Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Place Beyond Courage (William Marshal, #1)” as Want to Read:
A Place Beyond Courage (William Marshal, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Place Beyond Courage

(William Marshal #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,758 ratings  ·  294 reviews
The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper, and royal servant John FitzGilbert is one of them. But when the old king dies and his successor is appointed, John faces a terrible choice: he must join the rival faction-his enemies- or risk losing everything. His new wife helps him carry his burden, but his final choice will seal not only her fate, but tho ...more
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published October 4th 2007 by Sphere
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Place Beyond Courage, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Place Beyond Courage

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,758 ratings  ·  294 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Place Beyond Courage (William Marshal, #1)
Richard Derus
22. Pearl Ruled (p108)

Rating: 2* of five

The Publisher Says: The early twelfth century is a time for ambitious men to prosper, and royal servant John FitzGilbert is one of them. But when the old king dies and his successor is appointed, John faces a terrible choice: he must join the rival faction-his enemies- or risk losing everything. His new wife helps him carry his burden, but his final choice will seal not only her fate, but those of his young children. 

As the fight for England's crown enters
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: medieval fiction
Chadwick never fails to deliver! This is a prequel of sorts to The Greatest Knight, and is the story of John FitzGilbert, the father of William Marshal. The story takes place amidst the backdrop of England's civil war between Henry's daughter Matilda and her cousin Stephen who usurped her crown, as John tries to juggle his perilous position between the two rivals for the crown.

John's first marriage to Aline (the best he could make at the time in his position) does not fare well as she is weak o
Krista Claudine Baetiong
The first book from the William Marshal series, A Place Beyond Courage tells us the story of John FitzGilbert and his struggles to keep his life, family and court position safe from the chaos brought about by the civil war.

The story starts with John FitzGilbert acting as King Henry I’s marshal, an important royal position that he holds with efficiency and skill. His late father, despite his minor family background, had secured the position out of hard work, cunning, and the king’s good graces, a
Amy Bruno
A Place Beyond Courage is a novel of John FitzGilbert (John Marshal). In the year 1130 John is a royal marshal to King Henry I - young he may be, but through his courage and cunning he earned his stripes and respect and men knew not to mess with him. As royal marshal, John was the gate-keeper to the king - if you wanted to see the king, you needed to get past John first. He was also in charge of the court's living arrangements, the horses, the dogs and hawks - there was nothing John didn't have ...more
Rio (Lynne)
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
John FitzGilbert aka William Marshal's father, was King Henry 1's Marshal. When Henry suspiciously died John had to play a fine line between his oath to Matilda and the usurper Stephen. To play this game he needed a strong wife and alliance, not his current wife Aline who wasn't born or had the stomach to be the wife of a Marshal. Words and honor had to be broken to survive. Chadwick makes you laugh, get emotional and cheer like no other author. I love how she writes about lessor known, but very ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well-written but essentially Emmerdale meets renaissance fair schtick.
For people more accustomed to meatier, historical fiction gristle, you're best off reading something else as this all feels considerably more trite and focused on the intimate relationship side of things than the historical machinations and battles etc.
Regan Walker
Wonderful Medieval Storytelling brings you 12th Century England

Set in the twelfth century, beginning in 1130, this is the story of John FitzGilbert, the Marshall for King Henry I and Sybilla of Salisbury set against the war between King Stephen, who followed Henry I, and Matilda, Henry’s daughter.

When King Henry I dies, and his nephew, Stephen, becomes king, he rewards John with castles and lands. John, it turned out, was a master at organizing everything that made the king’s castles and life r
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a solid, action led historical romance. I'm not normally a romance reader, but I make an exception for Chadwick because she is a story teller first and foremost. As she writes stories based on history, it's not as 'safe' as some romance fiction, and certainly not as predictable. Add in a lyrical style and a great pace, convincing characters and a lot of technical skill - she's an author who deserves a much higher profile.

Set duing the Stephen and Matilda chaos (12th century UK) this stor
Jan 17, 2011 rated it liked it
I always like Elizabeth Chadwick's books, in fact I imported this one from the UK because I couldn't find it in the US. Having said that though, I think this is my least favorite so far. A Place Beyond Courage is the story of John Marshall, father of William Marshall who stars in The Greatest Knight also by Elizabeth Chadwick, and is memorable for his comment about having the hammer and anvils to form more and better sons when faced with William's execution as a four year old hostage. I probably ...more
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have a confession to make, one of which, as a self-respecting reader of Historical Fiction, I am duly ashamed. This is the first novel by Chadwick that I have read.
I’ve had several of her books on my “must get a copy” list for years now, and have never managed to get around to reading any of them, so when this title appeared on NetGalley (although it’s not a new novel, but a reissue), I decided to grab it to provide me with the needed impetus.

