Cover image for Heretic
Title:
Heretic
Author:
Cornwell, Bernard.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
355 pages ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Originally published in Great Britain in 2003 by HarperCollins.
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.8 20.0 126468.
ISBN:
9780060530495
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

From New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, the sequel to The Archer's Tale and Vagabond--the spellbinding tale of a young man, a fearless archer, who sets out wanting to avenge his family's honor and winds up on a quest for the Holy Grail.

Already a seasoned veteran of King Edward's army, young Thomas of Hookton possesses the fearlessness of a born leader and an uncanny prowess with the longbow. Now, at the head of a small but able band of soldiers, he has been dispatched to capture the castle of Astarac. But more than duty to his liege has brought him to Gascony, home of his forebears and the hated black knight who brutally slew Thomas's father. It is also the last place where the Holy Grail was reported seen. Here, also, a beautiful and innocent, if not pious, woman is to be burned as a heretic. Saving the lady, Genevieve, from her dread fate will brand Thomas an infidel, forcing them to flee together across a landscape of blood and fire. And what looms ahead is a battle to the death that could ultimately shape the future of Christendom.


Author Notes

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, England, on February 23, 1944, and came to the United States in 1980. He received a B.A. from the University of London in 1967.

Cornwell served as producer of the British Broadcasting Corporation from 1969-1976. After this he was head of current affairs for BBC-TV in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1979 he became editor of television news for Thames Television of London. Since 1980 he has been a freelance writer. he lives with his wife on Cape Cod.

