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1356: Go with God, but Fight Like the Devil

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Go with God and Fight Like the Devil. A fascinating hero and the pursuit of a sword with mythical power - this is the remarkable new novel by Britain’s master storyteller, which culminates at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. Thomas of Hookton, a veteran of Crecy and many other battles, is the leader of a mercenary company of bowmen and men-at-arms who ravage the countryside Go with God and Fight Like the Devil. A fascinating hero and the pursuit of a sword with mythical power - this is the remarkable new novel by Britain’s master storyteller, which culminates at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. Thomas of Hookton, a veteran of Crecy and many other battles, is the leader of a mercenary company of bowmen and men-at-arms who ravage the countryside east of Gascony. Edward, Prince of Wales, later to be known as the Black Prince, is assembling an army to fight the French once more but before Thomas can join, he must fulfil an urgent task. La Malice, a sword of mythical power guaranteeing victory to its owner, is thought to be concealed somewhere near Poitiers. With signs that a battle between the English and the French is looming others are seeking the treasure too, and some – French, Scots and even English – are pursuing their private agendas against Thomas. But all – Thomas of Hookton, his enemies and friends and the fate of La Malice – become swept up in the extraordinary confrontation that follows, as the large French army faces the heavily outnumbered English in battle.


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Go with God and Fight Like the Devil. A fascinating hero and the pursuit of a sword with mythical power - this is the remarkable new novel by Britain’s master storyteller, which culminates at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. Thomas of Hookton, a veteran of Crecy and many other battles, is the leader of a mercenary company of bowmen and men-at-arms who ravage the countryside Go with God and Fight Like the Devil. A fascinating hero and the pursuit of a sword with mythical power - this is the remarkable new novel by Britain’s master storyteller, which culminates at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. Thomas of Hookton, a veteran of Crecy and many other battles, is the leader of a mercenary company of bowmen and men-at-arms who ravage the countryside east of Gascony. Edward, Prince of Wales, later to be known as the Black Prince, is assembling an army to fight the French once more but before Thomas can join, he must fulfil an urgent task. La Malice, a sword of mythical power guaranteeing victory to its owner, is thought to be concealed somewhere near Poitiers. With signs that a battle between the English and the French is looming others are seeking the treasure too, and some – French, Scots and even English – are pursuing their private agendas against Thomas. But all – Thomas of Hookton, his enemies and friends and the fate of La Malice – become swept up in the extraordinary confrontation that follows, as the large French army faces the heavily outnumbered English in battle.

30 review for 1356: Go with God, but Fight Like the Devil

  1. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I enjoyed reading this library book very much--4.5 out of 5 stars--rounded up to 5. This is book 4 in The Grail Quest series, more of the adventures of Thomas of Hookton, an English archer. Thomas is now Sir Thomas and known as "le Batard." He has been hired by the Count of Labrouillade to retrieve his wife, who has run off with a man her own age. Thomas is now the head of a band of mercenaries. There are some well drawn characters: Count of Labrouillade--a nasty, fat pig of a man The Count's wife I enjoyed reading this library book very much--4.5 out of 5 stars--rounded up to 5. This is book 4 in The Grail Quest series, more of the adventures of Thomas of Hookton, an English archer. Thomas is now Sir Thomas and known as "le Batard." He has been hired by the Count of Labrouillade to retrieve his wife, who has run off with a man her own age. Thomas is now the head of a band of mercenaries. There are some well drawn characters: Count of Labrouillade--a nasty, fat pig of a man The Count's wife Bertrille-- a feisty woman Roland de Verrec--a young, very naive knight in search of a quest. He is still a virgin, believing that purity will help him win in battle. Cardinal Bessieres-- a cunning, evil man scheming to be the next pope Father Marchant-- a vile man who likes to torture people, in the name of god Sculley -- a scarred fighter, very formidable in battle All play a part in this novel of the battle of Poitiers. Most of the novel takes place before the battle. One of the author's strengths is portraying in a very down to earth manner how people lived during this period. You feel as if you were there.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kaora

    While this reads more like a standalone novel rather than a book in the Grail Series, it does reference some of the events in the other books so it is recommended that you pick this up only after you read the previous books. Thomas of Hookton is searching for another holy relic. Known as La Malice, it is the sword of St. Peter, who is believed to give its wielder victory in battle. But as the English face the French in a battle where they are outnumbered, he is called to action. I thought that thi While this reads more like a standalone novel rather than a book in the Grail Series, it does reference some of the events in the other books so it is recommended that you pick this up only after you read the previous books. Thomas of Hookton is searching for another holy relic. Known as La Malice, it is the sword of St. Peter, who is believed to give its wielder victory in battle. But as the English face the French in a battle where they are outnumbered, he is called to action. I thought that this book wasn't as action packed as some of the other books in this series, but does have an incredible battle scene at the end which won me over to 4 stars. The tie in between a real battle, and the fictional events is nothing short of amazing. Bernard Cornwell certainly does his research and makes everything seem authentic. I did enjoy catching up with some familiar faces including Thomas, Genevive and Robbie, as well as meeting some new faces. Recommended for fans of this series.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Clemens Schoonderwoert

    Read this book in 2012, and this book is the 4th part of "The Grail Quest" series, featuring Thomas of Hookton by Bernard Cornwell. This book is set in the Middle Ages, during the Hundred Years War, in the year AD 1356, and we find Thomas of Hookton in France. England is invading France again under the leadership of the Black Prince, and the french are trying to then down all over the country. It will all come down to the famous Battle of Poitiers in AD 1356, where Thomas and his archers will show Read this book in 2012, and this book is the 4th part of "The Grail Quest" series, featuring Thomas of Hookton by Bernard Cornwell. This book is set in the Middle Ages, during the Hundred Years War, in the year AD 1356, and we find Thomas of Hookton in France. England is invading France again under the leadership of the Black Prince, and the french are trying to then down all over the country. It will all come down to the famous Battle of Poitiers in AD 1356, where Thomas and his archers will show themselves as the most decisive factor that will result in a desparate but also definite victory for the English army over France, with at their head, the Black Prince of England. Highly recommended, for this is an excellent episode picturing the Hundred Years War and with it the hunger and burning, terrible atrocities and horrible deaths, with heroes and villains, and because of all that I like to call this book: "A Magnificent Battle Of Poitiers Tale"!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lolly's Library