As I expected, the novel didn’t disappoint. Chadwic
Sarah u
I chose to read this book after thoroughly enjoying Lady of the English by the same author. This book tells a story of the same period from the point of view of the royal marshal, John Fitzgilbert, who serves Henry I, Stephen and Matilda in turn.

It is great to have discovered another historical fiction author who shows integrity and respect for the people they are writing about, I have to say. Elizabeth is careful with the facts and does not speculate wildly, the depth of her research really sho
Chadwick's novel chronicles the life of William Marshal's father during the time when Christ and His Saints Slept. While the plot is rather predictable (and I really felt sorry for Aliane), Chadwick's grasp of history and vigorous writing style make it worth a read. ...more
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
There are very few authors I can state for the record who NEVER fail me. Elizabeth Chadwick is amongst that exclusive pantheon. I truly do not know how she does it, bringing the tempestuous era of the Middle Ages to life. Every book is like a miniseries of the mind, though it has often occurred to me that the BBC would do well to turn one of her glorious novels into an actual series. Forget Game of Thrones--this is the real deal.

Though to be fair (and to showcase my incredible nerdiness), George
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This novel was brilliant; both well-written and incredibly interesting. I really enjoyed the William Marshall novels by Ms Chadwick and I found this prequel to his story to be just as enjoyable a read. I found John Marshall to be as intriguing a figure as his son, plus I enjoyed reading of William as a child and his experience inside Stephen's camp.
My favourite character of this novel was John's second wife, Sybilla. I feel as though Ms Chadwick used her character to cast a different light upon
Blodeuedd Finland
When I think of medieval fiction writers I think of Elizabeth Chadwick. She is the go to author for me and this was another great novel.

John FitzGilbert was the father of the more famous William Marshal. But this is John's book. He was King Henry II's marshal, he was young and went for what he wanted. I liked how he was portrayed, even in his darkest moments. Because in the end you can't know what he thought and felt and I felt what she wrote here was very possible.

His first wife was Aline, yeah
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you would happen to need me for anything, I can be found in the 12th Century. Thank you very much Elizabeth Chadwick. I was absolutely swept away and enamored by the first installment of the William Marshall series. A Place Beyond Courage is a novel about John FitzGilbert, William Marshall’s father. (William Marshall is the Greatest Knight and the subject of the subsequent novels in the series.) The setting is 12th Century England where the crown is up for grabs and the country is in turmoil. ...more
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Pretty much what you expect from Elizabeth Chadwick these days. Consistent quality - good story-telling, and a well-researched but unobtrusive historical 'backing tape'.

This is the story of William Marshal's parents, so a prequel to The Greatest Knight.

I quite enjoy being picky with historicals and finding little faults, but to be honest there's not much scope for that here because the author knows her job too well. John Marshal's rather dull first marriage is maybe more reflective of the avera
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was my first Elizabeth Chadwick book, but will not be my last. It is a while since I have enjoyed a historical fiction book as much of this one. It gave a strong feel for the time and place of the battle between Stephen and Matilda and the cost to those involved in this Ongoing war. The character of JohnFitzGilbert came through well, as did his courage and never say die attitude. An interesting introduction to William Marshall as well, who is the subject of The Greatest Knight which I inten ...more
I don't think I have ever had the chance to expound upon my love Elizabeth Chadwick up here. She is by far, one of the most skilled historical novelists, immaculate with her research, clever with her language, and an utter dream to read and truly immerse you in the times of the tales she tells. It takes me a while if I have to stop reading to reorient myself to where and when I actually am she is so incredibly spellbinding with her tales.

I discovered a couple of her early books when traveling i
Kiesha ~ 1Cheekylass
Well I'll be damned. I kind of fell in love with John FitzGilbert. He was difficult, hard and a bit of a jerk but there were other layers to him as well. Also really loved Sybilla. Aline wore me out. She was soooooo nervous and mousy. I was unsure if this one will hold my interest but it really did and made me ready to learn more about William. ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite times of year is whenever there happens to be a new Elizabeth Chadwick novel. After reading her wonderful, engrossing novel, The Greatest Knight, she now ranks as one of my favorite authors. Her historical fiction has no equal. It doesn’t just state the dry history, but becomes living history. Chadwick uses creative techniques to tell the story including reenactment and akashic records.

A Place Beyond Courage is the story of the Greatest Knight’s (William Marshal’s) father, Joh
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
All I can say is Elizabeth Chadwick, I want more. She is one of my favorite authors. I have been known to buy her books of Amazon UK or ebay to get my hands on them.

