William Marshal was a man totally unknown to me. Then, when reading the lives of Henry II, Richard Coeur de Lion, Philip Augustus, Saladin, Eleanor of Aquitaine and others of that time, I found a unique common link among them all: William Marshal. Intrigued, I ordered Georges Duby's book WILLIAM MARSHAL. Rarely has a first chapter enthralled me to the extent of the one in this book, a first chapter that describes a mundane scene, one in which Marshal dispenses his worldly goods to the 5 sons he would soon leave behind, a wonderful first chapter poetic in its telling, warm-hearted and as visual as though it were a movie unfolding before my eyes.
The 2nd chapter tells us how the story of Marshal would have been lost to time had not his son paid for his life story to be written on velum in verses.
In chapter 3 Marshal, only age 28, knights King Henry III. Here we learn about achieving Knighthood, a quest as stringent -- and infinitely more dangerous - than becoming first dan in karate. The ceremony is moving and of infinite importance in attaining manhood.
Although many scenes were beautifully described, as I have indicated, Duby has just slavishly contented himself with resuming the velum manuscript. He has briefly and totally inadequately given an overview of major and great event. Through lack of ambition Duby has deprived himself of making a veritable contribution to history and to literature, thusly deserving hardly better than 2 stars out of 5. (I would be deeply grateful if a reader could put me on the track of a comprehensive book about this extraordinary knight, William the Marshal.) My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.