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"Now order the ranks, and fling wide the banners, for our souls are God's and our bodies the king's, and our swords for Saint George and for England!" With that rousing proclamation, twelve hundred knights ride into battle, accompanied by the stalwart archers known as the White Company. Fueled by their appetite for glory, this motley crew of freebooters stands united in the "Now order the ranks, and fling wide the banners, for our souls are God's and our bodies the king's, and our swords for Saint George and for England!" With that rousing proclamation, twelve hundred knights ride into battle, accompanied by the stalwart archers known as the White Company. Fueled by their appetite for glory, this motley crew of freebooters stands united in their unswerving devotion to the company commander, Sir Nigel Loring. Short, bald, and extremely nearsighted, Sir Nigel's unprepossessing appearance belies his warrior's heart and his chivalrous nature. The rollicking adventures of his company during the Hundred Years War center around Sir Nigel's loyal squire, Alleyne Edricson. Raised in the sheltered confines of a monastery, young Alleyne comes of age amid the rough-and-tumble of armed conflict and the bewildering ways of courtly love. Best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a passionate historian. The White Company was his favorite among his own works; here, he offers flavorful, realistic depictions of life during the 14th century — from its weapons and apparel to its religious practice, and the close connection between the cycles of human existence, and the rhythm of the seasons. Readers of all ages will thrill to this spirited tale and its evocative portrait of the Middle Ages.


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"Now order the ranks, and fling wide the banners, for our souls are God's and our bodies the king's, and our swords for Saint George and for England!" With that rousing proclamation, twelve hundred knights ride into battle, accompanied by the stalwart archers known as the White Company. Fueled by their appetite for glory, this motley crew of freebooters stands united in the "Now order the ranks, and fling wide the banners, for our souls are God's and our bodies the king's, and our swords for Saint George and for England!" With that rousing proclamation, twelve hundred knights ride into battle, accompanied by the stalwart archers known as the White Company. Fueled by their appetite for glory, this motley crew of freebooters stands united in their unswerving devotion to the company commander, Sir Nigel Loring. Short, bald, and extremely nearsighted, Sir Nigel's unprepossessing appearance belies his warrior's heart and his chivalrous nature. The rollicking adventures of his company during the Hundred Years War center around Sir Nigel's loyal squire, Alleyne Edricson. Raised in the sheltered confines of a monastery, young Alleyne comes of age amid the rough-and-tumble of armed conflict and the bewildering ways of courtly love. Best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a passionate historian. The White Company was his favorite among his own works; here, he offers flavorful, realistic depictions of life during the 14th century — from its weapons and apparel to its religious practice, and the close connection between the cycles of human existence, and the rhythm of the seasons. Readers of all ages will thrill to this spirited tale and its evocative portrait of the Middle Ages.

30 review for The White Company : Historical fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's household-word fame today, of course, is as the creator of iconic fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. His science fiction novels and stories were also popular in his day, and remain influential in that genre. But he was personally proudest of his achievements as a historical novelist, and this is his best known work of that type. I actually first ran across it in my school library in junior high school, and read into Chapter 12 at that time. But then I graduated; and wh Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's household-word fame today, of course, is as the creator of iconic fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. His science fiction novels and stories were also popular in his day, and remain influential in that genre. But he was personally proudest of his achievements as a historical novelist, and this is his best known work of that type. I actually first ran across it in my school library in junior high school, and read into Chapter 12 at that time. But then I graduated; and while my intention at the time was to obtain another copy elsewhere and continue the read, that plan got sidetracked and eventually relegated to the back burner, though never abandoned. Recently, I came back to the book after a lapse of over 50 years, and read it cover-to-cover. Having now done so, I can say that I have to agree with Doyle's own assessment, at least to the degree that this is my favorite among his