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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de Force
One of the highlights of my year is the new Angus Donald novel, but this new book was slightly more anticipated than usual. You see, while I've thoroughly enjoyed all Angus' books, I have noted the opposite of what they used to say about the Star Trek Movies (the even movies were the better ones). While I thoroughly enjoyed Holy Warrior (2) and Warlord (4), it was Outlaw...
Published 11 months ago by SJATurney

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Thoroughly enjoyed this 5th book in the series not quite as good as the other 4 but still very good roll on number 6'
Published 9 months ago by Paul


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de Force, 1 Aug 2013
This review is from: Grail Knight (Outlaw Chronicles) (Hardcover)
One of the highlights of my year is the new Angus Donald novel, but this new book was slightly more anticipated than usual. You see, while I've thoroughly enjoyed all Angus' books, I have noted the opposite of what they used to say about the Star Trek Movies (the even movies were the better ones). While I thoroughly enjoyed Holy Warrior (2) and Warlord (4), it was Outlaw (1) and King's Man (3) that were outstanding in the series and eclipsed many other great reads of the time. So would book 5 continue this trend?

Simply, yes. Grail Knight may well be the best of the five and, even if not, it is on a par with the outstanding King's Man, which is about the highest praise to give anyway.

Why is it a win? Well to start with, Angus has consistently managed to take Robin Hood (one of the most clichéd subjects in history) and write a series about him that repeatedly side-steps cliché and delivers fresh, engaging and fascinating tales that do not irritate in the way Robin Hood could so easily do (ahem, Ridley Scott!) That in itself is a feat. But this tale is also about the Holy Grail. No it's not a spoiler. Even if you didn't realise from the title (giveaway #1) the lead-up in book 4 made it obvious this was going to happen. And if there's anything that delivers more cliché and general awfulness than Robin Hood as a subject, it is the Holy Grail. And yet in this book, Angus has managed to avoid cliché and awfulness very neatly. The result is that, in a book about two things that are a minefield of cheese, Angus has created a gem of a tale that delivers shock, joy, fascination and sheer power. Kudos.

The tale delves deeper into the awful and mysterious `Master' and his secretive order within the Knights Templar. It portrays the Templars in an unusual light, making them bad guys, dubious and selfish, harsh and outside the law, while not accusing them of heresy and demon worship as seems to be the norm for writers these days. (Minor spoiler coming here:) The quest for the grail leads Alan from his home in Westbury, alongside his liege lord Robin, leaving a ruined home and a dying love to search for the one thing that can save her. It leads us to Cathar country in south west France and explores that beautiful world, centring on somewhere I have always wanted to visit. The plot never falters, hurtling along at pace, ever goading the reader to `just a few more pages'. The plot is neatly constructed and leaves no loose ends, in fact tying up a number of frayed threads from the previous books!

Probably the biggest win for this book with me, though, is the cast. As well as the essentials, a number of old friends return, including one of my faves - Sir Nicholas de Scras. And... Nur. You see I had become rather irritated with the witch woman in the previous books and had even gone as far as to grumble about her on Twitter at Angus! And yet she returns in Grail Knight to take her place in the cast and does so in such a well-crafted way that I thoroughly enjoyed it and found that I was appreciating her part as much as any other.

The book is happy and sad, full of subterfuge and open action, tense and calming, magical and spiritual and practical. It has everything you might expect from one of Angus' books, but in spades.

Be prepared to put aside all your other hobbies and much sleep (I read 80 pages in the middle of the night yesterday) and enjoy a book every bit as good as King's Man. Fans will not be disappointed and, if you haven't read Angus' other books, I would recommend them as always, but now with 25% more voracity!
Oh and the ending? Masterful. Simply masterful.

I sent the author a message when I had almost finished it, calling Grail Knight a Tour De Force and that is what it is.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Dale and Robin Hood are back! Excellent addition to the series, 1 Aug 2013
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Grail Knight (Outlaw Chronicles) (Hardcover)
The fifth novel in Angus Donald's superb series of Outlaw Chronicles powerfully mixes medieval legend and history in a brutal, bloody stew of warfare, vendetta, feudalism and fanaticism. Moving between the outlaws' Sherwood lair and the heretical castles of southern France, Grail Knight brings alive the months following Richard the Lionheart's death in 1199, written from the perspective of Sir Alan Dale, a young knight in the service of Robin of Loxley, otherwise known as the much feared Robin Hood.

