Harlequin is the first in an epic new series, introducing a splendid hero, against the backdrop of Europe in the Hundred Years’ War. In the 14th century the English were just beginning to discover their national identity, and one of the strongest elements of this was the overwhelming success in battle of the English bowmen, where England’s archers crossed the Channel to lay a country to waste. Thomas of Hookton was one of those archers.
When his village is sacked by French raiders, Thomas escapes from his father’s ambition to become a wild youth who delights in the opportunities which war offers - for fighting, for revenge and for friendship. But Thomas is hounded by his conscience. He has made a promise to God to retrieve a relic stolen in the raid from Hookton’s church.
The search for the relic leads him into a world where lovers become enemies; enemies become friends; and always, somewhere beyond the horizon that is smeared with the smoke of fires set by the rampaging English army, a terrible enemy awaits him. That enemy would harness the power of Christendom’s greatest relic - the grail itself.
In this, the first book of a new series, Thomas begins the quest that will lead him through the fields of France, until at last the two armies face each other on a hillside near the village of Crécy.
©2009 Bernard Cornwell (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
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As a huge fan of Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles series, I was delighted to find that the grail series is also narrated by the brilliant Tim Pigott-Smith so gave it a try. Although I generally prefer stories set in an even earlier period (the Chronicles and the Saxon series), this was utterly brilliant and I'm now going to read the books as these audiobooks are abridgments.
Tim Pigott-Smith is by far my favourite voice-actor for books of this sort - he uses a wide variety of voices and gets the dramatic reading just right.
"Great story poorly told"
This is one of my favourite books but I'm afraid Tim Piggott Smith doesn't have the gravitas of say Jack Hawkins and as a consequence my mind kept drifting away
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