novels that I've read so far (and those include all four of the Holmes novels!). The setting here is the Middle Ages (one of my favorite periods for historical fiction!), specifically 1366-67, during the Hundred Year's War. At that particular moment, however, the English vs. French conflict was in a truce state, although feudal wars between barons and the depredations of outlaws and unemployed mercenary bands kept France in a parlous condition. For the characters here, the immediate call to arms and occasion for military adventure is the campaign of the Black Prince to restore the ousted Pedro the Cruel to the throne of Castile, in the western part of what is today Spain, which in the 1300s was not yet a unified country. (Pedro had been deposed in favor of his out-of-wedlock half-brother, Henry; the Black Prince viewed this as an intolerable breach of the rights of the lawful heir.) Our protagonist is Alleyne Edricson, second son of a Socman, or substantial free landowner, of an old Saxon line in Hampshire (an English county on the southern coast, opposite the Isle of Wight). His father died when he was very young, and he's been raised in a Cistercian abbey as a novice; but he's now turned 20, and Edric's will calls for him to spend a year outside the monastery, to determine whether or not he's called to holy orders. On the road, he soon connects with his monastery acquaintance Hordle John, a powerfully-built young peasant who ill-advisedly joined the order after being jilted by his girlfriend, but was expelled (to put it mildly, he didn't, in Catholic parlance, "have a vocation" :-) ) the same day that Alleyne left; and the two in turn quickly meet up with another fellow traveler, soldier Samkin Aylward, who's in route to the castle home of renowned warrior Sir Nigel Loring, bearing a letter inviting the latter to come to France and assume leadership of the White Company, a war-band of English archers. The reader won't be surprised to learn that Sir Nigel and our trio of friends will soon be headed for France. Like almost all historical fiction writers of his time, Doyle's stylistic affinities were Romantic. But he also was very scrupulous about historical accuracy, to a degree that no Realist critic could fairly fault; he put in four years of serious research for this novel, and it shows in an extremely detailed and realistic picture of 14th-century society, thought and daily life. Where the fiction intertwines with real-life history, there's no departure from known fact; real-life historical figures portrayed here (and there are many, including the Black Prince, Pedro, Bertrand du Guesclin, Sir John Chandos, and others) are depicted the way their contemporaries saw them, so far as records exist. He does not, however, deliver any of this material in info-dumps, but works it seamlessly into the texture of the tale (though it's true that some episodes do seem to be included solely to illustrate some peculiarity of the time). That's no mean feat in itself. His characterizations are also vivid, round and lifelike (I don't often identify with romantic action-hero types, but I did with Alleyne!); he provides an exciting, suspenseful plot (with plenty of action, though it's mostly in the latter half of the book) and a strand of clean romance between a couple worth rooting for and wishing well. Great fiction, though, goes deeper than the above characteristics of good fiction; it makes you think about deeper issues than "will our heroes survive?" or "will the loving pair wind up together?" That quality, too, I found here; Doyle doesn't sermonize, but messages and thoughts arise naturally out of the story. As with much action-oriented fiction of this school, there's a strong encouragement of virtues like courage, loyalty, fair and honest dealing, personal integrity, kindness and willingness to defend the weak. But while we sometimes think of medieval "chivalry" solely in those terms, to a much greater extent than either Scott (at least in Ivanhoe) or Stevenson, Doyle brings out the fact that this code, as embodied in Sir Nigel, had its dubious aspects as well: a confusion of personal "honor" with vainglory over successful lethal fighting for its own sake; the idea that physically fighting over competing claims for your special lady's superiority to all other women actually redounds to any credit to her (or you); and an over-concern with "noble" status measured by birth or an official knightly accolade. And we might add, too, an assumption that supporting your king in any quarrel he undertakes automatically qualifies as your legitimate duty. (That does not accord with classical Christian "just war" theory, even if the medieval Church did tacitly endorse the idea!) We can respect Sir Nigel, and even like him; but that's not the same thing as endorsing all of his attitudes, and we can see that the chivalric code was in serious need of some revision. The 14th century was also a time, as Doyle points out explicitly, when the feudal, ultra class-conscious and often exploitative social order of the High Middle Ages was