Heretic (Grail Quest Series #3)

Heretic (Grail Quest Series #3)

4.4 77
by Bernard Cornwell, Tim Pigott-smith

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Thomas of Hookton is a seasoned veteran of King Edward's army and a natural leader in what will be remembered as the Hundred Years' War. Accompanied by a small but able band of soldiers, Thomas is sent to Gascony to capture the castle of Astarac. But he has ulterior motives for accepting the charge: Gascony is the home of the black knight — Guy de Vexille

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Thomas of Hookton is a seasoned veteran of King Edward's army and a natural leader in what will be remembered as the Hundred Years' War. Accompanied by a small but able band of soldiers, Thomas is sent to Gascony to capture the castle of Astarac. But he has ulterior motives for accepting the charge: Gascony is the home of the black knight — Guy de Vexille — who brutally slaughtered his father. It is also reputed to be the place where the Grail was last seen.

While capturing Astarac, Thomas learns of a tragedy in the making: a beautiful young woman named Genevieve, innocent if not pious, is to be burned as a heretic. Thomas prevents the corrupt local priest from carrying out his "God — given" duty — a sacrilege that turns him into an outcast, even among his own men. Eventually he and Genevieve have no choice but to flee. While hidden away at a monastery, they learn of a plot involving the creation of an imitation Grail for a diabolical end; and they witness the murder of a trusted priest at the hands of Guy de Vexille.

At last reconciled with his allies, Thomas leads his brave band in a bloody battle to the death, the outcome of which could determine the seat of power — and the direction of Christendom — forevermore.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cornwell is a master of the historical action novel, and he outdoes himself again with this gripping third volume in his Grail Quest series, set during the bloody Hundred Years' War (The Archer's Tale; Vagabond). For years, English archer Thomas of Hookton has been searching for the Holy Grail. Thomas is not certain it ever existed, but obscure clues link his family to the mysterious vessel. In 1347, driven by his desire to plumb the truth of the Grail as well as to earn money from the plunder of French lands and property, Thomas and a small group of soldiers capture a castle in Gascony, the homeland of Thomas's father. Thomas hopes to hold the castle against the French, raid the countryside for loot and draw the attention of his evil cousin Guy Vexille, a French nobleman who murdered Thomas's father and who may have information about the Grail. Vexille appears, but so does the army of a local lord, sent to besiege the castle, and the vicious brother of a treacherous and cunning bishop who is determined to secure the Grail. Fighting honorably amid extreme brutality, Thomas is aided by loyal English archers, English and French men-at-arms, local bandits, a Scottish mercenary and a heretic girl with unusual powers. Outnumbered by his enemies, he faces the might of a huge cannon and the power of the Church's greed-not to mention the dreaded Black Death. Most daunting of all, however, is the decision Thomas must make when he finally discovers the truth about the Holy Grail. Graphic battlefield action, strong characters and sharp plotting are Cornwell's trademarks, and his fans will love this latest melee. (Oct. 7) Forecast: The Grail Quest books sell even faster than Cornwell's popular Napoleonic War series, and this is the best in the series so far. Expect it to fly off shelves. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Cornwell's latest entry in the "Grail Quest" series (The Archer's Tale; Vagabond) opens in 1347, as Thomas, a talented archer, arrives in France in time to fight alongside the Earl of Northampton. With the Hundred Years War still raging, Thomas hopes that the earl will allow him to command Will Skeat's archers, but instead he wants Thomas to pursue the Holy Grail, directing him and the archers to Thomas's ancestral home of Astarac in Gascony, where the grail is now believed to be hidden. In Gascony, Thomas meets the beautiful heretic Genevieve, who, like Thomas, was tortured by church inquisitors. He saves her from death at the stake, boldly thwarting church ruling and thereby damaging his command, his friendships, and his search for the grail. Outcast and on the run, Thomas is once again challenged by his cousin and bitter enemy, Guy Vexille. Cornwell delivers intense and detailed battle action to illustrate just how mad men will be driven by the grail. Though at times the complex plot seems unwieldy, Heretic ultimately satisfies. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/03.]-Jean Langlais, St. Charles P.L., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Beset by the plague and those hellacious Dominican inquisitors, the sure-shot hero of Cornwell's Archer series (Vagabond, 2002, etc.) continues his eventful search for the Holy Grail. Armed with his own Weapon of Mass Destruction, the deadly English longbow Thomas Hookton, né (on the wrong side of the sheets) Vexille, has made it through the battle of Crecy and torture at the hands of a Dominican madman, comforted by a succession of equally tough and healthy young ladies, to arrive at last in the Languedoc, the southern French country where the Vexilles, before falling into the Cathar heresy, were lords of Astarac and where the few clues left by Thomas's father seem to lead to the holy relic. Accompanied by Robbie Douglas, the tough young Scot he rescued in Vagabond and by landless, one-eyed, Norman turncoat Sir Guillaume D'Evecque, and backed by his own posse of longbowmen, Thomas has seized the stronghold of Castillon d'Arbazon in order to lure his ruthless crypto-Cathar cousin Guy Vexille to the neighborhood. Guy and Thomas each believe the other holds the clues to the location of the Grail that everybody is sure the Vexilles held and hid. Everybody, that is, except the spectacularly cynical Cardinal Archbishop Louis Bessieres, who has imprisoned a gifted Parisian goldsmith and his doxy with orders to run up a state-of-the-art fake, which, once planted and then "discovered," will put the Cardinal in the papal throne at Avignon. There is, of course, a lovely lass for Tom in Castillon d'Arbazon. She's Genevieve, scheduled for burning by a creepy fanatic priest who decided, after some lustful torture, that she's a heretic. Lissome, blond, and a quick student of the crossbow, Genevieve,property of the devil though she may be, is just the gal for our archer, and together they take on the Cardinal, Guy, the local baron, and any number of Genoese crossbowmen, and, as the Black Plague arrives, get their hands on the box that leads to the cup of everyone's dreams. The usual Cornwell bull's-eye.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Grail Quest Series, #3
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.40(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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