Go with God and fight like the Devil.
A fascinating hero, the pursuit of a sword of mythical power, and one of England’s greatest and least known battles: the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. This is a remarkable novel by Britain’s master storyteller.
Thomas of Hookton, a veteran of Crecy and many other battles, is the leader of a mercenary company of bowmen and men-at-arms who ravage the countryside east of Gascony. Edward, Prince of Wales, later to be known as the Black Prince, is assembling an army to fight the French once more, but before Thomas can join, he must fulfil an urgent task. La Malice, a sword of mythical power guaranteeing victory to its owner, is thought to be concealed somewhere near Poitiers.
With signs that a battle between the English and the French is looming, others are seeking the treasure too, and some - French, Scots, and even English - are pursuing their private agendas against Thomas. But all - Thomas of Hookton, his enemies and friends, and the fate of La Malice - become swept up in the extraordinary confrontation that follows, as the large French army faces the heavily outnumbered English in battle.
©2012 Bernard Cornwell (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
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I would start by saying that I initially fell in love with Thomas of Hookton a long time ago, when he was a Heretic, and although I still love this older version of Thomas I didn't find the story quite as exciting. However, of course the amazing Bernard Cornwell has written beautifully and Jack Hawkins has done a cracking job narrating the story. I would have to suggest the reader/listener make their own decision on whether to take up this story and maybe if you are making this your first story starring Thomas of Hookton - which could be a stand alone story - you might want to, at some stage, either before or after, read the Grail Quest trilogy.
"Cornwell on form: action, pace and good history."
This is a great continuation of the "Grail Trilogy" but can be enjoyed on its own. The central characters are embroiled in a new adventure but with the same mix of corrupt churchmen, scheming, stupid and dangerous nobles and savage violence. In such a landscape, honour is an elusive concept and fragile in the face of fear and temptation.
Much of the power and attraction of the novel rests in the detail. Knights in full armour wetting and fouling themselves in fear, the art and savagery of combat, the realities and struggle of domestic survival, are woven into the tale and stand comparison with any academic, historical text.
Real, vital, convincing and gripping: it's a great tale and well narrated.
"A bloody time to live"
I enjoyed this book very much, hope its not the finish of Thomas, Still we still have the Saxon Chronicles to look forward to.
"Great book, but the reading..."
Bernard Cornwell at full power. One gets swept along by the action, the historical detail, the characters. But it was only because of this that I finished listening. Jack Hawkins' choice for the narrative voice is a monotone. He has no feeling for the shape of a phrase, no concept of the cadence of a sentence, and zero feeling for words. Hejustreads and when it gets exciting hejustreadsfaster. His characters are not too bad, and I quite enjoyed his cartoon French, good Scottish and Irish. But oh, the drone. And the poor diction. And the mangewld English. I hope Mr Cornwell doesn't hear what has happened to his brightly imagined account of events leading to the battle of Poitiers.
"The archer goes on."
This is a continuation of the Thomas Hookton series, if you have not read the series I strongly suggest that you start from the beginning as you will get a far better understanding of the story.
That said this is a complete story within the book and follows what I think is an excellent story line.
Bernard Cornwell sometimes loses the thread and continues a series one book to far. This is not the case with the archer series and I believe a few more books are still in this collection.
"Thomas of Hookton defeated by HarperCollins"
The story of Thomas of Hookton continues as his reputation, wealth and power increase. The story is a wonderfully fast paced tale of adventure laced with fascinating historical detail. Mr Cornwell does not disappoint with this episode in the life of Thomas of Hookton... However the telling of the story was a huge disappointment after the three earlier Grail Quest Books read by Tim Pigott-Smith. The reading seemed flat and disinterested with many irritating repeated mispronunciations. At times character voices became confused with many seeming poorly thought out altogether. I'm sure Jack Hawkins is capable of better and feel he was probably let down by the production team who appear not to have listened to what he was recording. Not HarperCollins Publishers Limited finest hour! The book deserves a full five stars and on reflection I wish I'd downloaded the kindle edition and read it myself.
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