While I would suggest that you read the Outlaw Chronicles in order, beginning with Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles), it is possible to read each as a standalone novel. However, Grail Knight benefits enormously from a read of the previous novels, not least because it marks a turning point in some of their themes and stories. As a result, don't read this if you don't want to know what happened before to Alan and Robin.

One strength of the series is that each of the novels is very different - battling for survival in Sherwood Forest, going on Crusade, following the trail of the captive Richard the Lionheart into Germany and Austria and, in Warlord, the previous novel, to war with France. Warlord introduced the charismatic and powerful symbol of the Holy Grail, the quest of knights of legend, and it forms the focus of Grail Knight. Facing new and old enemies, Alan and Robin set out to find the Grail's hiding place in the heartland of the Cathars in southern France. The Companion of Grail Knights they lead is a mixed bunch indeed. Each has his (or her) own motive for finding the Grail but despite the tension that this causes they also uphold, rather against character in some cases, the chivalric code of honour that seekers of the Grail are required to achieve in order to succeed in their quest. Religious purity or even Christianity, though, has very little to do with it. This is Robin Hood after all, a man with his own legend built around him with its touches of paganism and Green Man of the woods.

Despite the light promised by the Grail, this is a dark and dangerous world and this atmosphere is conveyed perfectly by Angus Donald, here just as in the earlier novels. Menace hangs over Sir Alan's household in the ghastly form of Nur and now this comes to a head. Also, we continue to see both the best and the worst of the Knights Templar and Hospitaller. With the Lionheart dead and war with France paused, many knights in England and on the continent are leaderless and in pursuit of their own goals. Perhaps more than the other novels, Grail Knight demonstrates the fragility of life - the safety line is cut and we can't expect all to survive the hunt for the Grail. As a result, the novel both thrills and shocks. It is also violent and horrific in places. This Robin has not been sanitised by Hollywood. The style of the narrative, written as if in hindsight, adds an atmosphere of foreboding. Everyone the old Alan mentions is very much painted with the past tense.

I have loved each one of the Outlaw Chronicles and I am continually astonished by the course that we are led on. Alan is a finely developed, knowable character while Robin is an intriguing shadowed figure, much more difficult to know. Little John and Friar Tuck both get a makeover and are very surprising. The repercussions of Grail Knight linger in the mind and without doubt it is every bit as good and unputdownable as its excellent predecessor Warlord (Outlaw Chronicles). Above all else, Grail Knight is a superb, thoroughly entertaining adventure story and a fine addition to a fabulous series. I've grateful for the review copy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great quest story!, 13 Aug 2013
Sir Alan Dale is trying to enjoy his new found wealth in peace and quiet. His estate at Westbury is providing a comfortable living and his beloved wife Goody is pregnant with their first child. Dale hopes that his life of daring and adventure are now over but when your Lord is Robin Earl of Locksley, danger and adventure are never far away.

When an old crime surfaces, powerful forces are drawn to Westbury seeking vengeance. The Knights Templar are determined to bring Dale to justice and will use any means to ensure it.

To make matters worse, the witch Nur has been seen around Westbury and when Goody falls ill Dale fears the worst.

With Goody on her deathbed, Robin convinces Alan that the only thing that can save her is the Holy Grail.

Christendoms holiest and scared object is in the hands of an old enemy and Robin is determined to take it from him.

So with the Templars dogging their every step and Nur as one of the Grail Companions, Robin and Alan travel across England and France in their quest for the Holy Grail.

Can Alan survive the array of enemies lined up against him and return the Grail to Westbury in time to save his beloved Goody and their unborn child?

Grail Knight is the fifth book in the Outlaw Chronicles by Angus Donald and while you can read it by itself I would recommend you start from the beginning of the series to get the full back story.

If you read these books expecting the classic Robin Hood stories and characters you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Angus Donald's Robin is much more of an early gangster, surviving on robbery, murder and protection rackets. Even though by Grail Knight he is an Earl with large estates, old habits die hard and he is an expert in getting the Alan, the narrator of the story in trouble.

