Bernard Cornwell has found a new hero in Thomas of Hookton, and this historically accurate book is a great introduction to the beginning of what became the 100 Year War between England and France. It gives a fascinating insight into the Monarchy of England and France at the time following a couple of centuries on from the Norman invasion of England. Thomas of Hookton is, like Richard Sharpe before him, clearly destined for great things. He speaks French like a native of that country and has an aristocratic background which has been hidden from him by fate. His bow is a monstrous weapon and clearly forms part of history along with the feats of the English and Welsh archers whose firepower decimated the French forces, and caused the defeat of the French Knights time and time again. For the first time, the common soldier, in this case the archers, overcame the flower of the French armies, causing their high-born knights to flee the field of battle. The action in this, the first of the Grail Quest novels lives up to all expectations, and once again Cornwell's hero has all against him. Again he is fortunate in having the ear of Royalty and the aid of Will Speakstone and other soldiers of fortune who have become rich through the spoils of war. It has been suggested that too much has been made of "rape and pillage", however this is an accurate portrayal of what would occur after the fall of a besieged city. Cornwell is always accurate, and in order to appreciate fully the power of this novel, you must first understand the cruel times in which it is set. A rollicking good read; a super Christmas gift for all chairbound would-be heros. I can scarce wait for the next book, but rest assured I shall be first in the queue.