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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 Sept. 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 Sept. 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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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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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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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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Sharpe with a Longbow, 14 Nov. 2000
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic medieval tale, 14 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Harlequin (The Grail Quest, Book 1) (Paperback)
‘The Archer's Tale’ written by Bernard Cornwell is the first installment in Grail Quest series which evokes memories of the events in Europe in the 14th century that started the bloody conflict between England and France, known as The Hundred Years' War.

The story follows the only survivor of the French fierce raid on small English village of Hookton, named Thomas. Thomas who is a young medieval archer will leave his village to become fighter in English forces against the French usurpers. Thomas will seek his revenge, but additionally he will learn that one of the French attackers is his distant relative who is searching for an ancient lance that was used on Jesus Christ.

The first book of so far issued four is focused on main character learning to become an archer while reader will eventually learn about his family secret. His father was a priest but also had a noble past, therefore young Thomas will join the English forces against French for the throne, but also to uncover all the secrets that lie in the history of his family...

‘The Archer's Tale’ is a classic medieval tale in which the lovers of fiction based partly on historical events will fully enjoy – Cornwell’s work is filled with brutal battles, swords, arrows, blood and intrigue which marked that time. The author also skillfully threw in a few romantic subplots and female characters with which Thomas will have the affairs, but manages to arouse the reader's interest because they are not flat characters, but bring interesting plots and their own stories.

The name of the series of course is not accidental, because in the background of the story is the quest for the Holy Grail which is a common theme of the books that have this historical period for its setting. And precisely it would be shown that cousin Thomas is seeking is a key figure in this quest, though I will not disclose the details so as not to spoil the pleasure of reading.

One thing that should be mentioned is that book well-described the Battle at Crécy where the French were massacred by the English archers, so convincingly and detailed that even historians usually reluctant to such fiction remakes, will enjoy.

Overall, if you're a fan of historical novels, especially the medieval stories, ‘The Archer's Tale’ should not be missed because it is a work that even literary critics not so prone to such titles positively evaluated, while the audience is enjoying interesting adventures of this medieval hero in already fourth installment of the series.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, 27 Jan. 2002
I bought this novel primarily out of curiousity, then was hooked after the first few pages! One "lost" weekend later I found myself wondering when the other two are coming out.
This novel achieves just the right amount of historical heroism, gritty and savage at times, but heroic nonetheless, as well as an element of religious mysticism and magic with hints at the powers of the Lance and the Grail.
Thomas of Hookton is nothing like Richard Sharpe I found, which it has to be said is a good thing.
This novel appealed to me on all sorts of levels and I wouldnt spoil it for anyone else. Hope other readers enjoy this as much as I did since it certainly captured my imagination with its gritty realism, characterisation and with a dash of the mystical thrown in. Happy Reading!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Want a book you can't put down? - this is it., 11 Dec. 2001
By A Customer
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This was the first Bernard Cornwell book I had bought, and I honestly can't remember enjoying reading anything as much as this since I was a kid.
Great imagery, storyline, battles, blood and guts (and a bit of romance for variety) - and a history lesson (although the story is fiction) thrown in for good measure.
I have since bought the Warlord Chronicles (which I'm halfway through) and several Sharpe novels to keep me going through the winter.
Buy It - I promise you won't regret it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Calix meus inebrians, 6 Nov. 2000
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Archer's Tale is a good read and I look forward to reading the rest of the series., 25 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Harlequin (The Grail Quest, Book 1) (Paperback)
The perfect companion for all history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Book 1 in the Grail Quest series. Set in the Hundred Years War, The Archer's Tale follows the exploits of Thomas, the son of a priest who witnessed the destruction of his village and killing of his parents by French raiders. Bent on vengeance and a desire to uncover secrets about his family that his father took to the grave, Thomas joins the English military and sets on a course that ends with the epic Battle of Crécy in 1346.

In typical Cornwell style, The Archer's Tale includes a healthy dose of authentic history tweaked for story-telling purposes as need (and explained in the author's note at the end). The only thing that really seemed implausible was arranging for all of the protagonists to converge at the same spot and time on the battlefield. Still, it was a well-paced story and a great read for anyone interested in medieval life and warfare.
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Harlequin (The Grail Quest, Book 1)
Harlequin (The Grail Quest, Book 1) by Bernard Cornwell (Paperback - 25 April 2013)
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