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Heretic (The Grail Quest, Book 3) Paperback – September 25, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cornwell is a master of the historical action novel, and he outdoes himself again with this gripping third volume in his Grail Quest series, set during the bloody Hundred Years' War (The Archer's Tale; Vagabond). For years, English archer Thomas of Hookton has been searching for the Holy Grail. Thomas is not certain it ever existed, but obscure clues link his family to the mysterious vessel. In 1347, driven by his desire to plumb the truth of the Grail as well as to earn money from the plunder of French lands and property, Thomas and a small group of soldiers capture a castle in Gascony, the homeland of Thomas's father. Thomas hopes to hold the castle against the French, raid the countryside for loot and draw the attention of his evil cousin Guy Vexille, a French nobleman who murdered Thomas's father and who may have information about the Grail. Vexille appears, but so does the army of a local lord, sent to besiege the castle, and the vicious brother of a treacherous and cunning bishop who is determined to secure the Grail. Fighting honorably amid extreme brutality, Thomas is aided by loyal English archers, English and French men-at-arms, local bandits, a Scottish mercenary and a heretic girl with unusual powers. Outnumbered by his enemies, he faces the might of a huge cannon and the power of the Church's greed-not to mention the dreaded Black Death. Most daunting of all, however, is the decision Thomas must make when he finally discovers the truth about the Holy Grail. Graphic battlefield action, strong characters and sharp plotting are Cornwell's trademarks, and his fans will love this latest melee.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Thomas of Hookton, English archer and illegitimate son of a disgraced French priest, returns in the third and final volume of Cornwell's best-selling Grail Quest series. As the Hundred Years' War rages on, Thomas continues to fight for the earl of Northampton and the Crown while remaining devoted to the quest he first undertook in The Archer's Tale (2001) and refined in Vagabond (2002). Spurred on by a series of enigmatic clues, he remains determined to unearth the greatest treasure in all of Christendom--the Holy Grail. Together with his ragtag band of loyal followers and a beautiful woman accused of heresy, Thomas lays a trap in Gascony for his evil cousin and sworn enemy Guy Vexille. Both determined to win the ultimate prize, Thomas and Guy ultimately meet in a decisively gruesome battle. Though triumphant, Thomas must eventually contemplate the price of his victory and decide if the sacred trophy he sought is worth the havoc it will continue to wreak on mankind. Oozing with all the blood, gore, and action that fans of Cornwell's graphically detailed historical fiction have come to expect, the conclusion of this gripping trilogy is on target to please a ready-made audience. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (September 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060748281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060748289
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London in 1944 - a 'warbaby' - whose father was a Canadian airman and mother in Britain's Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted by a family in Essex who belonged to a religious sect called the Peculiar People (and they were), but escaped to London University and, after a stint as a teacher, he joined BBC Television where he worked for the next 10 years. He began as a researcher on the Nationwide programme and ended as Head of Current Affairs Television for the BBC in Northern Ireland. It was while working in Belfast that he met Judy, a visiting American, and fell in love. Judy was unable to move to Britain for family reasons so Bernard went to the States where he was refused a Green Card. He decided to earn a living by writing, a job that did not need a permit from the US government - and for some years he had been wanting to write the adventures of a British soldier in the Napoleonic wars - and so the Sharpe series was born. Bernard and Judy married in 1980, are still married, still live in the States and he is still writing Sharpe.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By ilmk on November 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The concluding part of Cornwell's trilogy, Heretic, promised to provide a fabulously roaring end to the tale of Thomas Hookton, English Archer during the early years of the Hundred Years War. But, unfortunately, it went out with a tired whimper rather than the exciting bangs of the previous two novels.
It opens with Thomas' rescue of the overly adventurous Earl of Northampton at a skirmish at Calais and his subsequent orders to go to Astarac and locate the Grail, ensuring his cousin, Guy de Vexille, is aware of his presence.
So, Thomas takes his new band of archers south and captures the Castillon D'Arbizon in a nighttime raid and manages to avert the superstitious and fear induced heretical burning of the Church-condemned beghard, Genevieve, who is, luckily for Thomas, also very beautiful (inducing a fit of jealousy in the ever present Robbie). Meanwhile, the evil Dominician is back, this time in the guise of Louis Bessieres, Cardinal Archbishop of Livorno, with his brother, Charles and they are seeking, in a tower at Soissons, to create an artificial Grail. This they achieve and Thomas and Genevieve are evicted from D'Arbizon by a group of his own men, led by Robbie who's unrequited lust for Genevieve allows his religious fervour to flourish. Thomas is subsequently excommunicated, takes up with a band of corredors led by Phildin, and spends much of the time moving through the Berat countryside before returning to D'Arbizon.
Meanwhile, the Count of Berat is murderd by his nephew, Joscelyn, who turns out to be another Jekyll. Joscelyn promptly takes his cannon to D'Arbizon, aided by Charles Bessiers and Guy Vexille to both remove the English garrison under Sir Guillaume and capture the grail.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schiefelbein VINE VOICE on August 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Bernard Cornwell's Grail Quest trilogy concludes with "Heretic," and a bloody conclusion it is, too.