beginning to be questioned from below. The legitimate grievances of the lower classes are portrayed forcefully here, along with the often savagely violent social unrest in both France and England; we can see both the need for a more just society and the reality that violence against the innocent won't further that goal. (By 1891, when Doyle wrote, much social change had taken place; but the antagonism between the wealthy and powerful who think they're entitled to anything they want, vs. an underclass that's willing to throw over every ethical restraint in order to annihilate anyone they see as the enemy Other, was still alive and well --and still is in 2020.) It was also a time of increasing religious ferment, which is also deliberately brought out here. Though not a Christian himself, Doyle was respectful towards Christianity; and through Alleyne's eyes he makes a case for the legitimacy of a Christian life lived by serving others and forming a healthy family in the normal world, rather than fleeing from the world and trying to live in navel-gazing personal purity. He also implicitly critiques aspects of medieval religiosity that need critiquing --the hawking of bogus relics, the quest of the irreligious for a salvation that can be had for money without spiritual conversion, and the willingness of religious charlatans to profit off of them; and the perverted piety of the Flagellants, beating each other to ribbons in the warped belief that God took pleasure in their pain. (Nonetheless, this isn't an anti-Catholic novel, but an appeal for practical and rational piety that both Catholics and Protestants can get behind. When Alleyne says, at one point, that an offer to, in effect, sell a ticket to heaven is not part of the teachings of Mother Church, he's speaking for many Roman Catholics, then and now.) Some readers won't get into this novel; not all will appreciate the detailed introduction to the world of the 14th century, and to the principle characters, that occupies much of the first half of the novel. Many will perceive this as too slow moving, though for my part I understood it as necessary to the author's purpose and to our bonding with the characters, and wasn't bored by any of it. Doyle's diction here is Victorian, more formal than in his less "serious" mystery and science fiction writing, often with involved sentence structure; he's quite willing to use big words if they serve best to convey his meaning, and he deliberately employs a lot of older, medieval terminology that fits into this setting. While he doesn't write dialogue in Chaucer-style Middle English (and he usually translates the speech of the Norman-descended royalty and aristocracy, many of whom still spoke French at this time), he does consciously write it with an archaic flavor, preserving a lot of medieval idiom and vocabulary. This also won't be to every taste; but I personally was able to understand it (sometimes from context), and I think most serious readers could as well. (So, if ye will hearken to my rede, and ye be a historical fiction fan, give this book a try, forsooth! :-) )

  2. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    A delightful and strange adventure story in the vein of The Three Musketeers or The Scarlet Pimpernel, but also an early foreshadow of the Mannerpunk genre which grew out of Peake's Gormenghast books. The well-researched text creates a believable world which is undoubtedly (and delightfully) removed from the modern. Not only does Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes fame) create a fairly accurate portrait of ever-warring Feudal Europe, but at least proposes a psychological type for the soldiers of the time. A delightful and strange adventure story in the vein of The Three Musketeers or The Scarlet Pimpernel, but also an early foreshadow of the Mannerpunk genre which grew out of Peake's Gormenghast books. The well-researched text creates a believable world which is undoubtedly (and delightfully) removed from the modern. Not only does Doyle (of Sherlock Holmes fame) create a fairly accurate portrait of ever-warring Feudal Europe, but at least proposes a psychological type for the soldiers of the time. Of course, to take such a type from (even contemporary) works is a bit of a silly falsehood, and with characteristic British whimsy, Doyle births a cast which seems realistic not despite but because of its deep-seated eccentricity. Of course, it is precisely this method which will grip Peake (in the wake of Chekhov) in his surrealistic works. Though once quite popular, this tale has become somewhat less well-known, perhaps because it is easy to take from it a stance of bravado, militarism, and anglocentrism. Perhaps there will come to us a dissolving of such strong self-identifications with such things that people will no longer feel a need to oppose fictional portrayals, and Doyle and Kipling may return with a grain of salt.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Pramod Nair

