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Vagabond (The Grail Quest, Book 2) [Paperback]

Bernard Cornwell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 April 2013 The Grail Quest (Book 2)

The eagerly anticipated follow-up to the bestselling Harlequin, this is the second instalment in Bernard Cornwell's GRAIL QUEST series, in a bright and bold repackage.

It is 1346. While King Edward III fights in France, England lies exposed to the threat of invasion. Thomas of Hookton, archer and hero of Crécy, finds himself back in the north just as the Scots invade on behalf of their French allies.

Thomas is determined to pursue his personal quest: to discover whether a relic he is searching for is the Holy Grail. But once again it is the archers whose skills will be called upon, and who will become the true heroes of the battle.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (25 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007310315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007310319
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the Alfred series.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Vagabond, the second entry in the "Grail Quest" sequence, has been eagerly anticipated by those who read the first book, and it doesn't disappoint. Thomas has managed to survive the battle of Crécy. Still nursing his wounds, he is dispatched by the king on a mission to look into the matter of his father's inheritance, which is obscurely connected to the Holy Grail. This most precious relic of the Christian faith is a much sought-after object, offering the power of total victory in war to its owner. But Thomas finds himself in the middle of a battle against an army invading the North of England, and other shadowy forces pursuing the grail are prepared to slaughter anyone who stands in their way. In the ruins of his birthplace, Thomas discovers more about his father, and a dangerous voyage to France brings him up against his cousin and arch-enemy, Count of Astarc Guy Vexville. The stage is set for a merciless showdown.

Thomas is a protagonist drawn quite as pithily as his much-loved predecessor, and the sheer verve of Cornwell's storytelling here is irresistible. We are plunged into a distant age: bloody, colourful and dangerous. Roll on, volume three! --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘Crackling with good deeds, fine characters and sparkling set pieces, it confirms yet again Cornwell’s reputation for masterly historical novels’ DAILY MAIL

‘It is all spectacular, rattling good stuff: war and torture; love, lust and loss’ THE TIMES

‘The battle scenes, as always, are masterful; and the vignettes of everyday living, in times of extreme hardship, have the ring of simple truth’ SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

‘A very fine writer’ ECONOMIST

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars! 11 Nov 2002
I bought this book as soon as it came out and had been hoping for that to happen for a long time now.
Harlequin was a great book on itself, and I was hoping Vagabond would equal it. It did much better that I had expected!
It throws you into the story straight away, deep in North England where Thomas, father Hobbe and Eleanor search for a monk who might supply them with vital information for their quest for the Grail. Thomas takes place in the battle of Neville's Cross, one of the sublimely described battles in the book. After this, the story goes very fast and after quite a big shock, Thomas meets new friends and enemies alike.
At first, they all seemed quite one dimensional, but they really surprised me. All of the events are quite plausible and Cornwell again mixes history with fiction to great effect.
The ending, like in Harlequin, is good enough, considering it's a trilogy, but, even more than its predecessor did, leaves you wanting for more.
I advice this book to anyone who enjoys historical novels; it is one of the most fascinating I have read thus far.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great battle scenes 30 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Picked up the first book in this series and flew through it while on holidays and decided to continue with the series on coming home. I have read a few of Cornwell's books and this does not disappoint. Great attention to historical detailing and in particular Cornwell has a great forte for describing the big set-piece battles that take hold the book together; outside of these strengths in the book the prose is quite basic and characterisations sometimes feel a bit wooden. I initially gave this a four out of five as I really enjoyed the book but then thought that was a bit unfair on some of the truly greater works of literature out there that deserve a four or five out of five. Looking forward nevertheless to going on to read the third in the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read 19 Jan 2004
This is cornwell on fine form.
Great scrap with the scots in the beginning, and some great mickey takes of some of the liberties Braveheart took, the one about blue painted faces is genius.
I really enjoyed the battle scenes in this one, they are brutal and as vivid as ever.
THe torture scenes are supurbly written, and the feelings of the tortured towards the torturer are interestingly explored.
My only gripe is the similarities with Sharpe, it is to certain extents sharpe with bows and arrows, thoguh thats no bad thing really, and thomas is much more humble and less roguish than sharpe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 2nd in the series 20 Sep 2007
Having read the first of the Grail Quest books and uttelry loved it I was looking forward to this one. I wasn't disappointed. The narrative and characters are as brilliant as ever with Cornwell and the progression of the story moves along well.
The only negative for me was that it felt a little more disjointed than the first. Thomas travelling here and there many times which for me made it lose focus a little bit. The upside of this is that there's always something going on, and helps keep your interest, but it didn't feel as purposeful as the first.
It really is only a minor gripe though as it is an excellent read, and made me very excited about getting the final book (As far as I believe it is only a trilogy)

Once again Cornwell excels, drawing the reader into a colourful and complete world with a book that is a pure joy to read.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but wanted more 13 Oct 2002
Besides the Sharpe novels, which I have yet to get into, I have read most of Mr Cornwell's historical fiction novels, and having enjoyed "an Archer's Tale", I was looking forward to the latest addition to the Grail Quest Trilogy.
I read it in a day, all the way through (it really is not very long, the large text in a hardback copy is very deceiving) and although worth the money, this book is very much the second in a planned trilogy, with most elements left open to be wound up in the next and final novel. The characters are interesting and their stories are expertly woven into the social and historical context, making seemingly insignificant chapters in history far more important than what we learned in GCSE History. Yet, dare I say it, the plot is rather uninspired and save for the relevancy to real-life events, disappointly wooden. We can guess that the English are always champion underdogs, and that Thomas and his evil nemesis will fight it out until the very end. The quest for the grail even retains elements of Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" - an ensemble of characters looking for a mythical and all powerful carpenter's cup. But by God Mr Cornwell's writing still flows, and he still makes you wonder what is was really like when life was so much more violent, but at the same time so much bloody simpler. I look forward to the next instalment. Go Thomas of Hookton!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vagabond (The Grail Quest) 8 Sep 2009
A follow on story from 'harlequin' but could be enjoyed in its own right. Fast paced, with detailed and authentic descriptions of the era. Typical Bernard Cornwall style, ideal for readers who enjoy learning about history while being entertained.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As if I'm looking through the eyes.... 22 Oct 2002
I enjoy a good read that allows me to escape into the turbulent history of the past. If the author can do that without bogging me down with lots of detail even better. Vagabond continues the suspended suspense created with of The Archer's Tale.
I thought the book was going to be lukewarm at first; a repertoire of character confessions of individual hardship in medieval England. I had this jigsaw puzzle before me, a lot of pieces that were recognizable but how they would be constructed into a story, indefinable. And then this magical, mystical piece popped out of the pages and I could complete the book. It was the way Cornwell weaves historical fact within his basic idea into his concept; the vainness of war, vengeance, ambition, obsession and absolution. I realized I was thinking too much and not allowing the words to delineate the story. The futility, trials and triumphs in mans quest for the grail and finding redemption. Here was the vivid portrayal of what I gleamed from countless historical references in my studies and travels throughout England and Scotland.
The smoke began to clear with the poignant depiction of de Taillebourg, the French Monk, and his devotion to his faith as he beat his own skull against granite rock. As the story unfolds his apparent spirituality shrouds an insane lust for power. I loved the distressing tension of the English, including the main character, Thomas, scrambling for absolution before entering into battle against the marauding Scots. I felt like one of the bystanders jockeying for position to witness the carnage as steel clashed against steel, arrows found their mark, and men breathed their last breath of life.
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