Tomid Tomid's Reviews > Harlequin

Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell
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Jan 19, 2010

bookshelves: currently-reading

Just finished the prologue. Am reading this concurrently with another Cornwell book, Azincourt, set 100 years later. I had high hopes to begin with because Cornwell has such a high reputation. But both these books are weird. Harlequin is more so.

Lines like "John farted and everyone laughed" and "somebody went for a piss" cause my eyebrows to ascend on most pages because I didn't expect such juvenile coarseness from the merry old gentleman pictured on the first page. Does the author really need to be coarse in order to make his coarse characters sound coarse? I don't think so. Then there are lines like "I'll pray by God's bowels that I will get revenge". God's bowels?

Most of the rest of the writing is quite good at building the medieval atmosphere I crave. The weirdest thing so far occurred between pages 10 and 11. The treasure is revealed to be the lance that England's St. George used to kill the dragon. Wha? If it had been the lance used to pierce Jesus' side when he was on the cross then that would have been historically verifiable. But dragons? Is this book one of historical fiction, or fantasy? I don't want to read fantasy.

And as for the lance being England's lance, because St. George is England's patron saint. Er, St. George has been claimed by lots of countries and territories. George almost certainly never visited the British Isles (or even western Europe), and lived several centuries before the country we call England came into existence. We adopted him as our saint because we needed a famous warmonger to inspire our troops during the crusades.

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Reading Progress

01/19/2010 page 33

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