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118 of 127 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harlequin Revisited
This book is "Harlequin" the first book in the "Grail Quest" series with a new title. Cornwell fans beware, do not think that it is a new book!
Having said that Cornwell produces his usual standard of work with an excellent story drawing on strands of christian mythology and well researched history. For me the thing which makes Cornwell the best writer of...
Published on 27 Sep 2002 by Simon Rose

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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
The Archer's Tale (otherwise known as Harlequin) is a good start to a good series. In my opinion Cornwell always writes well, and creates enjoyable 'rough around the edges' heroes. However, the Grail Quest series completely pales in comparison to the Arthurian Warlord Chronicles. If you've read them, read Harlequin (but don't expect to be overwhelmed). If you haven't read...
Published on 9 Oct 2006 by Rollover


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118 of 127 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harlequin Revisited, 27 Sep 2002
By 
Simon Rose (Manchester, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This book is "Harlequin" the first book in the "Grail Quest" series with a new title. Cornwell fans beware, do not think that it is a new book!
Having said that Cornwell produces his usual standard of work with an excellent story drawing on strands of christian mythology and well researched history. For me the thing which makes Cornwell the best writer of historical warfare novels since Forester (Hornblower & Death to the French) is his attention to the detail in his heros' daily lives. In this book, Cornwell shows that he is as knowledgeable about the life of an archer in the 14th century as he is about infantry in the 19th century.
A Cornwell book is always worth buying, reading and re-reading.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Sharpe with a Longbow, 14 Nov 2000
This review is from: The Grail Quest (1) - Harlequin (Hardcover)
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.
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113 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Archer's Tale" = "Harelquin" Be Warned., 10 Mar 2006
By A Customer
Okay, it's a great yarn - book one of my favourite B.C. Series thus far (excepting Sharpe, of course). But BE WARNED "The Archer's Tale" is "Harlequin" by another title. BC wanted the book to be called "Harlequin" (as it was originally release un the UK) but the Yanks, as they've a pre-teen lovey-dovey-pukey-sickey series of inoffensive 'romantic' novellas called the 'Harlequin' series the publishers didn't want angry parents complaining that their pre-pubescent, highly impressionable Young American children were being actually taught something about European History; the 100 years' War and the battle of Agincourt, through a piece of historical fiction. That said, the book is absolutely FANTASTIC even though the whereabouts of the Grail are stunningly obvious to anyone with half a brain cell (pre-pubescent Young Americans not included). The stunning brutalitly and harsh reality of life, warfare and politics in the early part of the 100 years' war is finely and easily depicted, here. Enjoy and buy the others!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched and detailed battle scenes, 30 Nov 2004
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and have gone on to read the whole series with relish. The extraordinary battle scenes, particularly the final one at Crecy, are as vivid as any epic version on the big screen - I was totally transfixed and my usually stressful daily trips on the Northern line went by in a blur. Cornwell has researched real battles and brought them terrifyingly to life. I learned a lot about medieval weaponry and battle tactics, so different from today - totally fascinating. Maybe this series should become set reading for school kids studying the Hundred Years' War...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Calix meus inebrians, 6 Nov 2000
This review is from: The Grail Quest (1) - Harlequin (Hardcover)
Harlequin depicts all the horror of mediaeval warfare in the same way that the Sharpe novels do for the Napoleonic era. Gone are any thoughts of chivalry and knights in brightly shining armour rescuing damsels in distress. Here is the start of the hundred years war, brutal and bloody. Once again Cornwell has done his homework (so I would guess) in creating an authentic period setting for his story following the archer Thomas of Hookton.
I really enjoyed this, perhaps not as much as the Warlord Chronicles, but it's every bit as good as Sharpe and that's high praise indeed. One criticism I do have is that the book is full of rather amazing coincidences and chance meetings, not outrageously unbelievable but if I were a betting man.....
Thomas' character did not however grow on me in quite the same way as Derfel's did, or Sharpe's either. Maybe I'm being a little petty over this, after all Derfel grew over three books, I've almost lost count of the number of Sharpe's I have read. Thomas will no doubt develop in the sequel for which I can hardly wait - hope it's before Christmas!
