Vagabond (Grail Quest Series #2)

Vagabond (Grail Quest Series #2)

3.9 157
by Bernard Cornwell

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From internationally bestselling author Bernard Cornwell comes the eagerly anticipated sequel in his acclaimed Grail Quest series, in which a young archer sets out to avenge his family's honor on the battlefields of the Hundred Years' War and winds up on a quest for the Holy Grail.

1347: a year of war and unrest. England's army is fighting in France, and its

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From internationally bestselling author Bernard Cornwell comes the eagerly anticipated sequel in his acclaimed Grail Quest series, in which a young archer sets out to avenge his family's honor on the battlefields of the Hundred Years' War and winds up on a quest for the Holy Grail.

1347: a year of war and unrest. England's army is fighting in France, and its absence encourages the Scots to invade the old enemy. Thomas of Hookton, sent back to England to follow an ancient trail that suggests his family once owned the Holy Grail, instead becomes embroiled in the savage fight when the Scots come to Durham. Out of the horror he finds a new companion for the quest but also discovers a new and sinister enemy in a Dominican Inquisitor.

All Europe wants the grail. Many may doubt it even exists, but no one would willingly allow an enemy to find Christendom's most precious relic, and Thomas finds himself in a murderous race with the Inquisitor and with Guy de Vexille, the mysterious black rider who murdered Thomas's father (in The Archer's Tale).

Thomas appears to have an advantage in the race. His father bequeathed him a mysterious notebook that confirms the grail's existence and offers clues to where the relic might be hidden. But his rivals, inspired by a fanatical religious fervor, have their own advantage—the torture chamber of the Inquisition. Thomas, seeking help to decipher the book's cryptic pages, is delivered instead to his worst enemies.

He finds refuge in Brittany, with Jeanette, the Countess of Armorica, but fate will not let him rest. He is thrust into one of the bloodiest and most desperate fights of the Hundred Years' War, the Battle of la Roche-Derrien, and amid the flames, arrows, and butchery of that night, he faces his enemies again.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Hundred Years War is the bloody backdrop to this second volume of Cornwell's new series about the search for the Holy Grail (after The Archer's Tale). Like its predecessor, the novel follows Thomas of Hookton, an archer in the English army in the 14th century. Thomas is the bastard son of a recently murdered priest whose family claims it once possessed the Holy Grail. No one is certain the Holy Grail actually exists, but many believe it does, and kings are waging war and committing murder in the search for it. Thomas has a book of his father's, written in Latin and Hebrew, which might reveal clues to the Grail's location, if only he could make head or tails of it. But others are aware of the book's existence, and Thomas's motley enemies and rivals-including Guy Vexille, the French cousin who murdered his father; Bernard de Taillebourg, a Dominican Inquisitor who loves his job; and Sir Geoffrey Carr, a treacherous English knight-are all hot on his trail. The beleaguered young hero must also fight mercenaries, Scots and Frenchmen in gruesome, long-drawn-out battles. Cornwell is meticulous about historical facts and period detail, and his descriptions of butchery with arrow, mace and battleaxe are nothing if not convincing. As expected, the book culminates with battlefield slaughter on an epic scale. Cornwell fans will eat this up. (Dec. 1) Forecast: Cornwell's Richard Sharpe novels are justly popular, and this new series looks headed for similar success, backed by a strong marketing campaign. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Another typically excellent Cornwell work, this novel is filled with action, adventure, rich historical atmosphere, and a hero who constantly finds himself in deeper and deeper trouble. Thomas, the quintessential doubting hero, is on a quest to discover whether his father ever truly possessed the Holy Grail, and if so, where this object now lies. The sequel to Archer's Tale (HarperCollins, 2001) carries Thomas from Scotland across England and eventually into France, as he pursues and is pursued by one enemy after another. Readers expecting more of what this author does so well will not be disappointed, and even those who have never before read one of his tales will find it easy to become immersed in the story. The characters are well drawn if shallow, but they are mature adults, without any of the typical traits that a young adult might find appealing. There is no romantic story here, simply a gritty, sometimes horrific tale of human greed, pride, and stupidity, told in realistic detail, including murder and torture. The novel is a good choice for collections in which historical fiction or Cornwell himself is already popular, or for sharing with that particular teen reader who is ready to make the transition to adult reading. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2002, HarperCollins, 405p,
— Gillian Wiseman
Library Journal
In this sequel to The Archer's Tale, gifted archer Thomas of Hookton continues his quest to avenge his father's murder and to find the Holy Grail, which King Edward III believes will help England defeat the French. Thomas finds himself embroiled in a series of events beginning with the Battle of Neville's Cross (October 1346) and ending with the English victory at La Roche-Derrien (spring 1347). Accomplished historical novelist Cornwell, creator of the "Richard Sharpe" and "Nathaniel Starbuck" series, delivers plenty of action. From English and French battlefields to the high seas and the Inquisitor's torture chamber, we follow Thomas as he defends his king, pursues his enemies, and seeks the truth of the Grail. With its wealth of likable characters and historical detail, this enjoyable, fast-paced novel will probably generate renewed interest in the Grail and the Hundred Years' War. Highly recommended for most public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/02.]-Jean Langlais, St. Charles P.L., IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Continuing the series that began with The Archer's Tale (2001), adventure master Cornwell throws his lusty young hero Thomas of Hookton up against both the French and the Inquisition. Opening with a fine small battle on the Scottish border, Cornwell continues his historically based, wildly entertaining trek through the Hundred Years War, a tale that hangs on the adventures of a superb English bowman at a time when English longbows pretty much ruled the battlefield. Thomas, last seen at the battle of Crecy, has trudged up north with orders from Edward Plantagenet to see a monk in Durham about a legend. The legend is The Grail, and Thomas is involved because his priestly father Ralph de Vexille, a French fugitive, left him a multilingual diary full of references to the sacred vessel. The Vexilles believed they had possession of the cup, and the diary may lead to its recovery. Oxford dropout Thomas can read his father's Latin and a bit of the Greek, but the Hebrew's got him stumped. Marching with the lad are his pregnant sweetheart and a kindly monk, both doomed to die at the hands of the divinely sinister Dominican inquisitor Bernard de Taillebourg, who, with his dark and moody servant Guy de Trexille (Thomas's psychotic cousin), lusts after the diary. Before Thomas can get his answers he's roped into an English skirmish with raiding Scots. Encouraged by their French allies, the savage northerners have massed in huge numbers, but their drums and battle-axes are no match for the handful of archers Tom joins. Thomas makes an enemy of a nasty bankrupt knight and poor Eleanor falls victim to the sadistic de Taillebourg, but Thomas survives to continue his quest for the grail accompanied bycheerful prisoner Robbie Douglas. Their travels, always just a few steps ahead of the damned Dominican and the jealous Sir Geoffrey, take them to Brittany, scene of earlier romance, where the English have a tenuous toehold and where de Taillebourg has equally perfidious allies. There will be torture, siege, and treachery. Historically accurate and huge fun. Vintage Cornwell.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Grail Quest Series , #2
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