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Summary

From humble beginnings and a narrow escape from death in childhood, William Marshall steadily rises through the ranks to become tutor in arms to the son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Based on fact, this is the story of William Marshal, the greatest knight of the Middle Ages, unsurpassed in the tourneys, adeptly manoeuvring through the colourful, dangerous world of power and politics to become one of the most powerful magnates of the realm and eventually Regent of England.

©2006 Elizabeth Chadwick (P)2006 Soundings

Critic reviews

"Elizabeth Chadwock knows exactly how to write convincing compelling history." ( Marina Oliver)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    116
  • 4 Stars
    52
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    80
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    90
  • 4 Stars
    33
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JW
  • 04-08-11

Brilliant

What an excellent listen. So good that I couldn't stop listening !! I love British medieval history and this book really does bring the period to life. The author has linked the facts and the fiction to produce not only a good book but a credible account of the period. Thoroughly enjoyable and very highly recommended.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barbara
  • HOGNASTON, United Kingdom
  • 06-01-14

You feel you're there. Part of the tale unfolding

What did you like most about The Greatest Knight?

How William was able to get through what seems to be unsurmountable problems in his life and just battles on.It made it all the better because William Marshal was the greatest knight and much is known about him. The story has been weaved cleverly through the history that is known to make the reader feel they are part of some of the most turbulent times in our history.

What did you like best about this story?

How the Greatest Knight develops as a person and how he balances work and personal life.

What does Christopher Scott bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The length of pauses in the right places. It gives the characters more depth. Helps the listener wait anxiously for more. Yet he paces the book so well.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

To give you some idea of my feelings for this first of the William Marshal books. I've downloaded the next one and the others are in my wish list.Elizabeth Chadwick is a great novelist who couldn't have done better than choose Christopher Scott to narrate them.Thank you all.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

One of the best books I've ever read about medieval life, if I ever thought it was boring and staid then I have been sorely misinformed. I would recommend it to anyone.

Wonderful

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lesley
  • Melksham, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
  • 21-11-09

Extraordinary Life of a Knight

The early years of William Marshall and how life was for a knight of the royal court. The intrigues and politics make for a good plot and Elizabeth Chadwick manages to transport one back in time with a brilliant and descriptive talent. I would really recommend this book to historical addicts.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Julie
  • Worcester, United Kingdom
  • 11-09-11

Great book about the Greatest Knight

Oooooooooo, loved every minute of this book, didn't want it to end so I was pleased to discover there's a sequel! The narrator is easy to listen to, which is obviously a bonus and the story canters along at a great pace!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Liz
  • Poole, United Kingdom
  • 05-08-11

A really good read

Its the first time I have chosen a book by this author but on the recommendation of my sister I downloaded this one. Although I have only just got it I am very impressed. Its a really good story which bounds along at a good pace and am already planning to download more from the author.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

No depth, no real conflict, no passion

What disappointed you about The Greatest Knight?

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 William Marshal for a moment, you know they'll be important, and within a sentence you can probably guess why. The characters have very little depth and it's just hard to care about them. The chapters felt about as emotional as if I had just read "William's liege was sinful and died, so William was sad and went to Jerusalem to save his soul and ponder death. Then he came back, won another tournament, and the queen told him how honorable he was."It was okay listening (on x1.25 speed) while I was doing data entry at work, but I won't be getting the sequel. I guess a positive point is that I now know how to pronounce "deshabille", as the author seems a bit addicted to that word.

Would you ever listen to anything by Elizabeth Chadwick again?

Nope.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration was fine, although there's a piece of weird new-age-jazz-celtic music they've composed to put in chapter breaks and things, and it seemed to be just randomly put into places where it's not needed and left out of places it should be in. Sometimes it's like this:"William came in from his latest journey looking tired and full of honor. **MEDIEVAL ELEVATOR MUSIC** His wife thought about their babies, ran him a bath, asked him what was going on and gave him sage advice."but then sometimes it's like this:"William was no longer surprised that his 23 year old former captive medieval lady wife was a budding diplomat and took her advice to heart. John watched as knights rode up to his castle, fuming about how hard his life was and how he wasn't as good as his little brother."

What character would you cut from The Greatest Knight?

They're all as cardboard and shallow as each other.

Any additional comments?

It WAS interesting from a historical point of view, given that it's essentially a badly-dramatized biography, and did prompt me to spend some time on Wikipedia learning more about who the characters were in real life and how they fit into the rest of that period in England's history. I'm going to have to look up more historical fiction about this period and these people, just not by this author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amanda
  • Ferryhill, United Kingdom
  • 20-07-09

The greatest Knight

This is a terrific book, good historiclly, well characterised and easy to listen to. I am just about to download the sequel!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • LONDON, SURREY, United Kingdom
  • 06-05-09

Brilliant

Elizabeth Chadwick is a wonderful storyteller and the book is beautifully read. I enjoyed the listen immensley and highly recommend both the book and the author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Disjointed and confusing

Far too many time jumps without enough explanation. For instance, a war happens and the reader only learns of this through the main character briefly reminiscing about it. This happens so often, instead of witnessing the character going through events, being told how he felt during those events, we're instead briefly told about them through the characters memory. This creates a rather hollow main character that goes through very little change. I lasted 7 hours, nothing much has happened. Oh except tourneys, lots and lots of tourneys.

