1356 is the latest novel to feature Thomas of Hookton, the protagonist of Cornwell’s Grail Quest Series. Thomas is an English archer whose family had a mysterious connection with the Holy Grail, which was the topic of the first three novels: The Archer’s Tale, Vagabond, and Heretic. Now, he’s in search of another religious artifact around the time of the famous Battle of Poitiers fought on September 19, 1356 during the Hundred Year’s War. Here’s a description of the novel from the blurb on the dust jacket:
September 1356. All over France, towns are closing their gates. Crops are burning, and throughout the countryside people are on the alert for danger. The English army – led by the heir to the throne, the Black Prince – is set to invade, while the French, along with their Scottish allies, are ready to hunt them down.
But what if there was a weapon that could decide the outcome of the imminent war?
Thomas of Hookton, known as le Bastard, has orders to uncover the lost sword of Saint Peter, a blade with mystical powers said to grant certain victory to whoever possesses her. The French seek the weapon too, and so Thomas’ quest will be thwarted at every turn by battle and betrayal, by promises made and promises broken. As the outnumbered English army becomes trapped near Poitiers, Thomas, his troop of archers and men-at-arms, his enemies, and the fate of the sword converge in a maelstrom of violence, action, and heroism.If I had never heard of Bernard Cornwell, this description would still make me buy this book in a heartbeat. The quote on the cover by George R.R. Martin would have helped too: “Bernard Cornwell does the best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present.” I could not agree more, and I can’t wait to read 1356!