Bernard Cornwell, the "master of martial fiction" (Booklist), brings Thomas of Hookton from the popular Grail Quest series into a new adventure in 1356, a thrilling stand-alone novel. On September 19, 1356, a heavily outnumbered English army faced off against the French in the historic Battle of Poitiers.
In 1356, Cornwell resurrects this dramatic and bloody struggle - one that would turn out to be the most decisive and improbable victory of the Hundred Years' War, a clash where the underdog English not only the captured the strategic site of Poitiers, but the French King John II as well.
In the vein of Cornwell's best-selling Agincourt, 1356 is an action-packed story of danger and conquest, rich with military strategy and remarkable characters - both villainous and heroic - transporting readers to the front lines of war while painting a vivid picture of courage, treachery, and combat.
©2012 Bernard Cornwell (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
Overall, I loved this book. The narration was clear and distinct, and the story was well told. About my only dismay was when I realized that this actually the fourth book of the Grail Quest series, and then I was seriously annoyed to find that books 1-3 are only available as abridged versions.
I honestly don't know why publishers waste their time or effort with abridged versions, I personally won't waste time or money on abridged versions.
Maybe someday someone at Audible will realize that there is a HUGE market for unabridged books.
Thomas of Hookton continues his battle against Christian relics. As you listen to the battle scenes you may have to duck to avoid the splatter of blood flying. A quite excellent tale of dastardly Royals, Clerics and varlets and god awful justice handed out. I am still trying to decide if I like this better than the Sharpe sagas. Well worth the credit and maybe even another.
Before I review the novel, let me write something about Jack Hawkins. I don't know how many people check the "sample" audio before they decide to purchase a book, but in this case don't be fooled by the short sample. It reflects nothing of the magnificent voices of Jack Hawkins. I know the term has been used many times, but he truly brings the Cornwell characters to life. I wish he had narrated all the author's books.
"1356" despite its blood and gore, is an incredible story with Thomas of Hookton, a leader of a group of mercenary archers, "the Hellequin" as its central character. This book culminates in the Battle of Poitiers, a rather unknown English victory is the 100 years war. But it is more than a tale of war; it is a tale of love between husband and wife (Thomas and Genevieve), a tale of hate between the Count of Labrouillade, a disgusting specimen of a man and his wife who sensibly runs off with another man, and it is a tale of a demonic priest, an ambitious cardinal and other corrupted and corruptible churchmen. It is also a quest story, this time for the sword that St Peter used to cut off the ear of an enemy. In fact, for those following Cornwell's quest novels, this is the fifth.
I highly recommend this book/
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I've always been a fan of Cornwell's medieval novels and this is the first one that I have had the pleasure of enjoying as an audiobook. The story is great and Jack Hawkin's narration is first class. Can't wait for the next installment.
1356 is a mix of the Grail Series that featured Thomas of Hookton and Agincourt. Both books ended with a battle where the outnumbered English army defeats a seemingly unbeatable French army outside a small town in France.
In the process, Thomas seeks the sword of Peter, rescures a captured woman; defeats a foe out to destroy him personally; and gets around to playing a key role in winning the battle.
Instead of seeking the Holy Grail, in this book, Thomas seeks the Sword of Peter. There was a belief back in the Middle Ages that a Holy Relic contained great power and the person who owned the relic would be able to use that relic's power for their own personal benefit. Therefore, the owner of the Sword of Peter (the one used to cut off the ear of the slave when Jesus was captured by the Romans) would be unbeatable in battle.
Each of Bernard Cornwell's series have a unique flavor. Their hero is a current or past military figure with his own strengths and weaknesses. That hero must learn to think of others beyond himself. That hero has a foe who personally dislikes him and decides to kill him. Cornwell does a great job is revealing the hero and making him likable without making him unbelievable.
I am a big fan of Cornwell and enjoyed this book. The format is more in keeping with the Grail Series that feaures Thomas and the book would seem to be #4 in the series.
If you like English history with a definite military flavor, you will enjoy this book. And the ending regarding the destiny of the sword was most unique and creative.
I was not sure I would like this book since it's not my usual genre, but the story seemed to have so many facets, that I was willing to take a chance. Especially since the last 4 or 5 books I downloaded were adequate at best. The narrator is the best I have ever heard. His tone is smooth and voice changes for different characters is unique and makes it much easier to follow this incredible and exciting story. I didn't want the 11 hours to be over and was constantly surprised and amazed at the detail and touching stories of each characters life that the author had a never ending supply of. You would feel like you were at the edge of story being told watching it unfold. I can't wait to see what other fabulous books this author has and I hope he uses the same narrator for all of them.
I have always enjoyed Mr. Cornwell's books. I went through the Sharpe's series and wanted to tell him"more". I read all of those and was thoroughly pleased. I have some series I read and some on audible. I don't know why I purchased Agincourt and 1356 on audible but I couldn't be more pleased. Having a teen who thinks the most mundane is " awesome" I hesitate to use superlatives. The narrator made a wonderful story wonderous. If you enjoy Cornwell and historical fiction then this is well worth the listen.
Being drawn into the ambiance of 14th century war and intrigue.
The scene with Thomas, the fresco painter, the cardinal and the priest in the chapel was hilarious.
Almost just right
Hawkins is great, however he repeatedly irritates with a two of my pet peeves: the pronunciation of "all" as "auwlll" (it's amaziing how many words have that ending) and pronouncing the word, "vuLnerable" as "vuNNerable."
First off, I am a huge Bernard Cornwell fan. I have read/listened to all the Sharpe books, the Copperhead books, Winter King series, and many others. But for some reason 1356 seemed uninspired, especially compared with Agincourt, which I just re-listened to in anticipation of this book. Very similar eras, but character development, social history, and a compelling storyline all seemed better in Agincourt. And the narrator for 1356 didn't seem well suited to the role. His English accent was nice, but he sounded congested much of the time and I had a hard time distinguishing between the characters.
Bottom line - if you like the Grail Quest series and want to see how Thomas of Hookton has progressed, you should give it a listen. Looking for a great medieval historical novel? Check out Agincourt and give 1356 a pass.
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