    3.5 stars It took me a while for my attention to get drawn into this novel. Mainly because I discovered, only after I'd started reading the thing, that it's actually the fourth novel in Bernard Cornwell's Grail Quest series. Now, other people may have no problem picking up and reading a book from the middle of a series, but me? Um, yeah, that doesn't work for me. For better of worse, I tend to be rather OCD about book series: I hate reading books from the middle of one, and the idea of skipping a 3.5 stars It took me a while for my attention to get drawn into this novel. Mainly because I discovered, only after I'd started reading the thing, that it's actually the fourth novel in Bernard Cornwell's Grail Quest series. Now, other people may have no problem picking up and reading a book from the middle of a series, but me? Um, yeah, that doesn't work for me. For better of worse, I tend to be rather OCD about book series: I hate reading books from the middle of one, and the idea of skipping around, reading the books out of order, positively drives me bonkers, giving me an eye twitch and the beginnings of a foamy mouth. So when I found out 1356 was number four in a series, I nearly screamed.* I also nearly stopped reading. However, I have such a backlog of ARCs I need to read and review that the notion of me trying to plow through the first three books (and that's only if I were able to find them at my local, woefully lacking, library in the first place) while still keeping up with my other ARCs just so I could be comfortable reading 1356 nearly gave me the same eye twitch as the one I was trying to develop due to reading 1356 in the first place. (Damn, that was an exhausting sentence!) So I took myself in hand (which is an idiom I've always found vaguely naughty, most likely because of my brain's permanent dwelling place in a nice and comfy gutter), gave myself a stern talking to, and soldiered on with 1356, suffering only the occasional eye spasm in the process. I also had a rough beginning with this book as for the longest time I couldn't identify with or be sympathetic to any of the characters. It took some time for them to mean anything to me, even the main character, Sir Thomas Hookton, aka le Bâtard, leader of the Hellequin, a band of mercenaries working in France while serving under the aegis of the Earl of Northampton. Eventually, though, I warmed up to Thomas and his band, especially Brother Michael and the Irishman, Keane (the latter mainly due to his adoption of a couple of wolfhounds away from the Frenchmen who were hunting down him and Thomas; as an animal lover, it was a particularly satisfying scene). The story itself is interesting yet oddly forgettable. Revolving around a mythical sword said to be the sword of Saint Peter, a sword said to grant whoever bears it certain victory over his foes, both the French and English army have sent scouts to find it in order to aid their endeavors. (If the year of the book's title doesn't hold any significance for you, it was in that year the Battle of Poitiers took place, which was the second major engagement of the Hundred Years' War. Edward, also known as the Black Prince—for what reason is still debated among historians—the son of King Edward III, had raided France that year, his second chevauchée [a destructive raid designed to inflict severe economic disaster on the enemy] through that war-torn country, spurring King Jean II of France to pursue him. The two ultimately met at Poitiers, and even though the English army was outnumbered, road-weary, thirsty, and exhausted, and though the battle was long, the English came out on top, capturing around 2,000 members of the French aristocracy, including King Jean himself, whose ransom alone—six million gold écus—was equivalent to about a third of France's GNP.) So each side believes they are in the right and that this sword, la Malice, will bring God's wrath down upon their enemies. In between battle scenes and personal dramas revolving around Thomas and his band we watch as this sword gets shuffled around from place to place and from person to person as it falls into the hands of those who would hide it and those who would abuse it. Eventually it finds itself in the possession of Sculley, a wild Scotsman marginally under the control of the Lord of Douglas, on the side of King Jean. After a brief but bloody sword fight between Sculley and Thomas, the fate of la Malice was something of an anticlimax. Maybe that was the point, but it just seemed rather disappointing. And that was the overall sensation I took away from my reading experience. It just felt as though the book was missing something, as though I was only getting part of the story. Perhaps it's due to the fact that it is number four in a series. Perhaps it's better read as part of a whole, when all the pieces fit together into a larger, more detailed picture. I also have to disagree with the blurb on the cover from George R.R. Martin in which he states “Bernard Cornwell does the best battle scenes of any writer I've ever read, past or present.” Well, I'm very sorry George, but the author who writes the best battle scenes is still, to my mind, Conn Iggulden. Cornwell writes vivid, bloody, stirring scenes, to be sure, but they're nowhere near as atmospheric and breath-taking as Iggulden's. That's not to say Cornwell's writing is flawed. I've read his Warlord Chronicles, which tackled the story of King Arthur, and like those books, 1356 is a cracking good read. The dialogue is fast-paced, accessible without being overly-anachronistic, the story moves along and keeps your attention, doling out information in just the right amount without slowing down the action, and he allows the characters to develop as the story moves along so that by the end, though they may not be complex creatures, they're far from cardboard cutouts. At least for his “good guys”; Cornwell's bad guys in this novel tend to suffer slightly from the Black Hat Syndrome in that they're after one thing or one person, their motives for going after that thing or person are narrowly drawn (i.e. revenge or greed or simply because they're a black-hearted knave who loves being bad), and as such become near-caricatures of people. Basically, they're villains because they're villains and nothing more. Thomas is the most three-dimensional character of all; he's obviously one of the good 'uns, yet he does shady, even downright criminal things, he has conflicting emotions between what he's doing and what he should be doing—basically he behaves like a human being, especially one who's often placed between a rock and a hard place and must choose the lesser of two evils in order to move. (Two clichés in one sentence, woo hoo!) That said, I suppose the goal of most writers is for you, as the reader, to empathize with the good guys and Cornwell certainly accomplishes that. Or at least for me he did. Every time one of the characters found themselves in a perilous situation, I suffered along with them, heart beating rapidly, palms sweating, lips gnawed raw as my eyes zoomed across the page, reading as fast as I could in the hope that the character would soon find an escape. So, yeah, despite some flaws and a slow start, in the end I would recommend this book as a good read. However, I do believe it would've been even better had I gotten to it after first reading the three books that came before it. *It doesn't help that this brought up one of my biggest pet-peeves about book publishing: Why can't publishers identify a book that's part of a series? How difficult would it be to put a small number somewhere on the spine, or place, in small typeset, a sentence somewhere on the front cover informing potential readers that the book they're holding is #__ in a series? Or, at the very least, place a page at the front of the book listing the titles, in chronological order, that belong to a particular series, allowing the person holding said book to exclaim, “Hey, this is book #4 in the series! I need to read these other books first!” Really, would it put such a huge dent in their bottom line? I think not. In fact, doing so would encourage more sales, in my not-so-humble opinion: First of all, people wouldn't get pissed off about picking up a book in the middle of a series, and secondly, in my experience, people like to buy in bulk, so when they find the first (clearly labeled) book in a series, they tend to pick up the second one at the same time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    Nobody look as I try and slip this review through my updates and sweep it under the rug forever. Oh the excruciating pain of it. I have been such a fan of Cornwell for so long that I feel guilt and embarrassment at my reaction to this book. I had really liked the Grail Quest series and Thomas of Hookton. I had been so excited to discover that after all those years there was to be a fourth instalment. There may have even been a happy dance involved when I heard he was writing a fourth book in the Nobody look as I try and slip this review through my updates and sweep it under the rug forever. Oh the excruciating pain of it. I have been such a fan of Cornwell for so long that I feel guilt and embarrassment at my reaction to this book. I had really liked the Grail Quest series and Thomas of Hookton. I had been so excited to discover that after all those years there was to be a fourth instalment. There may have even been a happy dance involved when I heard he was writing a fourth book in the series. But this was not the instalment I had expected and it appears I wasted good energy on that happy dance. To be honest, I do not think I am Cornwell's target audience anymore. I am not seeing the poetry and prose that I once did in his books. Instead, in the last two books I have read by him, Azincourt and 1356, I am seeing simply written pulp fiction. In saying this, I do believe that no author is perfect - even when it is the Grand Wizard of Historical Fiction - and since I have liked and loved 11 Cornwell books in the past then surely loathing two now is acceptable to the world of literary yin and yang. I worship the Saxon series. It is the series that spurred my love of the historical fiction genre. Book seven of that series is due for release and upon reading an excerpt of that book, The Pagan Lord, I see that same poetic style of writing that brought me to the Bernard Cornwell band wagon. As for 1356 though, it is not for me and I have decided never to get excited about any other Cornwell release again, unless it is a release in the Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories.

