Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

101 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest man you never heard of, 9 Feb. 2006
This review is from: The Greatest Knight: The Story of William Marshal (Hardcover)
If you're a medieval buff - and especially if you've read up on early Plantagenet history - you know William Marshal. But if you haven't, you should know what you've missed. And there's no better way to start learning than with this book.
I'm an American, a Plantagenet enthusiast, and a tremendous Marshal fan. Since THE GREATEST KNIGHT has yet to be released here, I splurged on transatlantic shipping and bought it from the UK. I'm so very, very glad I did. Elizabeth Chadwick, an author I've long admired for her way with a medieval tale, has gone herself one better. She has taken the known facts of Marshal's life, done a little reading between the lines of recorded history, and rendered a portrait of the man that shimmers with life.
William Marshal led a charmed life to some extent. His first appearance in the historical record is when he is about 5 years old. His father has given him as a hostage to King Stephen, as a sort of human insurance policy against the elder Marshal's disobeying the king. But when William's father defies the king anyway, Stephen hasn't the heart to hang the boy. A few years later, William finds himself in the right place at the right time to save the queen of England from being taken prisoner by enemies. He's injured and taken prisoner himself in the process, however, and when Queen Eleanor ransoms him, it's not without expectations of repayment: She wants the gallant young knight to enter service with her family - arguably the most powerful people in western Europe.
Thus begins a long and profitable - but also perilous - association. The Queen, her sons, and even her estranged husband, King Henry, value William highly as a fighter, an adviser, and an instructor in the chivalrous arts. Such a talented and fortunate man is bound to attract jealousy, though. William's loyalties are put to one complex test after another, and, though his honor remains unblemished, his enemies would have the royals believe otherwise. More than once, William's future looks bleak. But he is never defeated; his intellect, courage and diplomacy make this one story in which the nice guy finishes first.
There's a bit less romance in this book than in Elizabeth Chadwick's other works. But since William didn't marry until he was in his 40s, that is as it should be. Chadwick speculates that William had a mistress in the years prior to his marriage, and, in a footnote to the documented history, she finds a highly likely candidate for the role. But the great love of William's life was Isabelle, countess of Pembroke, whom he married when she was 18 and he was middle aged. We don't know much about the real Isabelle, but the Isabelle of this book is exactly as I would imagine her: beautiful, smart, confident and loyal. Judging by the number of children the couple had, I'd say Chadwick couldn't be too far off the mark in depicting them as very much in love.
As I neared the end of the book, I realized with some disappointment that it was going to end many years before Marshal's death. But that was unavoidable; the man survived to what would be a ripe old age even now, and he did twice as much living as most of us would in the same time span. This book does leave off in a logical and satisfactory point in the story, and the afterword promises a sequel, which I'm eagerly awaiting.
I read THE GREATEST KNIGHT very quickly. I became a little obsessive-compulsive over it, making time to read even when I had other things to do, racing through it breathlessly despite not really wanting to reach the end. When I did finish, I was truly sorry I'd read it so fast. I wish I could give it 6 stars, because I'm now questioning every other 5-star review I've ever written.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details