Thomas of Hookton lives in violent times. In "The Archer's Tale," Thomas's father was butchered by Thomas's cousin, Guy Vexille, and Thomas's woman, Eleanor, was also murdered by Guy in "Vagabond." Thomas has survived several vicious battles and an even more vicious round of torture at the hands of a Dominican priest. And through it all, Thomas has sought the holiest of holy relics, the Grail . . . although Thomas has not always pursued his quest with vigor.

Now, in "Heretic," Thomas at last closes in on the object of his quest by returning to his ancestral home of Astarac. By pursuing the Grail here, Thomas also hopes to draw out his cousin so Thomas can avenge his father and Eleanor.

Cornwell, as usual, keeps Thomas the Archer occupied, wielding a new, mightier bow with the same lethal efficiency. For those who have not yet read this series, the archer was not the little guy standing in the rear picking off foes with little pinpricks. The archer was king of the battlefield, using a variety of arrows to slaughter men and horses, perforating even the strongest armor with cannon-like shots. The arrival of primitive cannon technology in this series does not alter the balance of power.

Thomas, being Thomas, gets sidetracked with romance by falling in love with a beautiful woman (who always seem to turn up for Thomas . . . oh, well -- it pays not to overthink such things). This woman was falsely accused of being a heretic and has been tortured at the hands of an evil priest, much like Thomas. For his chivalry, Thomas is excommunicated. Cast out, he nevertheless pursues his twin goals of revenge and salvation.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By David Read VINE VOICE on April 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
First, the positive: this book vividly portrays the superstition and gross spiritual darkness of people living in the 14th Century, and it does so better than anything I've ever read or seen. We see an innocent young girl condemned to be burned at the stake, after having been tortured by a sadistic Dominican monk. Our hero, Thomas of Hookton, rescues her from that fate, but soon his command is falling apart because the men are terrified to have a condemned heretic among them, thinking it is bad luck. Thomas cleverly calms their fears by touching a crucifix to the girl's forehead and showing that she is not burned or struck dead. Nevertheless, later on, after the girl has killed her Dominican torturer, and Thomas is excommunicated for harboring her and keeping the church from burning her, the problem arises again, with a vengeance. That much of the book (about the first half) was gripping reading. After that, the novel just kind of fell apart and lost all its direction.

Now the negative: There are major continuity problems between the second and third books of this "trilogy." Jeanette, "the blackbird," who was Thomas' love interest in the first two books, simply disappears and is never heard from or even mentioned in the third book. That was a major disappointment, because she was an interesting character who had been developed over the first two novels, and it seemed that she and Thomas were destined to be together. In the second book, "Vagabond," Sir Guillaume D'Evecque lost his estates but, in the battle of LeRoche-Derrien depicted at the end of "Vagabond", D'Evecque had captured his own landlord, the wealthy Count of Coutances, and was in a position to extract a large ransom and get his estates returned to him.
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