Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1356 - Bernard Cornwell

First line: "He was late."

Renowned historical fiction writer Bernard Cornwell sets his sights on fourteenth century France in his newest novel, 1356. The English armies, led by Prince Edward, "The Black Prince," are threatening the French. The King of France has been reluctant to deal with Edward, but will soon have no choice.

In the midst of all the preparations for the upcoming confrontation are rumors of a weapon--the weapon. La Malice, the sword Saint Peter had in the Garden of Gethsemane. Both the English and the French are secretly trying to obtain the sword in the hopes that it will secure their victory.

Thomas of Hookton is an English archer. He's been given the task of finding la Malice, but at what cost is the acquisition of this sword? Is it worth putting himself and his family at risk? And will unearthing it be positive or will it only bring about more devastation? With a rag-a-muffin crew of unlikely heroes, Hookton sets out to find the answers.

1356 is steeped in incredible history and Cornwell's obvious knowledge of the period comes through in every element of the book. The authenticity of the battle scenes will make readers feel as though they are plopped in the midst of the fighting.

The search for la Malice keeps the suspense high and the momentum of the plot moving forward amidst all the historical elements. And Cornwell's characters are expertly constructed to delineate the "good guys" from the "bad guys" against the backdrop of a war where that line isn't quite so clear.

The icing on this tasty reading treat is Cornwell's sharp wit sprinkled throughout. 1356 is sure to delight historical and military fiction fans as well as readers who appreciate strong character novels.

1356 is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780061969676) from Harper and as an unabridged audiobook (ISBN: 9780062237644) from HarperAudio, narrated by Jack Hawkins.

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