Grail Knight is written much like an old fashioned Fantasy quest tale in the style of Tolkien or Eddings. The Grail Companions all fill a need or niche within the group.

Robin is the Leader and thief, we have a virtuous Knight, a Holy man who is the groups conscience, the loyal and brave squire, a fighter man, Nur is the bad guy brought into the group and Dale has the personal and pressing need to complete the quest.

It even has the all powerful enemy with the power and men to dog their every step and as they overcome each obstacle the group draws closer together.

I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and it is quite a departure from the first four books and shows the versatility of author's writing. Each book has had a different aspect which has included, religious fanaticism, royal power and military might.

The history in his book is as usual top notch. Donald comes across as an author who knows his subject and is never afraid to put lots of historical details into his books. This doesn't affects or slow the story and gives the book a rich depth of detail.

I raced through this book in just a couple of sittings and this is always a good measure of how good a book is.

This book is Angus Donald at his best and I can highly recommend the whole series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More please!, 11 July 2014
By 
Mr. Patrick L. Divine "Patrick" (East Anglia, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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What a great series of books about an english legend - I hope there's more in the pipeline.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More brilliance, 9 Jun 2014
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
A fantastic series with strong characters and inventive storytelling.
The take is of the Robin Hood legend, but a much darker Robin here, and the story is told by Alan Dale. Cleverly the stories are mainly about Alan but Robin is a regular presence.
Here the author ties up quite a few loose ends from previous books and sets the gang off in pusuit of the legendary Holy Grail. Alan needs it for his dying wife and who knows why Robin wants it....
Amongst the usual clever storytelling we have an interesting take on Little John and Friar Tuck which will make you re-assess them in ways you may not have considered.
Angus Donald is a very talented author and has found the perfect platform for his talents. Very highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read., 23 May 2014
I've followed this series of books since the start and I just love the story.

Grail Knight is a fantastic read, I literally couldn't put it down. Its got adventure, romance and tons of action with some brilliant characters.

One thing I've always liked about Angus Donald is that he mixes real events which have happened to blend in with his story which I think is great.

If your looking for an 'edge of your seat' book, I suggest you give this one a go.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think you know Robin Hood? Think again..., 20 May 2014
Angus Donald has taken the tired, clichéd story of Robin Hood and brought him to life as never before. Seen through the eyes of Alan Dale, the whole series of books will take you on a bloody, bruising adventure through medieval England (and France) the likes of which you've never been on before. This series appeals to all ages, I'm 43 and my daughter was 13 when she started reading them. We're now both firm fans. Mr Donald has the craft of a master story teller. Not to be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC!!!, 20 May 2014
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This review is from: Grail Knight (Outlaw Chronicles) (Hardcover)
As with all previous novels by Angus Donald Grail Knight (Book 5), I pre ordered this and eagerly awaited release, when the day finally came I wasn't disappointed, yet again Angus produced a thrilling read that leaves you wanting more, extremely well written and as any reader of Angus Donald's work knows, I was once again dragged into the world of Robin and his men, without hesitation this is a 5 star and I for one cannot wait for the next instalment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You have got to read this, 20 May 2014
Absolute page turner, couldn't put it down, I highly recommend u read the full series, bought them all on kindle, enjoyed them so much I bought them in hard back to add to my collection, u will not be disappointed I promise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another great novel in the enthralling series, 12 May 2014
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Angus Donald continues the gripping saga of Robin Hood and his band of not so very merry men, this series tells the story as would would have been , not all pretty maidens and green tights, the sights ,sounds ,and even the smells are brought to life by Mr Donald, the true meaning of loyalty and the horrors of the days of the crusades have already been covered in previous novels now we travel further down through story of Robin ,I will not go into detail about this book I do not want to spoil the story for any one ,but if you have read the earlier books you need to buy this one the action just gets better and better.If you are an avid fan of Mr Bernard Cornwell you need to check out this author and this series of books ,he will blow your mind...
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Grail Knight (Outlaw Chronicles)
Grail Knight (Outlaw Chronicles) by Angus Donald (Hardcover - 1 Aug 2013)
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