  6. 5 out of 5

    HBalikov

    Thomas of Hookton, he of the Grailquest trilogy, is brought out of inventory for Cornwell's 1356, and given a chance to participate in one of England's greatest battles, Poitiers. Hookton may remind you of that character, Indiana Jones. He searches after artifacts, masters weapons, is shrewd, and speaks several languages...all of which prove valuable. But Thomas, in his fourth adventure is more like Jones in his first, Raiders of the Lost Ark, than his fourth, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, becau Thomas of Hookton, he of the Grailquest trilogy, is brought out of inventory for Cornwell's 1356, and given a chance to participate in one of England's greatest battles, Poitiers. Hookton may remind you of that character, Indiana Jones. He searches after artifacts, masters weapons, is shrewd, and speaks several languages...all of which prove valuable. But Thomas, in his fourth adventure is more like Jones in his first, Raiders of the Lost Ark, than his fourth, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, because this story is as much about adventure as about a historical battle. And, like Raiders, it comes complete with humor and camaraderie. Cornwell, a prolific writer of historical fiction, is known for his research and skill in getting battle scenes right. I have always found him able to bring any particular historical period to life, mostly because he invests much of his energy in portraying how common people actually were able to live through perilous times. Thomas of Hookton may not be his most complete hero, or even his most interesting, but this is a lively story that has a full range of characters: good nobles and bad, good priests and bad, women who are too different to live comfortably by their societies' rules, and, the stuff that kings were involved with in the days of waning chivalry. This is the period of the Black Death, The Hundred Years War, and Edward III on England's throne. England claims the French Throne as well and controls a substantial part of France. Bands of English soldiers roam the French countryside trying to provoke a battle with the French king. Thomas is the leader of one of those bands and we find ourselves with him as he tries to make the best of a hard life and comes to pursue another ancient relic that may determine the outcome of this protracted war. The first half of the book deals with several delicate moral and legal issues with regard to hired soldiers serving a noble for less than noble ends and their duties and obligations when that noble reneges on their agreement. The second half of the book begins when Thomas gets word of that the Prince of Wales is in France gathering his forces for a confrontation with the King of France. Cornwell sets up a series of plot-driven tornadoes that continue to swirl around the central hurricane that is building in the region of France then known as Poitou. Very entertaining and enlightening, if you enjoy the nuances of this period of English history. Cornwell is a master at providing an "everyman's view" of important historical events. [Ten years before this battle, the French had been devastated by the English at the Battle of Crecy. Part of the tension in the plot (as we go from one camp to another) is what did the French learn from that encounter that would change their tactics in this battle? The English, under the Prince of Wales, find themselves cut off from retreat by a superior force of French knights and archers. In fact, at one point the English accept terms of surrender, which the French then repudiate in hopes of gaining a glorious victory for France. Cornwell skillfully narrates the various elements of the battle that prove to be as tactically interesting as the Battle of Gettysburg. Some elements may be repetitious, but only because there are a limited number of things that can be done with a bow or hand weapon. The cover of 1356 quotes George R.R. Martin as follows: "Bernard Cornwell does the best battle scenes of any writer I've ever read, past or present." I have to agree. Don't take the 3 star rating to denigrate this. I am just comparing it to some of his other heroes including Uhtred and Sharpe.}

