The battle of Agincourt has been and won and yet the Hundred Years war rages on. The English are loose in France and causing havoc but there is a new threat to Henry and his ambitions; a weapon that can wreak ruin and destruction on his army. It is a sword, but one that is much more than a mere weapon, it is a symbol. A seemingly indestructible and magical sword, imbued with mystical powers. It is the sword that Peter, the apostle of Christ, used to attack the Romans with in the Garden of Gethsemane. And Thomas of Hookton - Le Batard - and his heretic wife must search for and render useless this apocalyptic device.
1356 continues the story of Thomas of Hookton, a bastard who was enlisted in the army of the King as an archer and has risen to become a leader of his own band of ruthless and savage soldiers. It is the story of his quest to render harmless a major threat to the English and to once more help his King to prevail.
If you are a fan of Bernard Cornwell then you will know to expect a thrilling story, beautifully told and filled with amazingly accurate period detail. His descriptions of the archers, their life, their training and the terrible deadliness of them will hold you enthralled. The story rattles along at breathtaking pace, and the characters are finely and superbly drawn. One comes to know them, to love or hate them and to respect them.
1356 follows on from Cornwell's earlier novel, 'Azincourt' which in itself was a triumph, and this current book doesn not in any way dsappoint.
I am a fan of this author, although not so much of his books on Norsemen nor the Arthurian legend, but the series of books beginning with 'Harlequin'
which also feature an English archer are amongst the best I have read in terms of plotline, action and accuarate detail. Bernard Cornwell has also written a series of crime and adventure novels, all with a sailing background. Amongst these are 'Scoundrel' and 'Crackdown'
. If you have not read any, then I would suggest that you do. They are, again, excellent thrillers, filled with detail and cracking plots.
Bernard Cornwell's research is thorough and deep, and his descriptions of the time and the place are almost tangible. One can imagine all too easily the smells, the tastes and the climate of the time, and the pictures drawn in words of the castles, keeps and battlegrounds resonate with a trueness that can only be displayed by extensive research and visiting of the area.
A very, very good book, and if you were to read only one book this or next year, then this should be the one.