Happy Reading

Toni's bookshelf: read

The Godfather of Kathmandu (Sonchai Jitpleecheep, #4)
Ape House
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Operation Napoleon
Walking Dead
The Sentimentalists
The Heretic Queen
The Midnight House
Cross Fire
Peony in Love
Finding Nouf: A Novel
City of Veils: A Novel
First Daughter
A Place of Hiding
Peter Pan

Toni Osborne's favorite books »

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"The Greatest Knight", by Elizabeth Chadwick

Book 1 in the life of William Marshal

Set in England and France 1167-1194, the story is a convincing and compelling blend of facts and fiction exploring the life of William Marshal, one of England’s greatest knights during the Middle Ages. William rose from obscurity as a son of a minor aristocrat to a champion in his field, a confidant to kings, a magnate and eventually one of England’s respected regents. Elizabeth Chadwick has given us once again a rich and detailed novel filled with excellent research and a fascinating look into a historical character.

As a child, William was sent to serve in King Stephen’s court where he learned the importance of loyalty and honour along with the art of knighthood. His finely tune skills won the respect of Henry11 and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, he eventually became a marshal, tutor and model to the royal princes.

As a champion on the tourney, William faced danger and the petty jealousy that doges any royal favourite. Haunted by scandal he is eventually banished from court but his services are nevertheless sought throughout Europe and when William's honour is finally restored, he returns to court with greater acclaim and power than ever.

His devoted loyalty was rewarded when he was given the hand of 19 year old Isabel de Clare, heiress and daughter of Richard Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke. Marrying her came with many perks, such as land in England, Wales, Ireland and Normandy. From his humble beginnings as a penniless knight, William Marshal became one of the richest men in the country.

Ms. Chadwick brought to life an extraordinary story about a fascinating man in history (her notes at the end of the novel are useful to distinguish facts from fiction). Most of the characters are well defined historical figures although I am partial to the fictional character, Clara, William’s mistress and confidant, their association added romance and intrigue. The prose and narrative are straightforward and colourful leaving a vivid image to immerse the readers into the splendour of a medieval setting.

There is so much going on in this stunning novel, I hope my short summary is successful in piquing everyone’s interest. She is one of my favourite historical fiction novelists.

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