This book tells the story of John Marshal, father to the famous William Marshal who has been featured in 2 books by Elizabeth Chadwick. John as the Kings Marshall has a big job. He is the one who keeps his fingers on everything the King and his staff and his followers need. And he has to provide for their needs. When the old King Hen
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kobo, series
" A Place Beyond Courage" is a prequel of The Greatest Knight (William Marshal, #1) by Elizabeth Chadwick and The Scarlet Lion (William Marshal, #2) by Elizabeth Chadwick focuses on the life of John FitzGilbert, father of William, who served as the King's Marshal. Elizabeth Chadwick explains that after completing the two books on William she felt compelled to lay out his father's story due to the historical information that she had uncovered during her research. I am glad that she did because I was interested in a man who would give his 5 year old son over to King Stephen as a ransom of sorts.
Our story be
Andrea Jaffray
Jul 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Elizabeth Chadwick is an amazing author who manages to bring her characters to life with an amazing authenticity!

This is a prequel to The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. I have not had the opportunity to read either of these, but was able to fin APBC at my local Chapters and snatched it up!

A Place Beyond Courage is the story of John FitzGilbert marshal to Henry I, then to Stephen and finally to the Empress. The story tells of his journey through love, betrayal and his trials in life. EC br
Beth (moonivy)
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers
Read 12/22-12/23/07.
A Place Beyond Courage tells the fascinating story of John FitzGilbert
father of the great knight and statesman William Marshal. As Marshal to
Henry I, Stephen and Empress Matilda, John Marshal fought and plotted and
scrambled to survive civil war for much of his life. A hard man in a
contentious time, Chadwick does a marvelous job of bringing the reader
inside his head and times. The romance between Marshal and his second wife
Sybilla is lovely and the pragmatic Sybilla i
Rebecca Huston
A grand tale of the middle ages that no one has touched before now. Elizabeth Chadwick keeps getting better with each of her novels, and this one is no exception. Set during the wars of Stephen and Matilda in 12th century England, this tells the story of John Marshal, and can be considered a prequel to The Greatest Knight, but doesn't have to be read as a series. One of my favourites, and here's hoping for more from this author.

The scene in the burning church is one of the most tense and fraugh
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hfu-2014
I had high expectations for this book as it is the prequel of the William Marshall series which I loved. This son tells the story of Marshall's father, John Fitzgilbert, Marshall to two kings and an empress/want to be queen. In the beginning I was thinking it was OK but not nearly as captivating as the others in the series! but then there is an abrupt change. New characters enter the picture and the plot thickens, the characters strengthen, the story becomes more lively and I became much more in ...more
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent book by Elizabeth Chadwick about John FitzGilbert (Marshall to Henry I and father to William Marshall) as he walks a precarious line between loyalty and survival - a line that will force him to take a serious gamble with the life of his youngest son. John is not the cold, unfeeling man his "anvils and hammers" speech might indicate and Chadwick does a great job showing the complexity of his character and the difficult position in which he was placed. Combining just the right ba ...more
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I wasn’t sure how I was going to like reading about John FitzGilbert, William Marshal’s father. John’s famous response to his son being given as a hostage speaks volumes of a cold, unfeeling, ruthless man- or does it? Elizabeth Chadwick reminds us that there is another side to the story and it deserves to be told. True to form, the author expertly weaves a compelling history of the man, and I found myself admiring him even more than the son (if that is possible). John FitzGilbert had to manoeuvr ...more
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a reasonably enjoyable book. Elizabeth Chadwick certainly knows her history.

The bulk of the book was a little dry in the style it has been written. There were times when it felt more like reading a history book rather than a historical novel, if you know what I mean. For me the story finally came alive in the last 120 pages.

If you like books set around medieval history you will probably enjoy reading this.

I would read another book by the same author.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Silken Rose (The Rose Trilogy, #1)
  • Queen of the North
  • A Tapestry of Treason
  • Time and Chance (Plantagenets #2; Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine #2)
  • The Land Beyond the Sea
  • When Christ and His Saints Slept (Plantagenets #1; Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, #1)
  • Here Be Dragons (Welsh Princes, #1)
  • Falls the Shadow  (Welsh Princes, #2)
  • The King's Concubine
  • The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones
  • The Captive Princess: Eleanor Fair Maid of Brittany (Medieval Babes, Tales of Little-Known Ladies Book 3)
  • Child of Water (The Heirs of Anarchy, #1)
  • Katherine - Tudor Duchess (The Brandon Trilogy Book 3)
  • The Seven Wonders (Ancient World, #1)
  • Medical Downfall of the Tudors: Sex, Reproduction & Succession
  • The Reckoning  (Welsh Princes, #3)
  • The Price of Blood (The Emma of Normandy Trilogy, #2)
  • The Lady of the Ravens
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

William Marshal (5 books)
  • The Greatest Knight (William Marshal, #2)
  • The Scarlet Lion (William Marshal, #3)
  • The Time of Singing (William Marshal, #4; Bigod, #1)
  • Templar Silks (William Marshal #6)

Related Articles

What will you do when it's your turn to pick your book club's next read? Well, this is what you won't do: panic. Why not? Because we've dug...
76 likes · 15 comments