The performance is ok, however, some of the voices sound a little too similar. I constantly forgot who was supposed to be talking.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel
  • 27-12-10

Could have been Greater.

After finnishing Pillars of the Earth and World With Out End (both excellent), I was calmouring for a new mideval book. Someone had told me this was a good book. I agree the story line is a good one, but it could have been better. When the story really gets going, it stops and bam you are 3 months to 3 years later and the charachters are passively takling about what had happend. I wish the author had actually writen those scenes, she could have been so much more discriptive. The book felt rushed and slow at the same time. I guess the other two books I just finnished have spoiled me. That author throughly described and developed his characters. You get to know them, and can easily envision the scene. I hope her other books are better.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • JoR
  • 14-10-10

Interesting and enjoyable

I purchased this book on a chance. I'd never heard of the author and her books are described as "bodice rippers." I'm not the bodice-ripper type. However, I am very interested in 12th century European history, and anyone who knows about the period has heard of William Marshal. So, wanting a good medieval tale, I tried The Greatest Knight. I thought it was a good book. I really liked the author's character development, and the dialogue is well-written and fun. But she missed a lot of opportunities to describe action. Oh, there were a few skirmishes that she told about, though she skipped over the majority of so many battles and tourneys that it left me shaking my fist for more. I wish she had done more. Despite this, I still really liked the book. I'd have given it four stars if there had been more action.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Steven
  • 04-03-12

Good but heavy on the familial and court gossip

I really like some of Elizabeth Chadwick's novels. This book while I did enjoy it, I didn't love it and found it tedious at times. I will admit that William Marshall is a lofty subject to cover so I can forgive the dates skipping around alot. I felt that the book was about 80% about Marshall's familial life at home with his wife\concubine and english court politics and only about 20% about his Tourney and Military career. You hear alot about how GREAT a militarist and tourney'er he was but vary rarely ever actually see it. There are few battle scenes and few tourney scenes which I found odd based on his reputation. I also found it a bit hard to really get to know Marshall other than he was a man of honor and integrity, his character came off a bit flat for me.

The book constantly made me feel a bit let down because it would build up to a castle siege scene and then you turn the page expecting some interesting siege warfare and what you get is him returing to his wife and describing the siege after the fact in a few sentences. I felt cheated ALOT!

I will probably read the next book just to finish out the story but this book was average in my opinion.

Pros
-Good historical research
-Interesting subject
-Good details that draw you into the 12th century life

Cons
-WAY TOO much time covering his home life, romance and family
-WAY too much time spent with discussions related to the English court (Which I already knew alot about)
-NOT nearly enough that shows us why he was so good at Tourneying or Military skills

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rowena
  • 23-05-09

Lovely

I really enjoy Elizabeth Chadwick's work, the Greatest Knight was very enjoyable to listen to as a night time story before bed and I have since bought the sequel, the Scarlet Lion. I would also recommend her book Lords of the White Castle!
Christopher Scott is a wonderful narrator and contributes beautifully to the story.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Compute
  • 10-08-15

Fantastic Read

What a fantastic read. Elizabeth Chadwick definitely writes an intriguing historical novel. The second book definitely surpasses the first book and has maintained my interest throughout. She literally makes history step off the pages. The book is so good that I've already purchased and am reading the third book in the series. Great reading.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Isabelle
  • 08-02-10

Good Story, Good Audio

I just finished this audiobook, and I enjoyed it. I would have liked a little more detail on the tourneys, but that's a minor point. Good narration. The production could have been a little better with scene changes - sometimes I missed when we changed scenes. Overall, though, I found it very interesting and enjoyable and I'd like to hear more this author-narrator team.

It should be said that the title character is fascinating.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Diane Elliott
  • 28-03-16

Great narrator, great writing!

Loved it, but I am prejudice, since William Marshall is my 21st great grandfather. Thanks.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Peggy
  • 19-11-08

The Greatest Knight

This is an excellent book. I couldn't stop listening to it yet hated to see it end. This is my first experience with this author and my next purchase will be the continued saga of William! I would greatly recommend it.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Luis
  • 08-10-08

Great Story

I like the book and am going to get the second part to here the rest of the tale.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Cameron
  • 17-06-09

Decent Story but Not Enough Action

The story is pretty good and I like the interplay between William (the main character) and the kings (like Henry, Richard, and John). However, there are a lot of fights that are not really described and she spends too much time talking about courtly love.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful