A brutal raid on the quiet coastal English village of Hookton in 1342 leaves but one survivor: a young archer named Thomas. On this terrible dawn, his purpose becomes clear -- to recover a stolen sacred relic and pursue to the ends of the earth the murderous black-clad knight bearing a blue-and-yellow standard, a journey that leads him to the courageous rescue of a beautiful French woman, and sets him on his ultimate quest: the search for the Holy Grail.
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December 12, 2006
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Excerpt from The Archer's Tale by Bernard Cornwell
It was winter. A cold morning wind blew from the sea bringing a sour salt smell and a spitting rain that would inevitably sap the power of the bowstrings if it did not let up.
"What it is," Jake said, "is a waste of goddamn time."
No one took any notice of him.
"Could have stayed in Brest," Jake grumbled, "been sitting by a fire. Drinking ale."
Again he was ignored.
"Funny name for a town," Sam said after a long while. "Brest. I like it, though." He looked at the archers. "Maybe we'll see the Blackbird again?" he suggested.
"Maybe she'll put a bolt through your tongue," Will Skeat growled, "and do us all a favor."
The Blackbird was a woman who fought from the town walls every time the army made an assault. She was young, had black hair, wore a black cloak and shot a crossbow. In the first assault, when Will Skeat's archers had been in the vanguard of the attack and had lost four men, they had been close enough to see the Blackbird clearly and they had all thought her beautiful, though after a winter campaign of failure, cold, mud and hunger, almost any woman looked beautiful. Still, there was something special about the Blackbird.