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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic book!

5th book i've read/listened by Mr Cornwell. This is superb!! Cant wait to get to the rest of the series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A Masterful Tale Told by a Truly Gifted Narrator

Where does The Archer's Tale rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

What other book might you compare The Archer's Tale to and why?

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.

Which character – as performed by Andrew Cullum – was your favorite?

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.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The Grail. A Quest. And a War.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Great Historical Fiction!

Bernard Cornwell detail to historical accuracy sets him apart from other authors! I am looking forward to more of his work!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great novel as expected!

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!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Simply outstanding

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Well written, great characters. fascinating

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Well researched

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!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Virginia
  • 03-29-18

Excellent Story

Keeps a listener engaged throughout. Read the book 10 years ago and had the same attraction The voice gave real color to the characters and superbly enhanced an otherwise great story.

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What, that was 15 hrs?

Wonderful storytelling. A pleasurable and very entertaining way to learn of history. Bernard Cornwell knocks it out of the park again.

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Riveting "Action" but Shy on Character

The story started well, but then it slumped until the final act. Lots of casual brutality here, and while there's a character arc, it's really drawn out in favor of "action" sequences. The author seems to be banking on his foreknowledge that he's got the rest of a series to have a proper character arc, and that's fine if you're aboard for the long haul. I found it a little too lacking in this regard. Like our protagonist Thomas refusing the quest over and over and over, I think our author was content to put off the foreshadowed character arc for another day even when there was good and sufficient reason to begin it sooner.

To readers saying, "No, you're wrong! You didn't understand that Thomas' arc in this book was just about losing his immature narrow-mindedness and stubborn arrogance!" One, the fact that I could say that it is indeed "just" about that is basically where my statement about there being too little there is coming from. Two, Thomas' arrogance isn't that monumental of a failing to overcome in that it's shown to serve him well more often than it gets him in trouble while references to the Wheel of Fourtune shift responsibility off of our charcters for the consequences of their actions. So, in response, I say, "Yes, I did notice that. I'm saying it was underwhelming."