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is without doubt one of the masters of the crime fiction & detective novels genre. Doyle’s great detective ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and his stories redefined the entire genre of crime writing. But Doyle was also a prolific writer in other areas like science fiction, romantic adventures, historical fictions and poetry. ‘The White Company’ is one of the best historical novels from Doyle set in the backdrop of medieval England, France and Spain during the fourteenth century with ple Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is without doubt one of the masters of the crime fiction & detective novels genre. Doyle’s great detective ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and his stories redefined the entire genre of crime writing. But Doyle was also a prolific writer in other areas like science fiction, romantic adventures, historical fictions and poetry. ‘The White Company’ is one of the best historical novels from Doyle set in the backdrop of medieval England, France and Spain during the fourteenth century with plenty of archers, sword fights, inspiring action scenes and exhilarating adventure. This exciting knight-in-armor story was the result of a meticulous and arduous research by Doyle on the time period of Edward III; about Hundred Years' War; the campaigns of Edward, the Black Prince and the Middle Ages in general. When published in 1891, ‘The White Company’, was an instant success and was regarded by Doyle in his own words as "the most complete, satisfying and ambitious thing I have ever done". In this romantic adventure tale Doyle gives a charming historical and geographic description of the Europe during the Hundred Years’ War by exposing the reader to characters full of nobility, chivalry and warrior attitude. The protagonist of the story is the young and innocent Alleyne Edricson who is freshly out exploring the world after a being raised in a monastery. Alleyne’s straightforward nature brings him two friends in the form of the vigorous archer Samkin Aylward and the hilarious and extremely strong John of Hordle. Together they join ‘The White Company’ - a free company of archers led by the brave and admired Knight Sir Nigel Loring – and Alleyne becomes the armour-bearer to Sir Nigel Loring. Soon ‘The White Company’ heads out to France and Spain in a quest brimming with hilarious situations, sword fights, danger and carnage. While reading this book the reader may find some of the vocabulary from the era a bit of a challenge but it wont be something that will entirely stop him from enjoying a thoroughly well narrated story. I will strongly recommend ‘The White Company’ for those who love invigorating tales of good-old-style adventure and chivalry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    A long time ago, I read The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. And last year I read a collection of his poetry called Songs Of The Road. But The White Company, published in 1891, was the first of his historical novels for me, and now I can't decide whether to continue here sounding somewhat scholarly or to simply let my feelings take over. So first the Somewhat Scholar. This book is based loosely on certain events in the life of a real true knight in shining armor by the name of Sir Neil Loring, c A long time ago, I read The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. And last year I read a collection of his poetry called Songs Of The Road. But The White Company, published in 1891, was the first of his historical novels for me, and now I can't decide whether to continue here sounding somewhat scholarly or to simply let my feelings take over. So first the Somewhat Scholar. This book is based loosely on certain events in the life of a real true knight in shining armor by the name of Sir Neil Loring, called Sir Nigel in the book. He fought with Edward The Black Prince Of Wales during The One Hundred Years War. I had a fascinating time checking to see which of the many knights and nobles mentioned in the story were real people, and nearly all of them were. In this story Sir Nigel was in his 40's, and although he is still very much a hero, the younger hero's role was filled by Allyene Edricson, a 20 year old orphan who had been raised in a monastery but according to his late father's will was to spend a year learning about life before he decided for himself whether to continue his monkish studies or to join the world. Okay, enough scholarly blather. This book was AWESOME! There is jousting, there is court intrigue, there is one of the coolest ever sword fights between squires, there is humor, drama, danger, true love, visions of the future, real friendships, a siege at a castle, a march through the Pyrenees, a mysterious knight in black armor, and....and....never a dull moment!! AND some fun words like these that John Hordle's mother yells at him when she discovers him marching off to war with Sir Nigel's soldiers. The other archers enjoyed this little scene immensely, by the way. Imagine a huge hulk of a young man being whacked about the shoulders by his tiny little