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Grail Quest Harlequin Paperback – Aug 27 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Uk General Books (Aug. 27 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006513840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006513841
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.1 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,119,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The young archer Thomas of Hookton joins the forces of King Edward III to fight against France in Cornwell's latest, which takes place in the mid-14th century at the beginning of the Hundred Years War. Thomas, a brilliant, handsome warrior who combines physical strength and skill with the bow, survives the pillaging of his village to become an archer and then rescues a female counterpart known as the Blackbird after she's nearly raped by Sir Simon Jekyll during one of the troop's raids in France. The nobleman becomes Thomas's chief rival as Jekyll continues to pursue the Blackbird, and Thomas is finally cast out of his unit after failing to kill Jekyll in an ill-conceived assassination attempt. He recovers to join and couple with the Blackbird, making his way through France and parlaying his skills into a royal pardon even as his opportunistic partner leaves him for the libidinous Prince of Wales. The three members of Cornwell's romantic triangle eventually meet during a huge climactic battle at Cr‚cy, where Thomas must face up to a demanding family legacy involving a quest for a special lance. Cornwell has been down this path many times before, and he's a consummate pro when it comes to plying the tried-and-true combination of heroic characters; a fast-moving, action-packed plot; and enough twists and turns to keep the narrative from lapsing into formula. He uses his historical expertise judiciously as well. This book mark the beginning of a promising new series that brings an intriguing period to life. (Oct. 9)Forecast: Cornwell, the author of the Richard Sharpe series, set during the Napoleonic Wars, has a strong and growing U.S. fan base. The Archer's Tale, already a bestseller in Britain, should strengthen his hold on the Patrick O'Brian crowd.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Already a best seller in England under the title Harlequin, this novel is the opening salvo of a new series by the author of the well-known Richard Sharpe books (e.g., Sharpe's Trafalgar). Set in the early 1400s at the beginning of the Hundred Years War between England and France, this novel depicts one of the most bloody and violent periods in the history of conflict between these two nations. After the theft of the treasure of Hookton, a broken lance thought to have been the weapon St. George used to slay the dragon, young Thomas, the bastard son of the village priest and a skilled longbowman, joins the English army in hopes of recovering the relic. Instead, he finds himself caught up in the invasion of France. Cornwell has crafted an extremely well-written novel, grounded in actual historic events. As in the Sharpe books, Cornwell's battle scenes are particularly memorable. This series, however, promises to be a bit meatier. More attention is paid to fascinating secondary characters and the roles they play in the political, religious, and social arenas of the time. Highly recommended.
- Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bernard Cornwell (the Richard Sharpe series, the Starbuck series) is a master of historical fiction, and "The Archer's Tale" is his first foray into the early years of the Hundred Years War between England and France.
"The Archer's Tale" opens with a horrifyingly brutish assault by the French on the small village of Hookton, which protects a mighty relic through its tiny size and complete lack of importance. The relic, the black lance used by St. George to slay the Dragon, is seized by the Harlequin, and the town razed. The Harlequin also kills his uncle, an old priest with a murky past. Cornwell's description of the destruction and rape of Hookton is masterful in its economy and its clarity -- this book quickly establishes that it is not for the squeamish!
Thomas, the archer, escapes the sack of Hookton through his mastery of the bow, which is the dominant military weapon of the era (the late 1300's). Contrary to common perception, archers were not the small wimps who hung out in the rear while the mighty swordsmen and cavalry fought the battles. An archer was fantastically strong owing to years of stringing their mighty bows, and Thomas is an archer's archer. He vows revenge on the man who has brought destruction to Hookton.
Possessing more lives than a cat, Thomas journeys to France and plays a crucial role in the sack of a French village. Earning the respect, love, or hatred of those whom he encounters (he inspires strong feelings, does our Thomas), Thomas uses his wits, his skill with a bow, a good head for warfare, and just plain blind luck to journey from battle to battle, from siege to siege.
Cornwell brings the Middle Ages alive with his vivid descriptions of life in small villages as well as his depiction of the mighty French city of Caen.
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Format: Hardcover
Bernard Cornwell is best known for his Sharpe's Rifles series, covering Wellington's Peninsula Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars; and expanding to a prequel series about the creation of the British Raj in India. He has also looked into the American Civil War (The Starbuck Chronicles), the American Revolution (Redcoat), Arthurian legend (The Warlord Series), and the dawn of British history (Stonehenge). All are well written, although the American books fall far short of the British ones. Cornwell's latest is British again, and is up to his standards.
Thomas of Hookton is the illegitimate, but acknowledged son of the very unusual village priest in the seaside hamlet of Hookton. Everyone assumes that the priest is of noble birth, and at least a little crazy. He even has books! Which he reads! He intends Thomas for the clergy as well, and Thomas already has one year at Oxford. Thomas's real love, however, is archery. He is a master of that strange, new, and uniquely British weapon, the longbow. French pirates, commanded by a mysterious character who gives his name as "Harlequin, attack Hookton on Easter morning, kill the priest, steal the precious holy relic displayed at the church, and start Thomas off on his adventure.
When the pirates attack, Thomas goes for his longbow, and mounts the only defense of the village; but it is too little, too late. Thomas finds his father dying and learns that "Harlequin" is actually his cousin and that the holy relic in the church is a mystic family heirloom which his father stole from his family when he fell out with them. But his father does not tell him his family name before he dies.
With nothing left in Hookton, Thomas goes to the wars, enlisting as a common bowman.
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Format: Hardcover
This violent, action-packed adventure is the first installment in what looks to be Bernard Cornwell's new Richard Sharpe-type series. Though the Sharpe series is fairly well known and very easy to find, I cannot claim to have read any of those books, and so cannot make any comparisons. This is, in fact, the first Cornwell book I've ever read. I had hoped to be introduced to this author through his novel, STONEHENGE, as it had me somewhat intrigued, but alas that was not to be my fate. I'd already had THE ARCHER'S TALE in my possession, and so I went to reading it. Now, more than a few months since having finished it, I very well suspect it was a poor choice to begin on.
This story is set in England and France during the 14th century, the early beginnings of the Hundred Years War. The hero is Thomas of Hookton, bastard son of an expatriate French nobleman living in a small village along the southern coast of England. After that village is brutally attacked by French invaders and all its inhabitants, save Thomas, are killed, Thomas enlists himself as an archer in the English army of Edward III.
In his quest to recover the lance of St. George, a sacred relic stolen from Hookton's church during the attack, Thomas refines his skills in archery and battle strategy. Throughout the story, it is in fact he who conceives key attack maneuvers that gain the English under the Earl of Northampton their victories, culminating finally with the famous battle at Crecy. Along the way, he rescues a widowed French countess from wolfish English soldiers sacking her village. He nurses her through trauma and, for a while, she becomes his cohort.
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