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dana Ilie

    For those who like historical fiction, Bernard Cornwell reigns as a one-man treasure trove, spanning the Dark Ages to the Civil War and beyond. He's one of the rare popular novelists who not only churns out novels at a rapid clip, he also makes sure they're of high quality. That enviable streak continues with his latest book, 1356, a renewal for the main character in his Grail Quest series. Don't let that last note worry you: The book is a stand-alone but takes on additional texture if you read a For those who like historical fiction, Bernard Cornwell reigns as a one-man treasure trove, spanning the Dark Ages to the Civil War and beyond. He's one of the rare popular novelists who not only churns out novels at a rapid clip, he also makes sure they're of high quality. That enviable streak continues with his latest book, 1356, a renewal for the main character in his Grail Quest series. Don't let that last note worry you: The book is a stand-alone but takes on additional texture if you read any of the Grail Quest novels, sequentially or not. The star of the series is Thomas of Hookton, an excommunicated archer-for-hire who, in three previous adventures, fought his way across England and beyond, seeking vengeance on raiders from Normandy and encountering plenty more obstacles. The Earl of Northampton is Thomas' liege lord, but he allows ample room for his expert archer and a band of mercenaries known as the Hellequin to take on profitable free-lance work between assignments for the earl.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This was a decent read, but a bit disappointing to one who has read a lot of Cornwell. It really seemed too light hearted, almost slapstick at times. It was more like a caper than a historical fiction novel, but had a drawn out battle thrown in at the end. I did like the book, but never felt engaged like I have in other Cornwells. It just didn't match up with the previous books in the Thomas of Hookton series. This was a decent read, but a bit disappointing to one who has read a lot of Cornwell. It really seemed too light hearted, almost slapstick at times. It was more like a caper than a historical fiction novel, but had a drawn out battle thrown in at the end. I did like the book, but never felt engaged like I have in other Cornwells. It just didn't match up with the previous books in the Thomas of Hookton series.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Finishing this series just made me want to read Chivalry by Christian Cameron again. Not my favourite Cornwell series by a long shot.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bibliomysterious BAM

    Ok I have to admit this book had become background noise. I think I am out of the loop having not read the previous grail series.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura Tenfingers

    Absolutely stellar 14th century military historical fiction! I love Thomas Hookton but had seen mixed reviews of this 4th and final book of the series so I wasn't sure if I'd ever get around to it. I'm so glad I did! It was fantastic. We get our usual collection of power-hungry churchmen who of course come with Cornwell's pointed digs at the Church, always a hit. But what surprised me, and was my favourite part, was Cornwell making fun of knights enamoured with (themselves) tales of chivalry and Absolutely stellar 14th century military historical fiction! I love Thomas Hookton but had seen mixed reviews of this 4th and final book of the series so I wasn't sure if I'd ever get around to it. I'm so glad I did! It was fantastic. We get our usual collection of power-hungry churchmen who of course come with Cornwell's pointed digs at the Church, always a hit. But what surprised me, and was my favourite part, was Cornwell making fun of knights enamoured with (themselves) tales of chivalry and honour, to a very humorous extreme. And then of course, the usual violence, archers kicking serious ass and competent military leaders vs incompetent ones. I loved all of it and am seriously considering rereading the whole series soon.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jason Golomb

    "They were mercenaries and they called themselves the Hellequin, the devil's beloved, and they boasted that they could not be defeated because their souls had already been sent to hell." "1356" is a good, solid, testosterone-laden action adventure set in late middle ages France, amidst the ongoing feuds, battles and wars between the French and English. Bernard Cornwell is known for his meticulously detailed historical fiction, and his incredibly vivid and life like battle-realism. This book has a "They were mercenaries and they called themselves the Hellequin, the devil's beloved, and they boasted that they could not be defeated because their souls had already been sent to hell." "1356" is a good, solid, testosterone-laden action adventure set in late middle ages France, amidst the ongoing feuds, battles and wars between the French and English. Bernard Cornwell is known for his meticulously detailed historical fiction, and his incredibly vivid and life like battle-realism. This book has all of that and more, but it's missing something that drives the success of his other stories: a robustly solid plot. "1356" picks up the story of Thomas of Hookton, star of Cornwell's "Grail Quest" series. The book is positioned as a stand-alone novel set within the world and characters of "Archer's Tale", "Vagabond" and "Heretic", most recently published in 2003. Cornwell provides plenty of explanation and backstory to provide the historical context for the characters and their relationships, but what the story doesn't have, and what made "The Last Kingdom" so amazing, for example, is its epic scale and breadth. I'm not referring strictly to time-scale, but rather a story that’s as bold and unique as its many battle scenes. “Last Kingdom” is major motion picture-worthy. The story behind "1356" would make a fine TV movie. The plot revolves around a quest for a sword of historic and religious significance; supposedly, the holder of 'La Malice' will be the supreme ruler. Once that stage is set, the story is propelled by the different organizations chasing after this weapon of great power: Hookton, known as La Batard, is seeking the object for the English. A rather nefarious Cardinal who carries some serious Hookton baggage from the previous novels, is out for its power to propel him to the Papal throne. Surrounding this core story are the subplots of kidnapped heroines, conniving Lords, and a reasonably well-developed cast of secondary characters that provide a platform for Cornwell's terrific skills in writing dialogue. Unfortunately, where the entirety of "1356" feels itself like a subplot of the larger "Grail" suite, the actual subplots of this novel feel even less significant. As a fun battle-adventure in middle ages Europe, I strongly recommend this book. While it doesn't go much beyond that, I got a strong enough sniff of Cornwells' Hookton mythology that I plan on digging into "Archer's Tale", the first in the series, very soon. I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    A question. Who writes historical fiction better than Bernard Cornwell? If you have an answer please let me know. The years is 1356, what a surprise, and William Prince of Wales is causing havoc in France and Thomas of Hookton, now Sir Thomas, is in the thick of things. This is the 4th book in the Grail Quest series. In the books #1,#2,#3 Thomas has been a busy boy. So far he has found the Lance of St.George's and the Holy Grail, no less. To find out what Thomas did with these Holy Relics you wil A question. Who writes historical fiction better than Bernard Cornwell? If you have an answer please let me know. The years is 1356, what a surprise, and William Prince of Wales is causing havoc in France and Thomas of Hookton, now Sir Thomas, is in the thick of things. This is the 4th book in the Grail Quest series. In the books #1,#2,#3 Thomas has been a busy boy. So far he has found the Lance of St.George's and the Holy Grail, no less. To find out what Thomas did with these Holy Relics you will need to read the the other books. Sorry no spoilers here. This time round the holy artefact that everybody is in search of is the Sword of St. Peter (La Malice) Thomas's old protagonist Cardinal Bessieres believes that with the sword he would be unstoppable in the realising his life's ambition of becoming Pope. Thomas stops at nothing to prevent Bessieres from getting the sword. On top of all this The Lord of Douglas, a Scottish nobleman, who is in France and aligned to the French throne wants to do nothing but kill the English. The descriptions of the battles make you feel that you are right in the midst of it all. You feel the horror, you see the blood and gore. Above all you feel such sorrow for the plight of the horses who are unwitting participants in this war of man. These books highlight just how bloody awful war is. The common man is, in reality, nothing but cannon fodder. Who cares that hundred die? I think they cared. These books are great yarns but the actual history is meticulously researched. I just wish that when I was going to school Bernard Cornwell was writing my text books.

