Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Just finished reading "The Heretic"

This is only the second Bernard Cornwell book I've read, and I loved it. OK, so it wasn't particularly deep, but I was rooting for the hero and the plot zipped along like an express train, which is just what I wanted.

The hero is Thomas, an English archer tootling around France in 1347. Since this is during the Hundred Years' War, it's not the healthiest place to be. He's trying to find his French cousin, Guy, before Guy can find him first and kill him. He's fallen in love with a heretic (who's not such a heretic after all) and saves her from burning, so now the Church is after him as well. And meanwhile, his liege lord expects him to find the Grail.

I really ought to re-read it to study the technique, but here's one thing I noticed in passing. As Thomas's friend Robbie rides towards a monastery, one of the archers with him says, "We'll kill him, then the rest won't be no trouble."

Robbie snaps back, "You'll kill no one."

That exchange makes Robbie look good. Without it, at this point they're just a bunch of brigands raiding the countryside. This was probably normal behaviour at the time, but it doesn't endear you to modern readers, at least not this one.

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