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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book Review: The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

Book cover of The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Paperback, 552 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
September 1, 2009

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Personal Collection

“A penniless young knight with few prospects, William Marshal is plucked from obscurity when he saves the life of Henry II's formidable queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In gratitude, she appoints him tutor to the heir to the throne, the volatile and fickle Prince Henry. But being a royal favorite brings its share of danger and jealousy as well as fame and reward "

The Greatest Knight is the first part of a tale about William Marshal. He begins his life as a lowly hearth knight scrabbling his way up the social hierarchy of the medieval period.

When this book first came out, a bunch of my blog friends were reading this book and raving about it, and I felt left out because I didn’t have the book or have any time to read it. Then, when I heard about the sequel coming out, The Scarlet Lion, I knew I had to read this before I could read the sequel.

I really enjoyed reading about the life of a knight during the medieval period. I had not read anything from this time period so the whole world was very new to me. Chadwick did a phenomenal job at describing all the aspects of this world. I gained an entirely new vocabulary as well (like mesnie!). After reading about the Tudor period for so long – it is a very, very different world – which was very refreshing.

The characters were so well rounded and very real. I loved all of the women in his life – Clara, Isabelle, and Eleanor. Each one brings out a different part of William and contributed to the growth and evolution of his person. Without all of them, he wouldn’t be the same person. William is definitely someone you can admire.

The pages just flew by and before I knew it I was finished with 500+ pages. I luckily have The Scarlet Lion on hand to jump right into, and it feels like I am reading one continuous book. The only complaint I have is that almost each chapter jumps at least 2 years. I found it difficult to remember how much time had passed between events and had to keep flipping back to figure out the year. I will need to become a little more familiar with the layout of France (where many of the events take place), I don’t know the map all that well. Other than that, a fantastic introduction to the medieval period and William Marshal.

You can visit Elizabeth Chadwick's website or one of her many blogs to find out more about other books about the Marshall family or her other works about the Medieval period. If you are interested in this book, why not check out a sample of chapter 1?

Why not check out this video trailer too?

Other great reviews of The Greatest Knight:
My other reviews of books by Elizabeth Chadwick:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).
Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Beautiful review! And it's wonderful that you should now have The Scarlet Lion as a continuation- I can't wait to read that too:)
    Hey, sounds like this one fits perfectly for French Historicals Oh-La-La Challenge;

  2. This sounds very interesting to me. Love the review !! Thanks for sharing !

  3. Wonderful review, so glad you enjoyed it! I have A Scarlet Lion waiting for me on my shelf...I am dying to dive into it :)

  4. I am currently reading this one and i'm on page 342, and liking Marshall a lot!!! I do have to agree about the years between chapters, so far I have kept going back to make sure I know which year am in, but overall a great read.

  5. Anything Elizabeth writes is more than worth the read. She makes the time period come alive for the reader.

  6. I wanted to read this one before the Scarlett Lion but didn't have time to fit it in. I'm thinking the first one would appeal to me more than the second.

  7. Excellent review. I loved the extra content and the fancy new stars!


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