The Archer's Tale

by Bernard Cornwell

"The treasure of Hookton was stolen on Easter morning 1342. It
was a holy thing, a relic that hung from the Church rafters and it
was extraordinary that so precious an object should have been kept
in such an obscure village. Some folk said it had no business being
there, that it should have been enshrined in a cathedral or some
great abbey, while others, many others, said it was not

Whether the treasure was genuine or not, one young archer named
Thomas of Hookton believed in the lance of St. George. That Easter
morning, the French launched a brutal attack on the tiny village,
slaughtering the townsfolk with a vengeful fury while in search of
their plunder. Among the casualties was Thomas's father, Father
Ralph. As the old priest took his last breaths, lying on the floor
of his church, he wrested a vow from his son to retrieve the great

Now Thomas joins King Edward III's army as a vehicle to fulfill his
promise to the dying man. Many fierce and gory battles are fought.
Much hacking and bludgeoning, stabbing and gouging, piercing and
pillaging bloody the pages. In the midst of his pursuit of the
blackened and bent-shafted sword, Thomas is entreated to expand his
quest. His new goal: The Holy Grail itself. What he finds at the
end is what he wants most. Can he have it, though? The archer faces
a life-altering dilemma as the book draws to a close. He has grown
wiser with each obstacle encountered. Now he is learning, along
with most of us, that fulfilling our own desires may not be our lot
in life --- that much, much more is expected of us.

Historically accurate in all but a couple of the battles, THE
ARCHER'S TALE is a very adult new-age fable, complete with a modern
moral to the story. Bernard Cornwell combines romance with
adventure, a bit of myth, and even a whimsical touch of the fairy
tale in this vivid drama of a little piece of history. His
characters are a rough-and-tumble bunch, not given to the softer
emotions in life, but a fearsome band of bowmen used to fighting
foes with a bloodlust equal to their own. The villains are
horrible, owing to the cruel times Cornwell is depicting --- the
beginning of The Hundred Years War. The heroes seem hardly better,
barbaric and coarse, but at least they possess a noble sense of
fair play in the rules of combat and chivalry. There is about them
an aura of righteousness and holy purpose.

Young Thomas, despite his tender years, never wavers from his
course. His thirst for restoration and retribution is strong, but
he finds himself grappling with his own human desires. His tale
illustrates the need for setting goals and priorities for oneself
and following through, even when faced with difficult odds and far
more appealing choices.

Written in a straightforward manner, THE ARCHER'S TALE unfolds as a
gripping story of ancient war and love bonded to a short period of
time in European history. The characters are compelling enough to
keep you reading long into your evening. And when you turn the last
page and devour the final paragraphs, I believe you, like I, will
hope this is the first book in a series.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers ( on January 20, 2011

The Archer's Tale
by Bernard Cornwell

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0066210844
  • ISBN-13: 9780066210841