  14. 5 out of 5

    happy

    I thought this was vintage Cornwell. A well researched telling of the Battle of Poitiers - the second great English Victory of the 100 Yrs War and the campaign that led up to it. Mr Cornwell has now writen novels on all three of the great English victories: Crecy, Agincourt and now Poitiers. As usual Mr. Cornwell writes vivid battle scenes. In addition to the combat, this has a little bit of everything - the battle scenes, wayward wife, chivalric knights, evil churchmen, early use of gunpowder, a I thought this was vintage Cornwell. A well researched telling of the Battle of Poitiers - the second great English Victory of the 100 Yrs War and the campaign that led up to it. Mr Cornwell has now writen novels on all three of the great English victories: Crecy, Agincourt and now Poitiers. As usual Mr. Cornwell writes vivid battle scenes. In addition to the combat, this has a little bit of everything - the battle scenes, wayward wife, chivalric knights, evil churchmen, early use of gunpowder, and the search for a magical relic. (view spoiler)[ Cornwell starts the novel the sack of Carcassonne by the English and ends it with the Battle of Poitiers. In between there an adulterous wife to be returned to her husband, a knight so caught up in Chivalary he vow to stay a virgin and falls in love with said wife, a wicked Cardinal who is searching for the Sword of St. Peter, of which it is said that whomever posesses it will triumph, so he can become the next Pope. Thomas of Hookton's liege Lord has also heard of the sword and sends him to find it. While he is searching, he recieves word to join the Prince of Wale's army. It is at Poitiers that everything come together. On the down side, Mr. Cornwell introduces two new characters that originally seem to have importance and forgets about them. I liked both the Micheal, the unethusiastic propesctive dr and monk as well as Keane, the Irish Divinity student. They both abandon their studies to go with Thomas. (hide spoiler)] All in all and enthusiastic recommendaton

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.P. Ashman

    Listened to this on Audible. An easy 5 * from story to narration. I read the original Thomas of Hookton trilogy years ago, but it didn't take long to get into this (which could be read as a one off) and feel like I'd not been away from Thomas and The Hundred Years War. Great characters on both sides, excellent battle scenes and plenty of smiles and grimaces both! Listened to this on Audible. An easy 5 * from story to narration. I read the original Thomas of Hookton trilogy years ago, but it didn't take long to get into this (which could be read as a one off) and feel like I'd not been away from Thomas and The Hundred Years War. Great characters on both sides, excellent battle scenes and plenty of smiles and grimaces both!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Milo

    “A bloody, brilliant book that can be enjoyed by anyone. My favourite historical fiction author writes another strong entry in a great setting and delivers a great read that was one of my favourite novels of 2012.” ~The Founding Fields I need to read more Bernard Cornwell. I know my brother’s a huge fan, owning most of his Sharpe books, and I read and enjoyed the first of that series and have seen the TV show with Sean Bean (which was awesome – and ladies and gentlemen, we have also found som “A bloody, brilliant book that can be enjoyed by anyone. My favourite historical fiction author writes another strong entry in a great setting and delivers a great read that was one of my favourite novels of 2012.” ~The Founding Fields I need to read more Bernard Cornwell. I know my brother’s a huge fan, owning most of his Sharpe books, and I read and enjoyed the first of that series and have seen the TV show with Sean Bean (which was awesome – and ladies and gentlemen, we have also found something in it where Sean Bean doesn’t die), as well as his novel Azincourt. If 1356 is anything to go by then Bernard Cornwell has still got what it takes, and even though this book wasn’t perfect, the author himself is still the king of historical fiction followed closely in my book by Simon Scarrow, author of the Eagle series. And the best part is about this book is that it can be read without reading the previous novels in the series as well – like I found out whilst I was reading it. Go with God and Fight Like the Devil. A fascinating hero and the pursuit of a sword with mythical power – this is the remarkable new novel by Britain’s master storyteller, which culminates at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. Thomas of Hookton, a veteran of Crecy and many other battles, is the leader of a mercenary company of bowmen and men-at-arms who ravage the countryside east of Gascony. Edward, Prince of Wales, later to be known as the Black Prince, is assembling an army to fight the French once more but before Thomas can join, he must fulfil an urgent task. La Malice, a sword of mythical power guaranteeing victory to its owner, is thought to be concealed somewhere near Poitiers. With signs that a battle between the English and the French is looming others are seeking the treasure too, and some – French, Scots and even English – are pursuing their private agendas against Thomas. But all – Thomas of Hookton, his enemies and friends and the fate of La Malice – become swept up in the extraordinary confrontation that follows, as the large French army faces the heavily outnumbered English in battle., Obviously, the novel is set in the year 1356 and deals with the leading up to the Battle of Poitiers, famous for being a battle that I knew absolutely nothing about before coming into this book, and I was glad to see that Cornwell managed to hook me in and keep me there, as well as providing an educational look into the battle with his vivid descriptions, strong characters and a masterful understanding of medieval action. Read the Full Review: http://thefoundingfields.com/2013/01/....

