Heretic (The Grail Quest, Book 3)

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9780060530495: Heretic (The Grail Quest, Book 3)

From New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, the sequel to The Archer’s Tale and Vagabond—the spellbinding tale of a young man, a fearless archer, who sets out wanting to avenge his family’s honor and winds up on a quest for the Holy Grail.

Already a seasoned veteran of King Edward's army, young Thomas of Hookton possesses the fearlessness of a born leader and an uncanny prowess with the longbow. Now, at the head of a small but able band of soldiers, he has been dispatched to capture the castle of Astarac. But more than duty to his liege has brought him to Gascony, home of his forebears and the hated black knight who brutally slew Thomas's father. It is also the last place where the Holy Grail was reported seen. Here, also, a beautiful and innocent, if not pious, woman is to be burned as a heretic. Saving the lady, Genevieve, from her dread fate will brand Thomas an infidel, forcing them to flee together across a landscape of blood and fire. And what looms ahead is a battle to the death that could ultimately shape the future of Christendom.

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From the Back Cover:

New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell has written his masterpiece, a roiling saga about love, honor, belief -- and, above aft, about bravery in its many forms -- in which a young warrior's religious heritage sets him on a quest for a mysterious treasure rumored to be the Holy Grail itself.

Thomas of Hookton is a young man but already a seasoned veteran of King Edward's army. His fearlessness and uncanny prowess with the longbow make him a natural leader in what will be remembered as the Hundred Years' War. Accompanied by a small but able band of soldiers -- among them Sir Guillaume (a landless lord seeking to regain his fortune as a mercenary) and Robbie Douglas (a Scottish prisoner spared by Thomas, and who now serves him loyally) Thomas is sent to Gascony to capture the castle of Astarac. But he has ulterior motives for accepting the charge: Gascony is the home both of his forebears and of the black knight -- Guy de Vexille -- who brutally slaughtered his father, a priest, when Thomas was a lad. It is also reputed to be the place where the Grail was last seen.

While capturing Astarac, Thomas learns of a tragedy in the making: a beautiful young woman named Genevieve, innocent if not pious, is to be burned as a heretic for refusing to adhere to the strict religious guidelines of the day. Thomas prevents the corrupt local priest from carrying out his "God given" duty -- a sacrilege that taints Thomas with the same heretical brush, and which turns him into an outcast, even among his own men. Eventually he and Genevieve have no choice but to flee across a landscape of blood and fire. While hidden away at a monastery, they learn of a plot involving the creation of an imitation Grail for a diabolical end, and they witness' the murder of a trusted priest at the hands of the man Thomas has been chasing his entire adult life -- Guy de Vexille.

At last reconciled with his allies, Thomas leads his brave band in a bloody battle to the death, the outcome of which could determine the seat of power -- and the direction of Christendom -- forevermore.

An epic saga steeped in myth and legend, Heretic presents a portrait of the fourteenth century -- and, especially, of the fate of the Holy Grail -- as only master storyteller Bernard Cornwell can.

About the Author:

BERNARD CORNWELL is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales series, which includes The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, and, most recently, The Empty Throne and Warriors of the Storm, and which serves as the basis for the hit television series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.

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