mother, who happened to have a stick with her. “You rammucky lurden,” she was howling, with a blow between each catch of her breath, “you shammocking, yaping, over-long good-for-nought. I will teach thee! I will baste thee! Aye, by my faith!” “Whist, mother,” said John, looking back at her from the tail of his eye, “I go to France as an archer to give blows and to take them.” “To France, quotha?” cried the old dame. “Bide here with me, and I shall warrant you more blows than you are like to get in France. If blows be what you seek, you need not go further than Hordle.” John's mother may have thought he was a good-for-nought, but he was one of my favorite characters in the story and proved himself good-for-much. Another favorite character was Samkin Aylward the archer, who first appears in the story on a mission to deliver a letter from France to Sir Nigel. Rough and tough and thoroughly adorable was Samkin; he helped steady the youngsters that were new to the world of warfare. And he hated the new cannons that were coming into use at the time (1366). He said they took away the honor of the fight. I wonder what he would think of the way wars are waged these days. Harrow and alas, he would not be impressed, I'm sure. I laughed, I cheered, I held my breath, I cried. And I've made a list of the other Doyle historical fiction titles available at Gutenberg and will work my way through all of them. (There's only eight ~~ he himself said that Sherlock Holmes used up too much of his time, keeping him from writing more of the historical novels that he supposedly felt were his best work, at least according to Wiki). And first up, as soon as I finish my two June challenge titles, will be the 1906 book Sir Nigel, where we get to hang out with this joyful man when he was a much younger knight. I won't need an armed varlet standing by to keep me reading, that's for sure!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    _The White Company_ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is equal parts boy’s own adventure and historical fiction of the Hundred Years’ War. It reminded me very much of the spirit of Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, though it’s been so long since I read the latter story I wouldn’t want to draw too many specific comparisons. The story is that of a young aristocrat, Alleyne Edricson, who leaves the safe confines of the abbey where he was raised in order to see the world for a year before deciding on the path his _The White Company_ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is equal parts boy’s own adventure and historical fiction of the Hundred Years’ War. It reminded me very much of the spirit of Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, though it’s been so long since I read the latter story I wouldn’t want to draw too many specific comparisons. The story is that of a young aristocrat, Alleyne Edricson, who leaves the safe confines of the abbey where he was raised in order to see the world for a year before deciding on the path his life is to follow. From the first Doyle fills his tale with action that is tempered with descriptive passages detailing the varied aspects of medieval life of England and France in the fourteenth century. One gets a detailed sense of a world in which the habitations of man were widely interspersed amongst the ever present wilderness with areas of cultivation spread between. The story Doyle tells straddles a strange line, for while there are parts that read like an idyllic paen to the simpler and purer days of yore, he does not shy away from presenting hard truths regarding the savagery, poverty, and tyranny that were also pervasive at the time. One is often left wondering whether Doyle wanted to praise or berate the era, to simplify it or acknowledge its complexities, but perhaps he simply felt that, like any other age, there was equal measure of both praise and blame to be given to it. Alleyne’s relative innocence and inexperience with the world outside of abbey walls allows him to be an excellent stand-in for the reader, as he experiences for the first time the realities of the wider medieval world. As though immersed in a kind of Canterbury Tales Alleyne meets pardoners, friars, palmers, hucksters, knights, peasants, franklins and soldiers allowing the reader to experience a veritable cross-section of medieval society in all of its varied glory. Sometimes this can come across as a bit too pat, as Doyle manages to have Alleyne cross paths with nearly every segment of medieval society on his journeys along the highways and byways of England and France. The characters of Alleyne, with his wide-eyed innocence, and Sir Nigel Loring, with his almost simplistically quixotic belief in the tenets of chivalry, give Doyle the chance to indulge in elements of chivalric romance, while the more hard-bitten archer Samkin Aylward and his less idealistic comrades in the White Company allow for a more pragmatic look at medieval warfare to be examined. Still, for all of the historical detail that Conan Doyle may have laden his story with, it definitely seems to come down on the side of idealistic chivalry; for despite its acknowledgment of the unending warfare with the goal of plunder that turned half of France into a wasted no-man’s land, sly allusions to the inherent naiveté of many of the ideals of chivalry through the literally and figuratively myopic Sir Nigel, and various references to the downtrodden peasantry (including a scene in which a tyrannical seigneur’s castle is attacked and destroyed by a starving peasant mob) the novel still often reads like the Middle Ages as produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was still an enjoyable read and further goes to show me Conan Doyle’s range as a writer.