Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
A very interesting tale, well told
on 25 July 2014
I have read many reviews about this book particularly by readers who mistakenly thought this was a work of fiction (!) or felt the prose was too academic or that there were too many statistics. These did not deter me however and I am glad that I purchased this title.
I like many others have a very imperfect understanding about the origins or Magna Carta, King John and the Barons' Revolt, and this title seemed like a modern take on the events leading up to that significant event as seen through the eyes of one of the major, if little known, protagonists, William the Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. This person first came to my notice in Ridley Scott's 2010 take on the legend of Robin Hood. In this film, the Marshall is ably plaid by William Hurt but very little is known about his exciting earlier life as a Knight Errant, a jousting champion and a winner on the international tournament scene.
Brooks' biography does a sterling job in bringing this man to life by detailing the context and events of the time when the Marshall lived. This work does tend to rely quite heavily on the "History" and other contemporary sources but as the author makes clear on numerous occasions, very little of the Marshall's life has come down to us. I found the author's evaluation of sources to be balanced, and his interpretation and analysis of characters and events to be lively. Brooks is also critical of previous modern day interpretations and outlines his proofs in a logical fashion. I found the prose easy to follow and yes there are a lot of statistics than most would find in a coffee table work of history but I found that rather than detracting from the story, the tables of data actually enhances the understanding of the Marshall and helped to bring him to life. I managed to digest this book in less than three days which is a testament to the fast flowing way in which Brooks has penned this much needed biography. This tale of an unsung Medieval hero is long overdue and to be highly recommended.