“The direct heir to Patrick O’Brian.”
The direct heir to Patrick O'Brian.
The young archer Thomas of Hookton joins the forces of King Edward III to fight against France in Cornwell's latest, which takes place in the mid-14th century at the beginning of the Hundred Years War. Thomas, a brilliant, handsome warrior who combines physical strength and skill with the bow, survives the pillaging of his village to become an archer and then rescues a female counterpart known as the Blackbird after she's nearly raped by Sir Simon Jekyll during one of the troop's raids in France. The nobleman becomes Thomas's chief rival as Jekyll continues to pursue the Blackbird, and Thomas is finally cast out of his unit after failing to kill Jekyll in an ill-conceived assassination attempt. He recovers to join and couple with the Blackbird, making his way through France and parlaying his skills into a royal pardon even as his opportunistic partner leaves him for the libidinous Prince of Wales. The three members of Cornwell's romantic triangle eventually meet during a huge climactic battle at Cr?cy, where Thomas must face up to a demanding family legacy involving a quest for a special lance. Cornwell has been down this path many times before, and he's a consummate pro when it comes to plying the tried-and-true combination of heroic characters; a fast-moving, action-packed plot; and enough twists and turns to keep the narrative from lapsing into formula. He uses his historical expertise judiciously as well. This book mark the beginning of a promising new series that brings an intriguing period to life. (Oct. 9) Forecast: Cornwell, the author of the Richard Sharpe series, set during the Napoleonic Wars, has a strong and growing U.S. fan base. The Archer's Tale, already a bestseller inBritain, should strengthen his hold on the Patrick O'Brian crowd. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Already a best seller in England under the title Harlequin, this novel is the opening salvo of a new series by the author of the well-known Richard Sharpe books (e.g., Sharpe's Trafalgar). Set in the early 1400s at the beginning of the Hundred Years War between England and France, this novel depicts one of the most bloody and violent periods in the history of conflict between these two nations. After the theft of the treasure of Hookton, a broken lance thought to have been the weapon St. George used to slay the dragon, young Thomas, the bastard son of the village priest and a skilled longbowman, joins the English army in hopes of recovering the relic. Instead, he finds himself caught up in the invasion of France. Cornwell has crafted an extremely well-written novel, grounded in actual historic events. As in the Sharpe books, Cornwell's battle scenes are particularly memorable. This series, however, promises to be a bit meatier. More attention is paid to fascinating secondary characters and the roles they play in the political, religious, and social arenas of the time. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/01.] Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Cornwell picks a new epoch to play in and, to no one's surprise, has a ball. The master of the Sharpe series, the Warlord Trilogy, and Stonehenge 2000 B.C. takes his peerless storytelling to the 14th-century in the tale of Thomas of Hookton, bastard son of an eccentric priest, whose superb archery takes the hero from darkest Dorset to the pivotal battle of Crecy. Tall, handsome, and deeply uninterested in his priestly study at Oxford, Thomas has gotten himself into the usual dilemma of lads home from school for the break: there's a local lass with a bun in the oven. But career choices and fatherhood cease to be problems when raiders from across the English Channel put the torch to the village of Hookton, raping, pillaging, cleaving, and stabbing in the fashion of the day. The pregnant girlfriend becomes a prize of war, and Thomas escapes with his life, but the raiders do in his mother and his rather mysterious father. They also make off with the greatest treasure in his father's church, the lance of St. George. With his last breath, Father Ralph tells his son that the lance, with which the family has long been involved, is now in the hands of Thomas's evil cousin, a leader of the raid, and he extracts from Thomas a promise to retrieve the relic. Chucking scholarship forever, the dutifully vengeful Thomas takes his bow and arrows to France to join English troops doing their own raping, pillaging, cleaving, and stabbing. He's a natural. Not so much at the nastier parts, but he's bright, speaks great Norman French, loves the job, and shoots straight. It's his reconnoitering that brings the stalemated English their first victory in ages, and his arrows bring down Frenchman after Frenchman.There's a setback when an evil knight lays him low, but Thomas gets to meet a good Jewish doctor, picks up a couple of very attractive Frenchwomen, and catches the eyes of the best British warriors. Another top effort from one of today's truly great storytellers. Please, oh please, let it be another series.