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Malum

    The kind of book you can imagine Tom Sawyer reading before running off into the woods to pretend to be a knight. There isn't much of a central plot here; it's more about the different scrapes that the characters get into, but everyone is interesting enough to hold the reader's attention.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shiloah

    Loved, loved, loved! Galant knights, chivalry, a dash of healthy romance makes for a great story! It’s a shame more don’t know about this classic. Sir Nigel is one of my favorites of this tale. He is such a perfect example of a good husband and all-around good manly, godly man.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is my favorite most favorite book of all time ever. I love it for its adventure, its sweetness, its badass women (unusual for the time and even moreso for Conan Doyle,) its fun characters, and the fact that since it was originally a magazine serial, while it's exciting and fun it is episodic enough to put down when you want to do trivial things like sleep or go to work. What I didn't realize until I reread it as an adult is how funny it is. VERY dry humor, but there's a laugh in every line i This is my favorite most favorite book of all time ever. I love it for its adventure, its sweetness, its badass women (unusual for the time and even moreso for Conan Doyle,) its fun characters, and the fact that since it was originally a magazine serial, while it's exciting and fun it is episodic enough to put down when you want to do trivial things like sleep or go to work. What I didn't realize until I reread it as an adult is how funny it is. VERY dry humor, but there's a laugh in every line if that's how you get the giggles. The characters are very snarky, and you've got a narrator with his tongue firmly planted in cheek. If you're expecting deep secrets of the universe, you'll be disappointed. This is a pretty impressively historically accurate Technicolor romp full of awesome. And everybody who says it's for boys? Heck no! It's for swashbucklers at heart, male or female.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I actually finished this well over a week ago, so this will probably not be much of a review. The White Company contains some of the best ACD writing I've encountered. It's obvious, from the first few pages, with its English Cistercian abbey, that Conan Doyle did a tremendous amount of research for The White Company. The world of the abbey, with its tiered ordering of members, its work day, its prayer life, etc., is brought vividly to life as the giant-like novice, John of Hordle, is brought in I actually finished this well over a week ago, so this will probably not be much of a review. The White Company contains some of the best ACD writing I've encountered. It's obvious, from the first few pages, with its English Cistercian abbey, that Conan Doyle did a tremendous amount of research for The White Company. The world of the abbey, with its tiered ordering of members, its work day, its prayer life, etc., is brought vividly to life as the giant-like novice, John of Hordle, is brought in for discipline before the elders of the abbey. He rejects that punishment in an entertaining chair-tossing scene that could have easily come from an Errol Flynn movie. As entertaining as the scene is, you can't help but notice Conan Doyle's attention to Medieval world detail. But it is an attention to detail delivered with a light touch that informs the reader, but allows the characters to breathe. What follows are a number of adventures and mis-adventures between three intrepid friends (John Hordle, Alleyn Edricson (a clerk-in-training, also from the abbey), and Sam Aylward, a swashbuckling bowman recently back from the wars in France) as they travel through a wonderfully evoked English (and beyond) landscape. I found these travels very reminiscent of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, as you meet various "types" of inhabitants of the Medieval world. Knights, ladies, peasants, pirates, flagellants, mystics, sellers of fake relics, etc. Anyway, these friends soon find themselves a part of Sir Nigel Loring's White Company on their way back to some rousing adventures in France, and later Spain. Sir Nigel is an interesting character, who struck me, with his flowery speeches on chivalry, bald pate, and slight frame, as a kind of Quixiote. He's also a deadly fighter. (Conan Doyle would later write a prequel novel on Sir Nigel's early days.) I thought the ending for The White Company mildly annoying, but one I knew was coming from page 1. That (modern) quibble aside, it's a fine tale told by a master story-teller.