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The Greatest Knight (William Marshal #2)

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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  5,275 ratings  ·  555 reviews
A medieval historical novel about William Marshal, probably the greatest knight of the Middle Ages. This is the story of how he rose through the dangerous world of Angevin politics to become one of the most powerful magnates of the realm and eventually regent of England.
Paperback, UK edition, 552 pages
Published 2006 by Time Warner (first published November 3rd 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephanie
I am not usually into medieval fiction, or historical fiction much at all, but this was really good! That is one thing I love about GoodReads; I find new and wonderful books that I would never have picked for myself.

This story is based on the life of a forgotten hero, William Marshal, the knight selected by Eleanor of Acquitaine to train her sons in horsemanship and chivalry. While Eleanor's sons might not have turned out that great, it wasn't any fault of William Marshal's. He was amazing! Mos
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Jamie
A nice romance/historical fiction about the legendary knight-errant who served Eleanor of Aquitaine and her sons, including Richard the Lionheart and the infamous King John. I felt immersed in medieval Europe and was always reluctant to put the book down. The details on tournament play were particularly interesting.

One thing I felt was lacking was an exploration of Marshal's childhood and adolescence, since I was curious about the impact of his father's abandonment. The book begins when Marshal
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Ricarda
This book has everything that I might wish for in a 600 page long historic novel. A hero who makes his way in the world by using chance and opportunity, an enigmatic Queen, a King who's been the first Plantagenet on the throne and a lot of historical conflict at the core of the narrative.
What I didn't find however, was a good book which I think is extremely sad because all the requirements for a great read where there.

The minor thing that bothered me was language. Chadwick certainly can write,
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Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
I started this in the evening and never stopped reading. Chadwick's writing is like a history peep show and I love it. Ok, so William Marshal is larger than life, basically a saint and annoyingly ethical in a sea of scumbags, but I still love him. I seem to have a thing for these men in history that are nice guys but still can kick your ass!
Amy
Elizabeth Chadwick really outdid herself with this novel about William Marshal, son of the infamous John Marshal, the man behind the “the hammer and anvil” speech. When William was 6 years old his father pledged him as a hostage to King Stephen during a siege. When his father turned sides and broke his word, William’s death was a foregone conclusion. Fortunately for William, King Stephen had no intention of murdering a child and he was spared.

Marshal is penniless and with no land to call his ow
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Misfit
Chadwick just keeps getting better and better! This was a wonderful story and much different from Chadwick's previous books, but is to be somewhat expected as Marshal's early life was one of duty to his lord(s) and not leaving much room for romance.

A fascinating look at a true, honorable and loyal man, who in the end was well rewarded for his loyalty by marriage to a wealthy heiress who became his life's soul mate. Much of the book is involved with the treachery and intrigue of the Plantagenet
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Barb
Elizabeth Chadwick's 'The Greatest Knight' chronicles the life of William Marshall, the Medieval soldier and statesman who was described as "the greatest knight that ever lived".

Chadwick takes us from Marshall's boyhood through his service to three kings; King Henry II, Henry the Young King and King Richard. Marshall is loyal and true to those he pledges his fealty even in the face of near certain peril.

I found the history interesting but Chadwick failed to bring these characters to life for m
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Martin Lake
Perfect knight, consummate politician or both

This novel tells the story of William Marshal who was one of the greatest English knights of the twelfth century, or arguably, any century. He was also astute politically and this story shows how he was able to loyally serve King Henry II and two of his sons who were engaged in an almost feral conflict with each other. In this maelstrom of passion and family feud Marshal was the great survivor.

Chadwick weaves a marvellous story which made the era com
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Laura
The Greatest Knight is quite simply, one of the best historical fiction novels that I have read in quite awhile. This novel is the story of William Marshal, perhaps the greatest knight of the middle ages. The story is set mostly during the reign of King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine during the 12th century. I have always found this to be a fascinating period of history, and it was wonderful to learn about a compelling new (to me) character during this part of history.

