The Archer’s Tale
By Bernard Cornwell
Thomas is protecting the Treasure of Hookton, a holy relic, on the eve of Easter when his English village is attacked by the French. The place is ransacked, men murdered, women raped and kidnapped, homes burned, and everything worth stealing, stolen, including the Treasure. In an attempt to save his home, Thomas takes up his bow against the invaders. A son of a priest, Thomas promises his dying father to bring the relic back. He also silently swears to avenge his death.
He soon finds himself in the English army marching through France. Smart and very skilled with his bow, he rises fast among the archers. His conscience, in the form of a friend and fellow soldier named Father Hobbes, keeps reminding him of his promise to his father and his god, which Thomas would rather forget. Unfortunately for Thomas, his road to redemption is not easy. He runs afoul of a knight, and in an effort to help a lady, finds himself hanged. He survives and once again finds himself an archer only this time facing enemies he didn’t know he had and a large French army wanting very much to kill him.
The last month, every book I checked out of the library was set in the 14th Century. It was all coincidence but I’m enjoying the setting.
This is my fifth Cornwell novel this year. I like his writing, enjoy the characters immensely, and like the action, which in some way is always attached to an army. While I liked this book, I didn’t like it as much as the others I read. No reason really, just didn’t get into it as much.
Thomas is an engaging character but I felt bad for him the entire time. His family was killed, home wrecked, a friend constantly reminds of any bit of guilt he might feel, and he’s not so lucky with the ladies. There is a good villain though, Sir Simon, who has it out for Thomas and a few other characters which make it interesting. There’s a lot of information and characters in this book that will obviously feature heavily in the sequel so I’m looking forward to Vagabond to tie up a few loose ends.