Thursday, August 27, 2009

Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion

Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen's Champion
Elizabeth Chadwick
Sourcebooks, Sep 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9781402225185

In the early thirteenth century, as the younger son of an affluent influential family, William Marshal has limited prospects. However, he proves quite skillful with a sword. When he performs a chivalrous act that saves the life of powerful Queen of Eleanor of Aquitaine, he earns the position of special protector. He becomes tutors to the princes and pledges loyalty to the heir Henry out of his fealty to the lad’s mother. He stays loyal as rebellion pits father against son and when Henry dies, Marshal swears loyalty to Henry's brother Richard. This placed him against his brother who pledged loyalty to Richard’s brother Prince John. While Richard is on Crusade, John makes a bid for the throne; this puts Marshal between a rock and a hard place as he must choose between honoring his pledge or his family. He obviously chose right as he became known as the "greatest knight” by his peers.

This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as William served loyally and bravely to a who’s who of the period. The cast starting with Eleanor and the succession of princes/kings/cardinals and popes enhance a strong look at a fascinating individual.

Harriet Klausner

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