NEW FICTION, by Geoffrey Wansell
Fri 18 Oct 2002
Fans of Bernard Cornwell will need no encouragement to rush out and buy this eagerly awaited follow up to his best-selling Harlequin. Like its predecossor it charts the exploits of Thomas of Hookton, archer and adventurer, in 14th century England and France. In the first book Thomas discovered that his family’s destiny seemed to be to track down Christendom’s greatest relic – the Holy Grail. And this second episode continues the saga of the ‘Grail Quest’ in Cornwell’s best swashbuckling style. Starting with the battle of Neville’s Cross in October 1346, it never lets up for an instant. You can almost feel the whirr of the arrows’ flights from Thomas’s quiver as you turn the page. Likeable, loyal and determined, Thomas is a splendidly old-fashioned hero, a good man who expects the best of everyone: but is often disappointed. Amidst a wonderful cast of kings, monks, cardinals and mercenaries – Thomas finally confronts a magnificent villain, in the shape of his cousin Guy Vexille, Count of Astarac. Crackling with good deeds, fine characters and sparkling set pieces, it confirms yet again Cornwell’s reputation for masterly historical novels.