Title: The Greatest Knight
Author: Elizabeth Chadwick
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
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.
A writer of uncommon historical integrity and accuracy, Elizabeth Chadwick resurrects the true story of one of England’s greatest forgotten heroes in a captivating blend of fact and fiction. The Greatest Knight restores William Marshal to his rightful place at the pinnacle of the Middle Ages, reflecting through him the triumphs, scandals, and power struggles that haven’t changed in eight hundred years.
Ever since I started reading historical fiction, I’ve been hearing amazing things about Elizabeth Chadwick, and specifically The Greatest Knight. I knew I wanted to read it as soon as possible, but there was a stumbling block: the book wasn’t available in the US. It was a UK-only release. However, Sourcebooks Landmark has rectified this grave injustice to Americans by releasing The Greatest Knight in the United States! When I heard this was the case, I jumped at the chance to review this novel that I’d heard so much about.
After reading The Greatest Knight, I am certain that its high reputation is in no way undeserved. This is an impeccably written historical fiction novel. The amount of research Chadwick must have put into it is incredible – the details and writing make you feel like you’re actually in that time. I haven’t read a lot about this period in history, so I really felt like I learned a a great deal. Additionally, the author’s note at the back of the book is very useful to determine what is true and what Chadwick chose to embellish.
I loved that Chadwick chose to feature an unsung hero in The Greatest Knight, rather than picking someone well-known from history. While I enjoy reading new interpretations of figures in history I’m familiar with, it was refreshing to read about someone I knew almost nothing about. Had it not been for my familiarity with this book prior to reading it, I would not have even known William Marshal existed. He lived an incredible life, and I’m glad I was introduced to it through Chadwick’s incredible novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Greatest Knight and highly recommend it to any fans of historical fiction. While the novel is completely stand-alone, it left me wanting more of William! Fortunately, there is a sequel called The Scarlet Lion; I can only hope that Sourcebooks Landmark chooses to release it soon!