Templar Silks – Elizabeth Chadwick

Chadwick, one of our best historical novelists, has long been fascinated by “the greatest knight” William Marshall.

In two full-blooded insert before sagas she chronicled the life of this nobleman who served a dynasty of medieval kings with loyalty and dignity.

Specialising in the turbulent 11th century, she went on to write engrossing novels about other members of Marshall the marshal’s family.

You would think there was no aspect of Marshall’s life to write about, but the author found a short period of the knight’s life that she glossed over first time round because little about it exists in the historical record.

That’s the year or so that Marshall and his entourage spent on crusade in the Holy Land, before he settled down and met the love of his life Isabella.

Chadwick has given full-rein to her imagination, creating a new adventure for her hero while ensuring it dovetails with the real-life happenings at the time in Jerusalem.

Marshall is a young, rather naive nobleman thrust into the maelstrom of Middle East politics and warfare, where there is as much conflict within the Royal Court as there is out in the desert against Saracens.

Seeking absolution for a sin forced on him by his loyalty to the Young King back in England, he encounters an old enemy and the chance of new romance.

Templar Silks is a good enough story, and like all Chadwick novels enjoyable, but there was something missing in this tale.

Maybe it’s because I knew the central love story couldn’t end happily, or perhaps it’s because I couldn’t quite believe William Marshall - one of history’s greatest good guys – could fall so far.

David Knights