A historical action adventure story. [William Marshal] looms through the 13th-century fog almost as a chivalrous knight of Arthurian legend … Asbridge gives him a mighty, heroic memorial.
Iain Finalyson, The Times
Despite being a ‘landless younger son’, [William Marshal] became an adviser and confidant to Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as to their sons Henry, John and Richard. In his youth, Marshal was a champion jouster, a pilgrim to the Holy Land and an honest broke between King John and his barons during the signing of Magna Carta … By anyone’s standards, [William’s] was a successful life. By medieval standards, it was an ideal one.
New York Times Sunday Book Review
A thoroughly entertaining account of England’s most colourful and courageous medieval knight
Thomas Asbridge has turned [William Marshal’s] life into popular history of the best sort … ‘The Greatest Knight’ gives us a moving portrait of one man’s struggle, ascent and final (peaceful) demise under the Angevins, at the great age of 72.
Christopher Hart, Sunday Times
The distinguished British professor Thomas Asbridge could have no better subject … [He] has written a rip-roaring new life of Marshal … [a] splendid account of a great medieval life.
Dan Jones, Wall Street Journal
‘The Greatest Knight’ is the true story of a medieval knight, told with rich detail
Asbridge has fashioned a rare and fascinating tale: a biography of a medieval knight told with all the rich detail, dialogue, and action that is usually possible only for figures from later periods … Asbridge is a wonderful guide to the complex politics and history of medieval England [and] he rounds out his story with fascinating accounts of medieval etiquette, royal politics, and siege warfare. Marshal’s life offers a uniquely vivid view of the world of medieval knights that eventually found expression in Arthurian legends.
Christian Science Monitor
A Must-Read of the Week
The term “medieval biography” doesn’t necessarily conjure up a lot of excitement among the general book-loving population. But in this case, it really should. This blood, guts, gore and gallantry romp through medieval history, following the great knight William Marshall (1147-1219), is way more fun than it should be. We begin with Marshall, who is nearly put to death at five, but escapes, makes a name for himself as a fierce warrior, becomes a politician, and is later named regent of the realm.
New York Post
‘The Greatest Knight’ is a laudable historical read for anyone interested in the Medieval era. Marshal is a fascinating figure all on his own, and standing as a representative of a very compelling period in history, he illuminates the political turmoil of the period as well as the changing ideas around what it meant to be a warrior. This book is a must-read for those who enjoy well-told history and a fantastic story for those merely interested in good storytelling.
San Francisco Book Review
England’s Greatest Knight Puts ‘Game of Thrones’ to Shame
A riveting new biography [enlivened by Asbridge’s] knack for storytelling … Marshal’s life story is inarguably a magnificent yarn, and Asbridge has astutely used it to tell the juicy and complicated tale of the ups and downs of the Angevin empire. Marshal was an astounding figure—his rags-to-riches journey, his prolific fighting career and his place at the table of history—all make for an irresistible tale … [Asbridge’s] eye-opening account [gives us] an entertaining reminder that sometimes, the truth really is better than fiction.
The Daily Beast
A rich and elaborate tapestry… a story about how medieval knighthood worked; the interlocking web of obligation and fealty, friendship and loyalty… [The Greatest Knight] will appeal to history buffs as well as fans of fiction set in the medieval period.
Library Journal, Starred Review
Asbridge delivers an intensively researched but lucid portrait of a knight who triumphed in an age much nastier than that of Arthur’s mythical kingdom … A valuable biography of an important figure in a distant, violent, barely comprehensible era.
This is medieval history at its very best – a compelling story told by a historian whose knowledge is both thorough and extensive, and whose enthusiasm for the subject rings out on every page.
Ian Mortimer, author of Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England
History doesn’t come more exciting than this. Thomas Asbridge has written a page turner about William Marshal, the Zelig of English history, a man who was indispensable to five kings, and had a hand in practically every important event during those turbulent and eventful reigns.
Danny Danziger, author of 1215
Captivatingly written and eye-openingly informative, The Greatest Knight is every bit as full of adventure, political intrigue, and personal drama as Wolf Hall. But it’s no novel: it’s a first-rate history told by a master of the craft. Read this book, and you’ll never forget the name William Marshal—nor will you ever think of the Middle Ages in the same way again.
Toby Lester, author of The Fourth Part of the World (2009) and Da Vinci’s Ghost (2012)