Thomas of Hookton, Roland de Verrec, Robbie Douglas,
1356 sees Thomas and his group of rogue archers and men-at-arms (or otherwise known as the Hellequin) fighting as mercenaries in the French countryside. Thomas and his men are content; they are becoming rich off the warring French aristocracy and are able to help Frenchmen kill Frenchmen. However, Thomas knows that war is looming and when a message arrives from his liege Lord, the Earl of Northampton, Thomas is expecting to be wielding his bow back against the King of France. But, the letter is not what Thomas is expecting. The Earl of Northampton wants Thomas and his men to find a legendary relic called La Malice. La Malice is the sword of Saint Peter. The holy sword the Saint used to defend Jesus from the Romans.
The Earl of Northampton stresses how important La Malice is and Thomas sets out to reclaim it for the Kingdom of England. However, Thomas is not the only person looking for the sword! Thomas’s nemesis Cardinal Bessieres is also looking for the relic in a vain attempt to become the next Pope! Both parties intertwine within the book, but the great finale between these two, and who ends up with the sword, is decided at the Battle of Poitiers! Will it be Thomas and the English or Bessieres and the French?
As usual, this was a great read from Bernard Cornwell and I’m glad that he has returned to this series because my favourite period in history is the Hundred Years War. I like that Cornwell does justice to the Battle of Poitiers. As he rightly says, Poitiers is always overshadowed by the other great battles of the time like Crecy and Agincourt, so it is nice to see Cornwell give it the credit and recognition it deserves! I also love the fact that the ending suggests there could be another book to follow! I just hope it doesn’t take as long to come as 1356 has! And I love the front cover, it's so simple but just looks so awesome!
I would suggest this book to anyone who is a historical-fiction fan or to anyone who has read any of Cornwell’s other novels. I would say that if you are a Cornwell fan and you haven’t read his Grail Quest series, then go back to the first book Harlequin and start from there, don’t start with 1356!
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