Cornwell's Sharpe series, adventure stories about a British soldier set in the Peninsula War of 1808-1814, are built on the author's interest in the Duke of Wellington's army. Titles include Sharpe's Rifles, Sharpe's Revenge, Sharpe's Siege, Sharpe's Regiment, and Sharpe's Waterloo. The Last Kingdom series has ten books. Book ten, The Flame Bearer is on the bestsellers list. He has also written other works including Wildtrack, Killer's Wake, Sea Lord, Stormchild, Rebel, Copperhead, and Battle Flag. His title Death of Kings made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2012 and In 2014 his title The Pagan Lord made the list again.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Oct. 7) Forecast: The Grail Quest books sell even faster than Cornwell's popular Napoleonic War series, and this is the best in the series so far. Expect it to fly off shelves. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Cornwell's latest entry in the "Grail Quest" series (The Archer's Tale; Vagabond) opens in 1347, as Thomas, a talented archer, arrives in France in time to fight alongside the Earl of Northampton. With the Hundred Years War still raging, Thomas hopes that the earl will allow him to command Will Skeat's archers, but instead he wants Thomas to pursue the Holy Grail, directing him and the archers to Thomas's ancestral home of Astarac in Gascony, where the grail is now believed to be hidden. In Gascony, Thomas meets the beautiful heretic Genevieve, who, like Thomas, was tortured by church inquisitors. He saves her from death at the stake, boldly thwarting church ruling and thereby damaging his command, his friendships, and his search for the grail. Outcast and on the run, Thomas is once again challenged by his cousin and bitter enemy, Guy Vexille. Cornwell delivers intense and detailed battle action to illustrate just how mad men will be driven by the grail. Though at times the complex plot seems unwieldy, Heretic ultimately satisfies. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/03.]-Jean Langlais, St. Charles P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Heretic Chapter One The Count of Berat was old, pious and learned. He had lived sixty-five years and liked to boast that he had not left his fiefdom for the last forty of them. His stronghold was the great castle of Berat. It stood on a limestone hill above the town of Berat, which was almost surrounded by the River Berat that made the county of Berat so fertile. There were olives, grapes, pears, plums, barley and women. The Count liked them all. He had married five times, each new wife younger than the last, but none had provided him with a child. He had not even spawned a bastard on a milkmaid though, God knew, it was not for lack of trying. That absence of children had persuaded the Count that God had cursed him and so in his old age he had surrounded himself with priests. The town had a cathedral and eighteen churches, with a bishop, canons and priests to fill them, and there was a house of Dominican friars by the east gate. The Count blessed the town with two new churches and built a convent high on the western hill across the river and beyond the vineyards. He employed a chaplain and, at great expense, he purchased a handful of the straw that had lined the manger in which the baby Jesus had been laid at his birth. The Count encased the straw in crystal, gold and gems, and placed the reliquary on the altar of the castle's chapel and prayed to it each day, but even that sacred talisman did not help. His fifth wife was seventeen and plump and healthy and, like the others, barren. At first the Count suspected that he had been cheated in his purchase of the holy straw, but his chaplain assured him that the relic had come from the papal palace at Avignon and produced a letter signed by the Holy Father himself guaranteeing that the straw was indeed the Christ-child's bedding. Then the Count had his new wife examined by four eminent doctors and those worthies decreed that her urine was clear, her parts whole and her appetites healthy, and so the Count employed his own learning in search of an heir. Hippocrates had written of the effect of pictures on conception and so the Count ordered a painter to decorate the walls of his wife's bedchamber with pictures of the Virgin and child; he ate red beans and kept his rooms warm. Nothing worked. It was not the Count's fault, he knew that. He had planted barley seeds in two pots and watered one with his new wife's urine and one with his own, and both pots had sprouted seedlings and that, the doctors said, proved that both the Count and Countess were fertile. Which meant, the Count had decided, that he was cursed. So he turned more avidly to religion because he knew he did not have much time left. Aristotle had written that the age of seventy was the limit of a man's ability, and so the Count had just five years to work his miracle. Then, one autumn morning, though he did not realize it at the time, his prayers were answered. Churchmen came from Paris. Three priests and a monk arrived at Berat and they brought a letter from Louis Bessières, Cardinal and Archbishop of Livorno, Papal Legate to the Court of France, and the letter was humble, respectful and threatening. It requested that Brother Jerome, a young monk of formidable learning, be allowed to examine the records of Berat. "It is well known to us," the Cardinal Archbishop had written in elegant Latin, "that you possess a great love of all manuscripts, both pagan and Christian, and so entreat you, for the love of Christ and for the furtherance of His kingdom, to allow our Brother Jerome to examine your muniments." Which was fine, so far as it went, for the Count of Berat did indeed possess a library and a manuscript collection that was probably the most extensive in all Gascony, if not in all southern Christendom, but what the letter did not make clear was why the Cardinal Archbishop was so interested in the castle's muniments. As for the reference to pagan works, that was a threat. Refuse this request, the Cardinal Archbishop was saying, and I shall set the holy dogs of the Dominicans and the Inquisitors onto your county and they will find that the pagan works encourage heresy. Then the trials and the burnings would begin, neither of which would affect the Count directly, but there would be indulgences to buy if his soul was not to be damned. The Church had a glutton's appetite for money and everyone knew the Count of Berat was rich. So the Count did not want to offend the Cardinal Archbishop, but he did want to know why His Eminence had suddenly become interested in Berat. Which was why the Count had summoned Father Roubert, the chief Dominican in the town of Berat, to the great hall of the castle, which had long ceased to be a place of feasting, but instead was lined with shelves on which old documents moldered and precious handwritten books were wrapped in oiled leather. Father Roubert was just thirty-two years old. He was the son of a tanner in the town and had risen in the Church thanks to the Count's patronage. He was very tall, very stern, with black hair cut so short that it reminded the Count of the stiff-bristled brushes the armorers used to burnish the coats of mail. Father Roubert was also, this fine morning, angry. "I have business in Castillon d'Arbizon tomorrow," he said, "and will need to leave within the hour if I am to reach the town in daylight." The Count ignored the rudeness in Father Roubert's tone. The Dominican liked to treat the Count as an equal, an impudence the Count tolerated because it amused him ... Heretic . Copyright © by Bernard Cornwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Heretic by Bernard Cornwell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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