serve her with one, she could well have invented one But she decided to stick to the sources she had, and if I have learned one thing during my history studies it s that what is important about a historical source is what it doesn t tell you The blank spots The hints at something they don t want you to know because it would interfer with the version of history that is supposed to be written down Every source we have has been written down to preserve a certain notion about what has happened by a certain group or even single person And for me, Chadwick simply believes in the greatness and goodness of William Marshall described in the ballade that I have, admittedly, never read, so I m doing a bit of guessing here A character that has come such a long way, from a virtual nobody to teacher and trusted companion of the kings son s , someone who comes from the hinterland and moves into palaces, is not believable for me if he isn t at least tempted by this gain of power Similiarly to Marshall, the other characters remain flat because we only get to see them every once in a while and their relationships remain suspiciously devoid of emotion, a fact that for me, mainly results from Marshall s inhuman goodness, so that his relationships to the other characters always remain somewhat a token of what a real relationship would look like So while I really was curious about the book and love the time it depicts, and really wanted to like it, I never really managed to do so It is, however, a quick read and gives you an insight into the turbulent times of Henry II, his famous wife Eleanore of Aquitaine and their quarrelsome sons, thus two stars.

  7. says:

    A nice romance historical fiction about the legendary knight errant who served Eleanor of Aquitaine and her sons, including Richard the Lionheart and the infamous King John I felt immersed in medieval Europe and was always reluctant to put the book down The details on tournament play were particularly interesting.One thing I felt was lacking was an exploration of Marshal s childhood and adolescence, since I was curious about the impact of his father s abandonment The book begins when Marshal is a young man, and we merely get a dream sequence that depicts the incident when Marshal was a hostage at age five King Stephen threatened to hang the boy if his father didn t surrender, and his father famously replied, I still have the hammer and the anvil with which to forge still and better sonsThis story follows Marshal through the death of Henry II and into Richard s reign I ll look forward to the US printing of the next book, which covers the second half of William Marshal s life.

  8. says:

    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 interesting character He had flaws, shortcomings and regrets, which made him much realistic I also thought their relationship was interesting and could have been examined closely and threaded throughout the story to give it greater tension.

  9. says:

    Elizabeth Chadwick really outdid herself with this novel about William Marshal, son of the infamous John Marshal, the man behind the the hammer and anvil speech When William was 6 years old his father pledged him as a hostage to King Stephen during a siege When his father turned sides and broke his word, William s death was a foregone conclusion Fortunately for William, King Stephen had no intention of murdering a child and he was spared Marshal is penniless and with no land to call his own when he enters the service of King Henry II He is desperate to earn his rank among the others in King Henry s retinue to be than just the son of John Marshal Brilliant in the tourney field and loyal to a fault, he quickly wins the attention of Eleanor of Aquitaine After William gallantly saves her life, she asks him to join her son s household to train and teach the heir to the throne of England Perhaps William s job would ve been a bit easier had he served another family they didn t call Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine s children the Devil s Brood for nothing William is the very definition of chivalry and if you re like me, you ll fall completely in love with him I first met William in Sharon Kay Penman s Devil s Brood and was intrigued I was dying to know about him and see experiences through his eyes Well, Chadwick has scratched my itch so to speak and I LOVED EVERY PAGE There s a little bit for everyone in this novel fighting, loving, hating, betrayal, loyalty it s all there But wait There s The Greatest Knight has a sequel YEAH, William It s called The Scarlet Lion and will be released in the US on March 1, 2010 I, for one will be waiting at the doors of my local bookstore that day Rating 5 5

  10. says:

    Chadwick just keeps getting better and better This was a wonderful story and much different from Chadwick s previous books, but is to be somewhat expected as Marshal s early life was one of duty to his lord s and not leaving much room for romance A fascinating look at a true, honorable and loyal man, who in the end was well rewarded for his loyalty by marriage to a wealthy heiress who became his life s soul mate Much of the book is involved with the treachery and intrigue of the Plantagenet court and their lives you won t see as much heart stopping page turning excitement as you might have found some of the author s previous works, but still excellent reading just the same It was also wonderful getting a closer look at those Plantagenets, Henry II, young Henry, Eleanor, Richard I and the always evil Prince John It s going to be even harder now to wait for Sharon Kay Penman s third novel in her own trilogy of this family, The Devil s Brood If you enjoy this book, do check out the sequel, The Scarlet Lion and the newly released prequel, A Place Beyond Courage special order from the UK, not available in the US As always with Chadwick s books, the way she brings the medieval period to life in such a graceful and effortless way, be it the sights, sounds, smells, food, clothes and battles is just awesome As quoted on some of her book jackets, the next best thing to time travel Five stars.

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