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Publisher's Summary

The first book in Bernard Cornwell's bestselling 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.

©2000 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"Crackling with good deeds, fine characters and sparkling set pieces, it confirms yet again Cornwell's reputation for masterly historical novels" ( Daily Mail)
"It is all spectacular, rattling good stuff: war and torture; love, lust and loss" ( The Times)
"The battle scenes, as always, are masterful; and the vignettes of everyday living, in times of extreme hardship, have the ring of simple truth" ( Sunday Telegraph)
"A very fine writer" ( Economist)

What listeners say about Harlequin

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Give it a miss

Usually a book has a hero or heroine. I was up to chapter 10, and waiting for either to appear, but nothing. The story takes you to the opposite side of goodies, this is the story of the baddies. They rape, pillage, murder, and steal. It is not a book that you can look forward to at the end of the day, or read before sleeping. For this reason I chose to stop reading, so therefore, I must admit that to be fair to the author, I erg readers who buy this book to try and finish it. It was not what I wanted.

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pathetic narration

why the narrator of the first 4 books was changed out for this new one is a mistake...i couldn't get past the first chapter.
The new narrator is horrid to listen to and ruined the story. I was thoroughly enjoying this series and listened to the first 4 books within 2 weeks...but it seems i won't be finishing the series.

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A GREAT READ

Cornwall at his best!. The story is action packed and enthralling.The narrationwas very good also.

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A great start to the series

War, women and wounds expertly woven around historical events which seems the specialism at which Bernard Cornwall excels. This book culminates at Crecy. I'm looking forward to embarking on the second leg of this journey with our main character l, Thomas.

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Excellent historical novel well narrated

Imparts a thorough experience as if the author almost lived the experience with along with a hint of national pride weaved into the experience

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  • Lucas Ribeiro de Araujo
  • 05-08-2021

No emotions

I loved the narration for the most part, but it is really lacking on emotional moments :/

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  • Daniel
  • 04-08-2019

good but not memorable

As usual, Cornwell does an outstanding job when describing battles, and this book is filled with these exciting and highly detailed chapters. However, the plotline struggles to develop in a rewarding way for the reader. By the end of the book I was left with the feeling that the main characters had not accomplished much. Having just finished listening to the Warlord Chronicles, I'd say the Harlequin is good, but not memorable.

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  • joamir junior
  • 16-06-2016

Great narration, with greater narrative!

Loved the book and the narration is amazing, really immersive.
Anxious to read the next one!

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  • Audible customer
  • 16-02-2015

A great story.

Having previously read this book I was a little dubious about having it as a audible book, but it was brilliant
the narration was brilliantly done, bringing the story to life.
Well worth the investment if you love this period of History.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Jo Crofts
  • 02-08-2020

Awful narration

I had to give a poor review of this.
My first Audible book and what a disappointment! The narration is literally the most forced, unnatural I have ever heard. It has made what I’m sure is a fantastic story un-listenable. The expression is robotic! Just awful!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-08-2018

Brilliant

Excellent book brought to life by a superb performance. Definitely a must buy for any fan of historical fiction based in fact

3 people found this helpful

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  • B Gillingham
  • 26-07-2018

A five star listen to as usual

Really enjoyed found hard to pùt, down wanted to know what happened next
Read really well read felt as though I was there

Can't wait to listen to next book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 27-09-2017

Excellent period story

Loved the blend of history and story really drew my interest into this period of history.

3 people found this helpful

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  • RJB1
  • 27-06-2014

Harlequin

Any additional comments?

Another good book from Bernard Cornwall, putting you into medieval England and France as an English Longbowman. The best thing about Cornwall are his battle scenes, in which Harlequin does not disappoint. He manages to put you right in the thick of the action, while also giving you a global picture of what is happening across the battlefield at the same time.

The narration is not the best but it was never bad enough to take me out of the story.

Also, I found some of the characters a bit thin compared to the well thought out characters in his later books, such as The Saxon Stories. This is why I dropped a star for the story. But if you have enjoyed other Cornwall books, I recommend you try this one.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 23-10-2014

Another Cornwell Corker!

I only really discovered this author through audiobooks. His ability to develop genuine characters amidst the bloody violence of historical military campaigns is second to none. The sweeping battle scenes which are epic in nature are augmented with black, almost gallows humour and enough historical accuracy to satisfy most. I commend Cornwell for the fact that he dutifully sums up the history and where he has deviated from it in notes at the end of his books. Additionally providing other recommended reading for those interested in finding out more. If you like well-paced, bloodthirsty history books written with intelligence and panache then Cornwell is your guy and this isn't a bad place to start exploring his work.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Dr
  • 06-04-2016

Outstanding

Loved the story
Beautiful narration very believable and compelling
I will be getting more of the same

4 people found this helpful

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  • Richard M.
  • 04-06-2021

Enjoyable and respectable holiday listen

I very much enjoy this type of 'history brought to life' story-telling and look forward to no doubt more of the same exemplary male lead characters and slightly contrived female characters from Bernard.

By the end I grew *slightly* tired by the narration. I am not sure Andrew is a perfect fit for this type of action. I found Jeanette's character portrayal so bad that I dreaded her lines, and the monotone battle cries did not have me in the heart of the action.

Still, I could always stop being a lazy sod and read it myself...

1 person found this helpful

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  • paulen
  • 23-04-2021

Poor narration

Cornwell as ever delivered an excellent story but what on earth possessed him to have it narrated in such a staccato fashion. The story was delivered in Such a way that all continuity appear to me to be lost a great pity.

1 person found this helpful

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