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Archer's Tale/Harlequin, 23 Mar 2006
This book is truely wonderful introduction into the grail quest series. Harlequin (aka The Archer's Tale) kickstarts the trilogy with a bang, introducing a typical Cornwallesque Heroic character (strong, impoverished and with tragedy in his past) who is then followed through a series of adventures both at home and in the middle of the hundred year's war in France.
If you like the Sharpe series then you'll love this too. A different period of history, but equally well explored, with historical facts and battles being interwoven into a story based around an intricate plot of familial revenge and power. If you're buying this then seriously consider buying Vagabond and Heretic (the rest of the grail quest trillogy) because once you get into the story you won't want to have to wait for the next installment...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous, 27 July 2004
This novel was my first step into what i have now come to know as the marvellous literary world of Mr Cornwell, and it did not disappoint.
The first of the " The grail quest trilogy" The book is set at the very beggining of the infamous hundred years war between the English and French. The plot revovles around a certain young english longbowman called Thomas. Thomas's home village is sacked by raiding party from france, resulting in his fathers death and the theft of a local relic. The resulting story ensues as Thomas joins the english army to avenge the wrongs he has been caused and travels with the army into france to seek revenge on his french enemies.
The book is an excellent read. The plot is never short of medieaval action which is provided through cornwells glorious depiction of the battles and skirmishes that the young hero undergoes. The story flows sublimely easing gently through the pages like an english river on a heady summers day until the battles scenes that is where it thunders with the power and emotion of a waterfall. Apart from being a great book, a brilliant attribute to its curriculum vitae is the way in which the history in which the book is set is easily distributed to the mind giving the reader a chance to come away from the book feeling happy about the book but (as is the case with most cornwell novels) as more knowledgable on an important period of English history. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes a brilliantly mastered plot with more than a hint of 'factionalality'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CORNWELL AND PIGGOTT-SMITH - UNBEATABLE, 10 Nov 2000
By A Customer
There isn't a better combination in the world of audio books than Tim Piggott-Smith reading Bernard Cornwell's work. The "Winter King" trilogy and "Stonehenge" have all been superb, and "Harlequin" easily lives up to the high standards they've set. Cornwell moves to the Hundred Years War for the first book in his new series which primarily concerns the adventures of Thomas of Hookton as he fights his way through France serving the Earl of Northampton and King Edward III. Thomas, however, has his own burning personal reasons for going across the Channel... The story itself is everyhing you'd expect from Bernard Cornwell...exciting, well researched and blood stirring with a strong, admirable hero. Formulaic in some respects maybe, but eminently enjoyable nevertheless. Tim Piggott-Smith's narrative style complements Cornwell's stories perfectly...he acts the storyline impeccably, endowing each character with a distinct sound and personality which must be extemely hard to achieve within a "talking book". His voice is rich and full of expression which enhances the ability of the listener to concentrate on the storyline...another fine achievement for this medium. I can't recommend this enough, nor its predecessors in the Cornwell / Piggott-Smith collaboration...treat yourself and give them a try.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 9 Oct 2006
The Archer's Tale (otherwise known as Harlequin) is a good start to a good series. In my opinion Cornwell always writes well, and creates enjoyable 'rough around the edges' heroes. However, the Grail Quest series completely pales in comparison to the Arthurian Warlord Chronicles. If you've read them, read Harlequin (but don't expect to be overwhelmed). If you haven't read the Warlord Chronicles, read them first - they're truly exceptional, in my view surpassing Sharpe, Starbuck, and all the rest of Cornwell's output. I would also recommend Cornwell's current series, with The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman and the Lords of the North. They are (so far) almost as good as the Warlord Chronicles, and I wait with bated breath for the next instalment...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in the story, 24 Dec 2003
By 
Marie Cousens (Harrogate, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'll be briefer than the other reviewers, simply this books was excellent. I've only read a handful of Sharpe and was only really introduced to Bernard Cornwall through the Winter king Series. I was dubious about his attempts following the Grail fearing it would lead to some fake Arthur style plot but I was not disappointed. The medieval period is one which I frequently return to and I was pleased to find it had been covered well. The best part was the battle at Crecy. As a woman I used to skip over battle scenes but with Cornwall I can't get enough of them. I read the battle of Crecy through my lunch hour at work and when the clock struck 2 I found it impossibly hard to return to mundane 21st century world. Excellent, hungry for more.
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The Grail Quest (1) - Harlequin
The Grail Quest (1) - Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell (Hardcover - 16 Oct 2000)
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