Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sharpe with a Medieval Twist; Books

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sharpe with a Medieval Twist; Books

Article excerpt

Byline: T J BINYON

VAGABOND by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins, pound sterling17.99)

VAGABOND is the second in Bernard Cornwell's Grail Quest series. The first, Harlequin, introduced the hero, Thomas of Hookton, an archer in the English army at the time of the Hundred Years War, and concluded with the defeat of the French at Crecy in 1346.

Thomas is now back in England, searching for evidence as to the whereabouts of the Grail, which his crazed father - a priest (Thomas is illegitimate) and Cathar from southern France, now dead - claimed he once possessed.

But the quest has become difficult: powerful interests have joined the search.

Whereas each of the Sharpe novels has a discrete plot, the series being held together only by Sharpe's army record, the Grail Quest is constructed the other way round: each novel is an episode in an overarching plot and has less of an independent existence. This seems especially true of Vagabond: though Thomas acquires a companion - Robbie Wallace, an enterprising young Scot - and a bitter enemy - Sir Geoffrey Carr, adept at taking out a man's eye with the iron claw at the end of his whip - the narrative meanders on without much direction while we wait for the next twist. …

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