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    Review of VAGABOND by Bernard Cornwell


    HarperCollins, 2002

    Click to buy VAGABOND from While Edward besieges Calais, the archer Thomas of Hookton is sent to find the greatest treasure in the world--the holy grail. His family, it was believed, had possessed the cup and, somewhere, held the secret. Thomas's faith has been damaged by the evil he has faced. All he wants is to be an archer and captain of an archer troop. But the King's orders are clear.

    Thomas's journey takes him to northern England during the Scottish invasion, then to southern England where his father had served as priest, and finally to France where the French have raised strong armies to overcome the hated English and their bows. Even worse than the French, Thomas has earned some powerful and important enemies--including his own cousin, an inquisitioner, and an English knight. Between betrayal and the overwhelming number of his adversaries, Thomas seems doomed. Yet the English archer was a formidable opponent and Thomas is one of the best.

    Set in 1347, during the time when legends of the grail were most widespread, Bernard Cornwell's VAGABOND is an exciting military adventure (see more reviews of novels by Bernard Cornwell). Thomas is an intriguingly imperfect hero. His doubts, his despair at the damage done to him by the inquisitors, and his inability to firmly commit to the women of his life give him a three-dimensionality that make his heroic qualities more real. Cornwell's descriptions of the battles of Neville's Cross and La Roche-Derrien is fully convincing with just the right degree of detail in military tactics and equipment, but with proper focus on the people who made these battles--great victories and defeats--important.

    Four Stars

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