  17. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Bernard Cornwell's strength is making a historical period come alive. He not only talks about the battle but the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the way they talk and other details that make the period real and like you are actually there. It's a very rare gift. Lord Labrouillade has a beautiful wife who hates being married to him and runs off with another man. Who wouldn't hate being married to him? He's a fat, gross, cruel, unpleasant, coward of a man. The count enjoys a good meal. For hi Bernard Cornwell's strength is making a historical period come alive. He not only talks about the battle but the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the way they talk and other details that make the period real and like you are actually there. It's a very rare gift. Lord Labrouillade has a beautiful wife who hates being married to him and runs off with another man. Who wouldn't hate being married to him? He's a fat, gross, cruel, unpleasant, coward of a man. The count enjoys a good meal. For his dinner he had a venison pastry, a roasted goose, a ham drenched in lavender honey and small birds cooked in red wine. As he ate "the yellow fat dribbled down his chins." He hires Sir Thomas Hookton to bring his wife back. As Hookton tries to rectify the situation war is breaking out in France as the English Black Prince ravages the countryside. Hookton is on his own quest to find the fabled la Malice, St. Peter's sword. He has disposed of the Holy Grail in a manner he feels keeps it safe from humans and he wants the same for the sword. There is a whole cast of characters that are interesting and quite believable. My favorite was the dowager Countess Malbuisson, an 82 year old, looking for a little excitement at the end of her life. There was Roland Verrec, a knight who believes strongly in chivalry. Who can forget Sculley, a fierce Scottish warrior? This shows the strength of Cornwell whose bit players could all have a novel of their own. Of course, where Cornwell excels are the battle scenes. You can actually feel yourselves in the heat of the fight. This is my favorite line, "Enemy could smell enemy, smell the shit as bowels emptied in terror, smell the wine and ale on their breath, smell the blood that slicked the grass." That tells us everything about the battle. I sat up until 3:30 am to finish the book. I just couldn't find a place to be able to stop and put the book down. I just had to find out what happened next. I highly recommend this book

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Boy, I wish GR would let us give half-stars. Three seems too low, but this is not quite worthy of four. Like Heretic, this book was more story and less action. The story was great; I just prefer a little more excitement. I happened to read the hardcover edition of this, and emblazoned on the front of the dust jacket is a quote from George R.R. Martin about Bernard Cornwell's battle-scene prowess. Martin's right -- Cornwell's battles are top shelf. Unfortunately, there just weren't many in this, a Boy, I wish GR would let us give half-stars. Three seems too low, but this is not quite worthy of four. Like Heretic, this book was more story and less action. The story was great; I just prefer a little more excitement. I happened to read the hardcover edition of this, and emblazoned on the front of the dust jacket is a quote from George R.R. Martin about Bernard Cornwell's battle-scene prowess. Martin's right -- Cornwell's battles are top shelf. Unfortunately, there just weren't many in this, aside from the outstanding climax at the end. That Martin quote might have been better placed on another title. I do like Thomas of Hookton very much. Cornwell truly lets us get to know the character in this series. Perhaps a little less in this volume than in the previous three; but we got to know other characters better. And the story of this book was engrossing and engaging. Cornwell's got skills! One side note -- Not sure putting this in the "Grail" series is the right call. Felt more like a book featuring some of the same characters, but didn't have anything to do with the search for the Grail. All-in-all, another good Cornwell joint; just not my favorite.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steven Walle

    I enjoyed this book very much. It took place in France, England and Normandy. It was all about a fierce battle and the search for a holy sword that was suppose to save the world from evil. WARNING!!! There is a whole lot of violence in this book. It is not for the faint of heart. Enjoy and Be Blessed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    Meh, dull beginning, i shall dnf

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    (Really, it's 2.5-star rating.) I came to this book without having read any of others in the series, but it did work well as an account of the events leading up to and including a specific, important battle. Cornwell does a nice job of mixing in enough of the backstory that, as a person new to both this series and Cornwell, I didn't feel in the dark as far as the character's motives were concerned. This book has a nice, quick pace to it that kept me turning the pages. I appreciate Cornwell's atte (Really, it's 2.5-star rating.) I came to this book without having read any of others in the series, but it did work well as an account of the events leading up to and including a specific, important battle. Cornwell does a nice job of mixing in enough of the backstory that, as a person new to both this series and Cornwell, I didn't feel in the dark as far as the character's motives were concerned. This book has a nice, quick pace to it that kept me turning the pages. I appreciate Cornwell's attention to historic detail (in addition to doing the research, he visited the actual battlefield and used that experience to inform his battlefield narrative) and his ability to blend his fictional story into the French-English battles from history. His understanding of the weapons and armor really helped add a sense of reality to his battlefield descriptions. That said, I held back a bit on my star rating because Cornwell tries too hard and comes up too short in his attempt to inject some artful storytelling flourishes. Especially in the final 25-percent of so of the book, he has an incredibly annoying habit of trying to heighten the drama (or maybe impart some gravitas) by ending each scene with a short, single-sentence paragraph. There are several writers who can pull of this technique, but Cornwell, no matter how many times he tries (and judging by the number of books he's written, I suspect he's been trying for years), isn't among them. Every time he used this technique to end a passage, I was jarred out of the story (which I otherwise did enjoy), and my attention was drawn to his clumsy attempts at a writerly flourish. Although his writing was mostly unobtrusive, when he switched scenes, it clanged like a football bouncing off of a goalpost. Here is a sampling of single-sentence paragraphs that Cornwell let linger before switching to another scene. I doubt anyone can deduce any serious spoiler details from these, so this shouldn't ruin the book for people who plan to read it. "And the steel of the arrowheads was weak." "And dreaming of Paris echoing with cheers." "And the prince let out a long sigh of relief." "To help an army escape." "Because the English were beaten." "Because France was going to fight." "Because the army would escape." "Coming to the river." "And heard the war drums." "It was all for Bertille." "And so the carnage began." "Then charged again." "And Saint Denis me Saint George." "And somewhere a trumpet called." "So the French sent for help." "The enemy was coming again." "He smelled victory." Tedious, isn't it? Granted, seeing those out of context heightens their awkwardness, but I don't think I'm being unfair in calling Cornwell out on this. Though it's a good story and most of the writing works, when he tries to enhance the story, he ends up hurting it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Frank Dodson