William Marshal is
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Chris
I owe Chadwick an apolgy. I've been aware of her for a while, mostly though GRFs but I have been somewhat wary of picking up her books. This is not due to distrust on the part of my GRFs reviews, but more with knowledge that my tolerance of romantic fiction is, currently, very, very, very, very low. And some of the covers of Chadwick's books look a bit too romancy I'm the same way with Urban Fantasy. You know what's it like, you've been burnt by false book advertising before, and you know you're ...more
Shelli
Jan 02, 2012 Shelli rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Shelli by: Kerri
What a fantastic way to start out the new year with a 5 star read. This was filled with wonderful historical information mixed in with an exciting and immensely readable story. Part action, part love story there was never a dull moment for me. A fitting title as I fell in love with the main character William Marshal. What surprised me about the book is I also had great admiration for two of the lead female characters, Eleanor of Acquitaine and Isabelle de Clare, this doesn't usually happen for m ...more
Heather
The Greatest Knight is the first part of a tale about William Marshall. He begins his life as a lowly hearth knight scrabbling his way up the social hierarchy of the medieval period.

“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 dan
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C

I really enjoyed the story in print. In audio, it was just not working for me. Granted, this was partially due to my rustiness with history. As I was listening, I kept getting distracted trying to place where the story rests in the timeline of history I'm actually familiar with. "1135-1196" did not ring a bell to me, so I had to do some digging on the side. "Around the time of the Robin Hood legends" gave me an anchor point. For fellow History Dunces, the Richard in this book is the King Richard
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Tara Chevrestt
Most all of my reading friends have read this book and declared their undying love for William Marshall, the greatest knight. 25 percent into this book, I said, "Hm. This is really well written. Love the Eleanor tidbits, but I'm not in love with this William dude."

50 percent into the book, I said, "I have no interested in all these Henrys and Johns fighting over the crown, but Chadwick is making this interesting. This is a darn good book, but I'm still not in love with William. Everything he do
...more
Terri
I love English monarchial history through Queen Elizabeth, and the Lion in Winter is one of my favorite movies, so any chance to learn more about the people and times of Henry II and Eleanor of Acquitaine is welcomed. Though one always has to be careful with historical fiction, or fictionized history, this story helps to flesh out the events prior to and after the events of The Lion in Winter. Henry II's son, Henry, who is already dead by the time of the movie, is a fully realized character here ...more
Lucinda
Beguiling characters, stunning historical detail within a captivating narrative makes this impressive read outstanding!

I am a huge fan and keen reader of works by Elizabeth Chadwick, for her impressive collection of Medieval novels stand-out above all other historical literature. It is the author’s attention to detail that makes her work so beautifully atmospheric, as past ages are brought boldly to life with much fervent intensity and color. This stunning novel cleverly combines both fact and
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June Louise
This is an action-packed medieval saga featuring the little known hero, William Marshall, who is every fair damsel's idea of a "knight in shining armour". Under the reign of King Henry II, family loyalties are tested - never more so when first of all there is a jostling for power between Old King Henry (Henry II) and his son Young King Henry (who was never actually monarch in his own right, and therefore was not given the title Henry III); and then between Henry II's other sons Richard I (Richar ...more
Leah
I first encountered William Marshal in Maurice Keen's Chivalry when I was doing research for my dissertation. I was intrigued by the thought that a real knight existed who was the epitome of chivalry. But I was too busy then to read any further about him. Our paths did cross, most recently when I visited Chepstow Castle this summer and the Temple this past March, and I'd register recognition and move on.

I discovered Elizabeth Chadwick through a discussion of another excellent historical novel, T
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Ana T.
Elizabeth Chadwick is one of my favourite authors. I've read quite a few of her books so far and I have really enjoyed them all with one or two being special favourites. I was very enthusiastic when I found out she was going to write a book about William Marshal which I had already found in some books as a secondary character and was curious about.

The Greatest Knight is a biography; it tells the story from when a young William is sent as a hostage to his king and it ends when he is already well
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Lauren
This novel tells the story of William Marshall. Not surprisingly (for those familiar with Marshall's story), it begins with a flashback of 5 year old William as a hostage of King Stephen during the war between Steven and the Empress Matilda. Stephen magnanimously (or foolishly?) decides to spare William's life, despite telling his father that William would be executed for failure to keep faith. William's father notoriously replies that he has the hammer and anvils to fashion more sons. Under tha ...more
Holly Weiss
Finally, an author pays tribute to this little-known English knight. William Marshall, who served Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son, the young King Henry, earned his place in history. I admired his loyalty, integrity and intelligence. He found love later in life because of his many duties to the court. The Greatest Knight is an impeccably written book.

