The first book in Bernard Cornwell's best-selling Grail Quest series, in a bright and bold repackage.
The year is 1342. The English, led by Edward III, are laying waste to the French countryside. The army may be led by the King, but it is the archers, the common men, who are England's secret weapon. The French know them as Harlequins.
Thomas of Hookton is one of these archers. But he is also on a personal mission: To avenge his father's death and retrieve a stolen relic. Thomas begins a quest that will lead him through fields smeared with the smoke of fires set by the rampaging English, until at last the two armies face each other on a hillside near the village of Crécy.
©2008 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
I love Bernard Cornwell and have read this story a few times before, although it has been some years. I needed a book for a road trip and was delighted to find this title in unabridged form for the first time. It is magnificent. Cornwell is unequaled in medieval historical fiction, and this narrator pays it the honor it deserves with an amazing performance. I rate this as one of the top five audio books I've ever listened to.
Agincourt and 1356 by Bernard Cornwell. One of the greatest pleasures as a book lover is listening to a great book performed by an able narrator who can convey nuance and feeling, and through whom the listener can differentiate characters simply from the unique, consistent voices affected by the performer. All of these books are of this sort.
I would also compare to The Martian by Andy Weir or Daemon by Daniel Suarez. Each is a great story, great adventure, great narrator.
Too many to say. All are good, but a few that stand out because they are such fun characters are Will Skeet, Sam, Jake, Father Hobb, Jeanette, the Earl and, of course, Thomas of Hookton.
The Grail. A Quest. And a War.
Occasionally I come across a book that is so good that I have a hard time deciding if I want to continue reading it or put it down to extend the pleasure of reading it for another day. Bernard Cornwell's Agincourt was such a book and so is this.
The Archer's Tale tells the story of Thomas of Hookton, an Englishman who is driven from his small town by its destruction by a group of men looking for some hidden religious relics. He ends up as an archer in the Army of King Edward and most of the story tells the tale of the army's fight in what is now France trying to recover the English King's lands during what we know as the Hundred Years War. Thomas loves his life as an archer and must wrestle with his love of the army and his vow to recover The Lance of Saint George which was stolen from Hooton during the raid that drove him from the village.
Mr Cornwell is a master at character and story development and I found all of the main characters, both good and evil, to be interesting and believable and his description of life during the 1300s fascinating. The story leads to the battle of Crecy and the description of the battle, one of the most famous battles in history, is outstanding, even if a bit bloody. This is volume 1 in a set of four books of The Grail Quest. I planned to buy this book almost immediately after finished Agincourt but found when I selected The Grail Quest on the Audible website that only the first two volumes were actually available and I was unwilling to become involved in what I suspected would be a very interesting story without being able to complete the entire sequence. However the last two volumes, Heretic and 1356, although listed as not being available are, in fact, available although the volumes are not listed as part of the series and must be searched for individually. When I found them I immediately bought volumes 2 and 3.
My only complaint about this book relates to the narrator. Mr Collum has an unfortunate habit of pausing for a long time between a statement and the description of who made that statement. For example, "Where are you going when you leave here?" followed by a long pause and then "asked the monk". It can be quite annoying and would normally have caused me to drop a star from the book, but Mr Cornwell's writing is so flawless and his books so interesting that I could not bear to do so, even given the annoying narration.
It was an entertaining story, full of memorable and captivating characters. The narration is superb, making the story so vivid that is hard to stop listening. If you like history you will love this book. Is very well written.
Text Book Worm
Cornwell does his research like the best. You get a great story and know a little more history. Highly recommend all 4 books in this series!
I knew very little about this time in history, but feel I know quite a bit now. I enjoyed this audio book immensely. Great story, great detail, and great narration. I recommend it heartily.
The historical accuracy was spot on but the story dragged a bit. The narration was good but not as good as his other narrator.
I don't even know how to begin to describe what a fantastic voyage into history Bernard Cornwell takes us in this book. I am just grateful, after being depressed at the end of the Saxon wars (waiting for the fire bearer) I found another series as good!! It's better than 3-d while the shield wall was the war machine of the Saxon wars & impressive as hell....in this series it is English Archers most impressive & as deadly.
Only after reading a new book in this series I discovered that it was part of one. So here I am at the beginning of this saga. I found this book to be an excellent listen and have the next one ready to listen to. I always enjoy Bernard Cornwell's historical fiction- his writing style let's me see the characters in my mind as though I knew them personally.
'The Harlequin' did not disappoint, kept me interested enough to forgo going in the house on several occasions!!
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