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!