From the Goodreads synposis - "She (Elizabeth Chadwich) appeals to readers who are looking for historical accuracy and strong, believable character
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Veronica
I enjoyed this look into the life of a little known historical figure, William Marshall, a knight who served during the time of Henry II. The writing style was easy and the book well-paced, giving a nice idea of medieval life in England. It felt more like a highlights or cliffnotes version of William's life however since every chapter skipped ahead a few years in his life, meanwhile the Plantagenet family dramas (Henry II, Eleanor of Aqtuitaine, and their sons Henry, Richard, and John) ferment i ...more
Carole Rae
I have officially joined the club that LOVES this book! Elizabeth Chadwick must have written this book with magic, because you become addicted to it. You can't put it down. I'll admit that I never heard of William Marshal....but she opened my eyes to this wonderful man. All I can say is: just read this book. You won't regret it.
Jody A
Sep 05, 2007 Jody A rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Maudeen
Excellent fictional biography of this great Knight. Having read Couch's biography, Ms Chadwick has given life to this great hero of the medieval period, savoring the best highlight of a his full and fruitfull life. Ms Chadwick should be commended for her excellent skill in giving breath to his story but still keeping the history intact.
Dalila.
Loved it! Extremely well written by author who really is an artist with words.The characters were interesting and had some depth to them.This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as William served loyally and bravely to his king.
Jeff
So I have had this on my to-read list for a long time, but two things prevented me from picking it up. The first was the general lack of availability at my local library; the second was Harlequin romance-type cover art. I overcame the first with a recent purchase of a Kindle, and the second by downloading a sample chapter to ensure that the writing wasn’t focused solely on knightly romance. I was very pleasantly surprised by Chadwick’s ability to weave historical facts and storytelling into an e ...more
Gwen
Mar 12, 2014 Gwen rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: shite
Meh. This could have been an exciting book with heart-wrenching and exciting scenes, if the author had managed to inject any real emotion whatsoever. As it is, it's monotonous on the level both of the overarching plot, and each scene. Even if you don't know anything about William the Marshal, every time he's facing some new hardship you know that he's going to come out of it on his feet with his halo intact and very little real challenge. If the narrator switches to a character other than Willia ...more
Gretchen
I loved the idea of a novel dedicated to William Marshall. He rose from being the 4th son of a landholder, to a man of wealth and stature, serving 3 of Englands kings in the process. He was present at a number of critical moments in English history, and is mentioned in many original sources, so there was a lot of historical fact to bring up in this novel.

Unfortunately, I think the facts got in the way of the story for this novel. Chadwick does cover a lot of history, but Marshall as a person see
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Jerry A.
Rarely does a novel stumble so much over its own hagiographic intent as Elizabeth Chadwick's "The Greatest Knight." And there is something really sad about this: obviously, she believes her subject and main character here to be not just important and unacknowledged in his contributions to the foundations of the English nation, but someone whose life and actions are vindicated by the available historical record. But in her effort to depict the 12th century knight William Marshal as a heroic figur ...more
Sheree
Jan 09, 2009 Sheree rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sheree by: Alaine
Another favourite read for 2008
In this rich tapestry of medieval life Chadwick chronicles the life of William Marshal 'one of Englands's greatest forgotten heroes' from humble origins through his service to 4 kings & finally as Regent of England. Marshal is loyal to those he pledges his fealty even in the face of death, a rare commodity in an age where many men switched allegiance to suit themselves. He was well known and loved as a chivalrous knight & for his success on the tourney circ
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Elizabeth Chadwic...: Is chivalry really dead? 2 7 Apr 01, 2014 09:55AM  
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Best selling historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick won a Betty Trask Award for her first novel The Wild Hunt. She has been shortlisted for the UK's mainstream Best Romantic Novel of the Year Award 4 times and longlisted twice. Her novel The Scarlet Lion about the great William Marshal and his wife Isabelle de Clare, has been selected by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society as one ...more
More about Elizabeth Chadwick...

Other Books in the Series

William Marshal (5 books)
  • A Place Beyond Courage (William Marshal, #1)
  • The Scarlet Lion (William Marshal, #3)
  • The Time of Singing (William Marshal #4) (Bigod #1)
  • To Defy a King (William Marshal #5)
The Scarlet Lion (William Marshal, #3) Lady of the English To Defy a King (William Marshal #5) A Place Beyond Courage (William Marshal, #1) Shadows and Strongholds

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