    Cornwell breathes life in English history with yet another wonderful page turner filled with his legendary twists and turns. 1356 is book four in The Grail Quest is a historical fiction novel series about a 14th Century search for the Holy Grail. Set around the time of the Hundred Years' War. They follow the adventures of Thomas of Hookton as he leaves Dorset after the murder of his father and joins the English Army under Edward III as an archer In 1356 , Hookton is a veteran of Crecy and Cornwell breathes life in English history with yet another wonderful page turner filled with his legendary twists and turns. 1356 is book four in The Grail Quest is a historical fiction novel series about a 14th Century search for the Holy Grail. Set around the time of the Hundred Years' War. They follow the adventures of Thomas of Hookton as he leaves Dorset after the murder of his father and joins the English Army under Edward III as an archer In 1356 , Hookton is a veteran of Crecy and many other battles, and the leader of a mercenary company of bowmen and men-at-arms who ravage the countryside east of Gascony. Edward, Prince of Wales, later to be known as the Black Prince, is assembling an army to fight the French once more but before Thomas can join, he must fulfill an urgent task.Go with God and Fight Like the Devil… in Poitiers in 1356. There’s a holy sword, a demonic priest and an ambitious cardinal, a fallen woman, and many battles. The middle ages comes alive with Cornwell’s excellent writing skills.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Drew Karpyshyn

    I haven't read any of the other books in the series, so I did feel a bit like I was catching up with some of the characters. The way they were presented here felt a bit flat and clichéd, but maybe they are better developed in earlier books. A lot of the interesting historical details felt very similar to another Cornwell book I'd already read (Azincourt), so I didn't find them as compelling. But my biggest problem with this book is how female characters were treated. Every bad misogynistic trope I haven't read any of the other books in the series, so I did feel a bit like I was catching up with some of the characters. The way they were presented here felt a bit flat and clichéd, but maybe they are better developed in earlier books. A lot of the interesting historical details felt very similar to another Cornwell book I'd already read (Azincourt), so I didn't find them as compelling. But my biggest problem with this book is how female characters were treated. Every bad misogynistic trope - helpless prisoner; imperiled victim, hero's trophy - was played out. I get that women in this era didn't have a lot of legal rights, but this is fiction; I want to read about interesting and remarkable characters. These females are all interchangeable, and none of them is anything but an object to move the plot along and be threatened, protected, captured or rescued by the male characters. I don't usually go looking for this kind of thing to complain about, but it was so blatant in this novel it really detracted from my reading experience.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    "1356" is about the 100 Years' War between England and France, fought entirely in France. The main character is Sir Thomas Hookston, a rarity in that he was a priest's son-turned archer who was knighted for hs fighting prowess. Hookston heads a mercenary band that fights for the English (60 archers and 40 men at arms) and is a complicated person, having studied to be a priest and having been declared excommunicant by the french-controlled papacy. As usual, Cornwell writes well and clearly about "1356" is about the 100 Years' War between England and France, fought entirely in France. The main character is Sir Thomas Hookston, a rarity in that he was a priest's son-turned archer who was knighted for hs fighting prowess. Hookston heads a mercenary band that fights for the English (60 archers and 40 men at arms) and is a complicated person, having studied to be a priest and having been declared excommunicant by the french-controlled papacy. As usual, Cornwell writes well and clearly about war and battle, and creates a story-within-the-story; i.e., the search for the sword that Peter used to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. How that sword becomes a catspaw for various ecclesiastical interests supports the main story. NOTE: Cornwell's only flaw is repetition in that he explains how bows and arrows are made, and about how archers are trained, about ten times. I got it the first time, just as I got that Thomas's arm was strong due to pulling a longbow for a generation.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Maybe not the strongest quest story but Cornwell gives us battles and fighting better than just about anyone. Great historical fiction takes you to the 14th Century and the next big battle of the Hundred Years' War after Crecy, the battle of the Black Prince and the English army against the French at Poitiers. The fourth book in the Thomas of Hookton trilogy was worth a few hours to escape to another time and place. 4 Stars Maybe not the strongest quest story but Cornwell gives us battles and fighting better than just about anyone. Great historical fiction takes you to the 14th Century and the next big battle of the Hundred Years' War after Crecy, the battle of the Black Prince and the English army against the French at Poitiers. The fourth book in the Thomas of Hookton trilogy was worth a few hours to escape to another time and place. 4 Stars

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    While this historical fiction was interesting, I think I would have preferred to read an actual history without the fictional frame. Mediocre writing. Boring characters. The most interesting parts were the political and military history.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Speesh

