- The Archer’s Tale
- by Bernard Cornwell
- ISBN: 0-06-621084-4
- Pages 374: hardbound
- HarperCollins, 2001
- Genre: Historical Fiction
I try to spread my reading around a bit across different genres and authors, but this was my second Bernard Cornwell book in six weeks; and I’m enjoying it! (A big thanks to Charlie at professor b. worm for initially turning me on to Cornwell).
Looking back to my review of the first one I read, which was Agincourt, I could almost cut-and-paste the same words. The story is set during the same war, the underlying themes are much the same, the cast of characters is similar, the plot progression is similar and both stories end in large set-piece battles which faithfully reconstruct actual events from medieval history. In truth, the books are kind of carbon copies of each other. Having said all that, it didn’t spoil the read for me at all.
Cornwell creates some strong characters and writes really good stories. He clearly does a lot of homework and he entwines his stories around actual historical events with lots of detail that feels very authentic.
In this case the setting is once again the Hundred Years War between the English and French. This time the story climaxes with the battle of Crecy.
It did occur to me that with a factual backdrop as amazing as this, who needs to create a fictional foundation? The facts take some beating. There is war between two countries that lasts for over a hundred years. Throughout there is political intrigue with some factions changing sides. Both sides experience a constant change of leadership, with the kings variously being warriors, timid, smart, dumb, brutal, petulant, nervous, conniving and greedy. There are some major battles which served to re-write military strategy. The much smaller armies often won the day. Kings and princes often lead their armies into battle and were on the front line of brutal action. Epic is a much over-used word, but this was truly epic stuff.
So, a fascinating history plus a strong story-teller equals a winner. I’d rate this book four stars, and as with Agincourt I’d strongly recommend this to anyone interested in historic fiction or life in medieval times, or indeed anyone who enjoys a good action read.
I now have to try and resist the temptation to read another Cornwell book for a little while.
Link to JD’s review of Agincourt.
The Archer’s Tale is the first in The Grail Quest series. The other two books are as follows:
- Vagabond – Published 2002
- Heretic – Published in 2003
This book was borrowed from the local library. Yeah!
Your comments and thoughts are always welcome. Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.