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Medieval Historical Fiction Novel of the Week

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William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, KnightChampion by L. Christian Balling

Hardcover – 309 pages
Publisher – Atlantic Monthly Pr; 1st ed edition (June 1988)

Editorial Review from Publishers Weekly

The charismatic figure of William Marshal, an English soldier of fortune, has inspired epics ever since his death in the early 13th century. Balling (The Fourth Shot, Mallory’s Gambit) sketches in Marshal’s young exploits against the Saracens as a Templar in the Holy Land and then dwells on his hero’s defense and romantic pursuit of Irish heiress Isabelle de Clare when he was in his 40s and she was 18. Among other historic personalities are squire Jean d’Erly, Marshal’s first biographer; deft politician Eleanor of Aquitaine;, her wheezing old husband Henry II; and their vicious, scheming son John. When John, as Isabelle’s guardian, threatens her with rape and the seizure of her castle, Marshal rides to the rescue. But vengeful John then sets in motion a complicated maneuver involving Marshal’s old enemy, the Templars’ok Grand Master Gerard de Ridefort and King Philip of France. Balling’s research is thorough, especially regarding political machinations, armor, weaponry, horsemanship and battle scenes, but chunky textbook exposition mars the novelistic mood, especially when it comes to relationships between the sexes. Champion will nonetheless please readers with an interest in the period.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Editorial Review from Library Journal:

Recently returned to England from fighting with the Knights Templars in the Holy Land, Sir William Marshall travels to Pembroke Castle, where he discovers the Lady Isabelle de Clare besieged by the hostile forces of John, deceitful brother of Richard the Lionheart. Marshall saves the castle through single combat, champions the lady’s cause before King Henry II and the exiled Queen Eleanor, and remains at Henry’s side to fight in the aging king’s final offensive against Phillip of France. Here is a fresh retelling of a slice of medieval history, its careful depiction of the code chivalry and of political intrigue softened by the love interest between Marshall and the Lady Isabelle. Joan Hinkemeyer, Englewood P.L., Col.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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