By Bernard Cornwell
Heretic is the final book in the Grail series by Cornwell. It picks up where Vagabond left off.
Thomas is fighting in Calais when he decides to continue his search for the Grail. He takes a small band of mercenaries to France where he believes his cousin, who is also hunting the Grail, may be and captures a small village. He rides out looting neighboring settlements attempting to lure his cousin to him. Once again, a woman becomes the root of his troubles.
On taking over the village, he pardons a woman being held captive in the castle who was named a heretic by the local priests and refuses to burn her at the stake. He falls for her, and so does one his men who is also a good friend, and it becomes a dividing point between the two. Before he has the opportunity the fight his cousin, he’s fighting his own men and being cast out as a heretic himself. It’s devastating for him but he still doesn’t give up the search, wondering about god’s plan and his own place in the world.
I flew through this book. For some reason, I needed to know what happened to Thomas. During this series, he gets captured several times, hung, tortured, becomes a leader, falls in and out of love, loses his faith, and finds it again. While I did feel a tinge of sorrow for him, he didn’t let you down. He was so driven to find his cousin and keep him from the Grail and, while his quest was single minded, he wasn’t and that made him very likable.
This book, as with all three in this series, is violent. Deaths are described in graphic detail as well as a few torture scenes. It’s not for the fainthearted. If you’re the type of reader that will skip disturbing scenes, that might not work in this book. You’d end up skipping so much that you’d miss a good portion of the book. It’s these battles and hard to read scenes that make these characters as good as they are. Cornwell has a way with warfare — it’s very real, sad, dirty, and disgusting. It does make the series what it is though.