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Thomas of Hookton is a young man but already a seasoned veteran of King Edward's army. His fearlessness and uncanny prowess with the longbow make him a natural leader in what will be remembered as the Hundred Years' War. Accompanied by a small but able band of soldiers -- among them Sir Guillaume (a landless lord seeking to regain his fortune as a mercenary) and Robbie Douglas (a Scottish prisoner spared by Thomas, and who now serves him loyally) Thomas is sent to Gascony to capture the castle of Astarac. But he has ulterior motives for accepting the charge: Gascony is the home both of his forebears and of the black knight -- Guy de Vexille -- who brutally slaughtered his father, a priest, when Thomas was a lad. It is also reputed to be the place where the Grail was last seen.
While capturing Astarac, Thomas learns of a tragedy in the making: a beautiful young woman named Genevieve, innocent if not pious, is to be burned as a heretic for refusing to adhere to the strict religious guidelines of the day. Thomas prevents the corrupt local priest from carrying out his "God given" duty -- a sacrilege that taints Thomas with the same heretical brush, and which turns him into an outcast, even among his own men. Eventually he and Genevieve have no choice but to flee across a landscape of blood and fire. While hidden away at a monastery, they learn of a plot involving the creation of animitation Grail for a diabolical end, and they witness' the murder of a trusted priest at the hands of the man Thomas has been chasing his entire adult life -- Guy de Vexille.
At last reconciled with his allies, Thomas leads his brave band in a bloody battle to the death, the outcome of which could determine the seat of power -- and the direction of Christendom -- forevermore.
An epic saga steeped in myth and legend, "Heretic presents a portrait of the fourteenth century -- and, especially, of the fate of the Holy Grail -- as only master storyteller Bernard Cornwell can.
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