Roger Lawrence's Reviews > Harlequin

Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell
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's review
Apr 19, 2012

really liked it
Read from April 19 to 27, 2012

Harlequin was a great take on the Anglo-French wars of the 14th century. Thomas of Hookton is very much in the vein of a young Richard Sharpe (by the same author) inasmuch as he's a hardened warrior from a young age, an orphan, good looking, and despite being a bastard on the battlefield, he's got more chivalry than the poncing knights around him.

He has good friends, there when needed. And as with good friends, there are multiple layers of antagonists too. As an archer, he's the equivalent of the rifleman in the Napoleonic conflicts. Although perhaps not quite as elite, definitely a soldiers soldier, and a master at his craft.

As with Sharpe, you see strategic battles and campaigns through the eyes of the common man. And as such you get to experience viscerally the horrors, triumphs, ecstacies, and pure evil that is war. You understand that skill plays a huge part, but so does luck. The good do evil, the evil do good, and it all comes out in a superb narrative filled with twists and turns.

The women play a role too. The shrewd, and downright manipulative aristocracy, but then survival needs must; and the illegitimate noble/commoner. Devout, doggedly loyal, but pragmatic all the same.

This is a cracking read, and I'm onto the 2nd of the trilogy, Vagabond.

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