1356 – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

The Long Earth by: Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The St. Zita Society by: Ruth Rendell

The War of the Roses  by: Alison Weir

Other Books I’m Reading:

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson (And the giant clock still continues to tick.)

I always like a good MacGuffin.  They make me smile inside.  1356 by Bernard Cornwell presents us with another fine MacGuffin.  Which is appropriate as the book is the follow up to his Grail Quest Series.  Which also had a fine MacGuffin in the form of the Holy Grail.

In 1356 we are treated to a chase across France after the Sword of St. Peter.  The sword, one of many things that Joseph of Arimathea seems to have dumped in England, is supposedly the sword that Jesus stopped St. Peter from using on the night Jesus was arrested.  As such it is either holy, or cursed.  Maybe both.  Throw in a priest with a bird that blinds people, a cardinal that wants to be Pope, some Scotts,  an English Prince, several armies of varying size, a French King,  a virgin knight, and a countess who is seriously not a virgin.  Now there is an adventure.

Sir Thomas of Hookton, returning hero of the Grail Quest series is ordered by his English liege Lord to find the sword.  Thomas who seems to be living happily in France as a war lord for hire, is not thrilled but can’t seem to escape involvement.  A constant theme in poor old Tom’s life.

I did not review the books in the Grail Quest series when I read them.  I didn’t hate them. I didn’t love them.  I assumed the subject matter was the problem.  Grail lore is just not my thing.  I hope some day they find dozens of first century clay cups in Glastonbury.  It would do my heart good.  However, 1356 leaves me with the meh as well.  It is not bad.  It is not great.  I enjoyed reading the book.  It was nice to have some follow up on Thomas. I probably would never read it again.  I can think of other books by the same author that I’d much rather reread.

There are of course the usual number of bloody battle scenes and rape victims everywhere.

I think the interesting part of this for me is what Cornwell is going to do next with this series.  If he does anything at all.  Both the Sword and the Grail have been disposed of by Sir Thomas in fairly lackadaisical ways.  It is entirely possible one or both could be resurrected.  Not entirely unlike another far more famous MacGuffin, the Ark of the Covenant.  Government facilities being what they are.

Enjoyability:  I give it four stars.  Not the best ever.  But good.

Where to read this book:  I probably should have taken this one the coffee shop.

Further reading:  Probably The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett.  I’m fascinated.  There is a character in it named Percy Blakeney.  Two points for anyone who can tell me without looking it up, what other Percy Blakeney I’m thinking of.


Posted on March 28, 2013, in Fiction, Reading, review, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Why Pratchett and Baxter chose to name that character Percy Blakeney remains a mystery. There’s nothing even vaguely Pimpernel-ish about the character! So don’t bother reading the book unless for other reasons 🙂

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