    Set after the English victory at Crécy, during the Hundred Years’ War and leading up to what by all accounts, this one included, was the apocalyptic battle of Poitiers in the year 1356 of the title. We’re in deepest darkest France and there’s something about a mythical lost sword - ‘la Malice’ - being found and transported somewhere by someone. It’s the sword supposedly used by St Peter - and maybe even touched by You Know Who - in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the Romans came to make an arrest Set after the English victory at Crécy, during the Hundred Years’ War and leading up to what by all accounts, this one included, was the apocalyptic battle of Poitiers in the year 1356 of the title. We’re in deepest darkest France and there’s something about a mythical lost sword - ‘la Malice’ - being found and transported somewhere by someone. It’s the sword supposedly used by St Peter - and maybe even touched by You Know Who - in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the Romans came to make an arrest. Of course, the side who has control of the sword, will have God on their side, even more than the other side say they have. God, while being on both sides’ side, is urging them to do to the other side, what His son - He Himself, if you subscribe to the three-in-one principle - spent His whole life and Ministry preaching against. Most of the story follows one Thomas of Hookton, an English archer and leader of a band of warriors, who seems to have a reputation amongst the French, as he is known as Le Batard. Clearly, the ’s’ hadn’t been invented at that point. He is after the sword as well. Though his purpose for finding it is subtly different from the others’. We finally meet ’The Black Prince’ (though, as Cornwell points out, he wasn’t known as ‘The Black Prince’ at the time, nor for a long time afterwards), who is engaged in rampaging through large parts of ‘France,’ trying to get the King of France to come to battle. If the King doesn’t, then the English continue their trail of devastation and destruction and stack up the treasures they find on the way. Win win. However, by the climax, the English do seem to have bitten off more than they can chew and become holed up near Poitiers and the French decide now would be the time to catch an English army, tired and weakened by hunger, at a disadvantage. Especially, as the French now possess the mythical sword and the accompanying support of the chap 'upstairs.’ But, as anyone knows, so it’s not giving the game away any, the English…Well, despite having read a little of the history of the time at school, I can safely say that Cornwell’s writing here is such that the result is on several knife-edges (sword edges?) throughout. He really is a master of the tense battle scene, the pivotal moment. It can be tricky keeping track of who is who and who is/isn’t on who’s side. What with some French being on the French side, a fair few ‘English’ being as French as the French - and the Scottish…being the enemies of just about everyone, here mostly the English. Though, that’s not unusual. We do need to be reminded of course, that at this time, the majority - if not all - of the English royalty and aristocracy, spoke (what is now) French. They came from (what is now) France and more often than not, preferred to live there. Large parts of (what is now) France were, it seems, under English control, thanks, most likely, to the legacy of the Norman Conquest. The English characters all seem very down-to-earth, practical and likeable. The Black Prince, is actually quite likeable and Cornwell seems at a loss to know why history remembers him as TBP. The French, are what we English imagine the French to have been/are like - airy, gloomy, on a mission from God and generally running scared. The Scots, of course, are beard-tearingly madder than bulldogs licking piss off a nettle. No change there. I can’t believe Cornwell would go to such stereotypical lengths, so it may just be me. Though, in the Afterward, I think I can see what he’s trying to do with the two sides, in reflecting in their characters, giving the ground reasons for why the outcome was what it was. Very good. BC does also want us to learn something about life and warfare in the C14th. The book and the general non-battle conversation, is peppered with facts and explanations about the period. You can usually see - and this applies to all books, when ‘a fact’ is coming up, when you read a character saying something and the person being spoken to says (something like) "Wait! What do you mean? Tell me more…” and hereafter follows the lesson. Cornwell actually, manages to disguise it better than most. So it becomes an enjoyment rather than a chore, as Harry Sidebottom makes it. You do wish though, that just once, a historical fiction book set (say) between 800 and 1700 wouldn’t have people rambling on about The Church on every bleeding page. It really is the way to make a dull book. The all-encompassing fatalism, that has become more than a little tiresome in some of the later ‘Warrior Chronicles,’ that no one actually controls their own destiny, can’t take a shit without judging if it is God’s Will before or after, or has any meaningful say over their own lives, is again here in abundance. Difference is, in ‘The Warrior Chronicles’ (at least for BC’s ancestor) it was that no one could know, influence change or even know, what the Norns had spun (him being a Viking and all). Without letting you know until afterwards, of course. Here it is just God. He’s still not letting you know in advance of course, but at least now He has People, many people, to speak for Him. It is clear that this is one of the themes Cornwell wants to get over, the religious mess. The Church being the self-appointed interpreters of His Will on Earth, have clearly gone such a long way from the original Message, that they can’t get back. What they have decided is the Will Of God, is the opposite of that they were supposed to be teaching. Pertinent. Set in France, and all… It’s a good tale that rattles along at a fair old pace and mostly seems to fulfil what he set out to do with it. It has a sense of purpose that the last of his I read ‘The Fort’ lacked. He still likes his, what I call, ‘arms-length’ descriptions, matter of fact, blunt style of description especially in the battles, but here it works well and much better than the last Warrior Chronicles one i read. 1356 knows where it’s going, what it has to do to get there and goes to it with alacrity. There’s plenty going on, plenty of action and battle action, with last minute rescues, tense stand-offs and “Ha! Take THAT!” a-plenty. It’s a very visual and visceral book (in the battle scenes), but with nuances, information and messages as well. Plenty to get your teeth and brain into.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hannah | thebookwormsfeast

    Ok, so I have to preface this with I didn't realise it was part of a series (the fourth in fact), and I just dived right on in. But when I found out, I looked around the reviews and questions - and others said although old events are referenced, and you miss a lot of character building, this book does still work alone. So I ploughed on. And I loved it! It's been such a long time since I've read a book like this - as I've mainly been steeped in full-on fantasy. I adored having actual events and his Ok, so I have to preface this with I didn't realise it was part of a series (the fourth in fact), and I just dived right on in. But when I found out, I looked around the reviews and questions - and others said although old events are referenced, and you miss a lot of character building, this book does still work alone. So I ploughed on. And I loved it! It's been such a long time since I've read a book like this - as I've mainly been steeped in full-on fantasy. I adored having actual events and history interwoven with the fictional elements of Sir Thomas Hookton and the quest to find La Malice. Although missing some of the backstory (or near all the backstory), I still fell in love with the characters over this book. The power and might of the English and Welsh longbowmen of the medieval era have always fascinated me - so "observing" the events leading up to and including the Battle of Poitiers from a band of them was amazing for me. There was a quote on the back of the book from George R. R. Martin that Cornwell writes some of the best battle scenes he's ever read, and I totally agree. It felt like we effortlessly and wholly moved around the battle - picking up on the main details (from what we know about what actually happened) without any feeling of choppiness. This is my first Bernard Cornwall novel, and I certainly will be picking up more!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Antonio Pontes

    An OK book. I guess if you take it out of the grail series by Bernard Cornwell, it is a good book, but if you take it in comparison with the other three books, it is pretty weak. But nonetheless is a Bernard Cornwell book, and these are always good read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Isis

    Despite being the conclusion of a series, this stands alone pretty well. This is a historic novel that leads up to a climax at the Battle of Poitiers, an important battle in the Hundred Years' War between England and France, and man, is there a lot of fighting. Unfortunately in audiobook I couldn't skim over the many gory battles. Cornwell also regards archers and archery like Tom Clancy regards submarines, and there are many lovingly detailed and repetitive descriptions of the archer's quidditc Despite being the conclusion of a series, this stands alone pretty well. This is a historic novel that leads up to a climax at the Battle of Poitiers, an important battle in the Hundred Years' War between England and France, and man, is there a lot of fighting. Unfortunately in audiobook I couldn't skim over the many gory battles. Cornwell also regards archers and archery like Tom Clancy regards submarines, and there are many lovingly detailed and repetitive descriptions of the archer's quidditch-toned - oops, I mean, archery-honed muscles. But the actual human stories are pretty enjoyable, and there's a lot of humor in it.

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