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    Having read not only the Sherlock Holmes body of work, but the Professor Challenger stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I was somewhat surprised to discover that the good doctor also wrote historical fiction. Indeed, The White Company takes place in a rather intriguing part of European history known (somewhat erroneously) as the Hundred Years War. The White Company is the story of a cloister-raised young nobleman who discovers that his father was wise in establishing his legacy in giving him a ye Having read not only the Sherlock Holmes body of work, but the Professor Challenger stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I was somewhat surprised to discover that the good doctor also wrote historical fiction. Indeed, The White Company takes place in a rather intriguing part of European history known (somewhat erroneously) as the Hundred Years War. The White Company is the story of a cloister-raised young nobleman who discovers that his father was wise in establishing his legacy in giving him a year in the world before he could take his vows. Alleyne Edricson begins with the novel with an enchanting innocence and manages to hang onto a great deal of it while experiencing the gritty side of life and death. To be sure, the author writes about the futility of war with vivid images, but he also captures the rather odd idealism of romantic chivalry in the person of most of the knights which Alleyne meets, serves, fights alongside, or contends with. From a modern perspective, there are times when the reader wishes Doyle would quit having the characters lecture on chivalry and get to the action, but the action is worthwhile and interesting when it occurs. It is not as bloody as many video games or comic books of the present world, but there is carnage aplenty and the descriptions are occasionally more graphic than one would expect of an era where one spoke of lower limbs rather than legs. One even gets a glimpse of some of Doyle’s own feelings. “In the cloisters he had heard vague talk of the law—the mighty law which was higher than prelate or baron, yet no sign could he see of it. What was the benefit of a law written fair upon parchment, he wondered, if there were no officers to enforce it.” (p. 83 in my eBook version) “It was a terrible world, thought he, and it was hard to know which were the most to be dreaded, the knaves or the men of the law.” (p. 103) And his description of pillaging rang true, “By St. Paul! It is not they who carry the breach who are wont to sack the town, but the laggard knaves who come crowding in when a way has been cleared for them.” (pp. 466-467) At another point, Doyle described the land as so hostile that “…their only passports were those which hung from their belts.” (p. 881) When Alleyne is awestruck by appearances, a kind landlady of an inn offers this marvelous counsel, “You have had no great truck with the world or you would have learned that it is the small men and not the great who hold their noses in the air.” (p. 124) At another point, an archer contends, “Bless the lad, if he doth not blush like any girl, and yet preach like the whole College of Cardinals.” (p. 196) A few pages later, Alleyne preaches a brief sermon responding to a colleague who wants to defeat seven foes in a tournament. He says, “Here we are in the lists of life, and there come the seven black champions against us Sir Pride, Sir Covetousness, Sir Lust, Sir Anger, Sir Gluttony, Sir Envy, and Sir Sloth. Let a man lay those seven low, and he shall have the prize of the day, …” (pp. 208-209). I learned a new word. Doyle used the word “bobance,” a word for boasting that is derived from a type of fancy cloth, on more than one occasion (p. 168). In fact, if you look up the word on the web, you’re likely to run into the direct quotation on this from the novel. And, as an instructor in the history of games, I was delighted to see a reference to the game of Hazard (a medieval predecessor to Craps): “’Mort de ma vie!’ Aylward [a companion to Alleyne] shouted, looking down at the dice. ‘Never had I such cursed luck. A murrain on the bones! I have not thrown a good main since I left Navarre. A one and a three! En avant, comarade!’” (pp. 319-20) Doyle also brought in interesting references from history, noting “It was the age of martial women. The deeds of black Agnes of Dunbar, of Lady Salisbury and of the Countess of Montfort, were still fresh in the public minds.” (p. 331) This reminds readers of those staunch ladies who commanded the garrisons of their castles while holding off sieges while their lords were away at the wars. And I loved the reference to Geoffrey Chaucer, “…at the siege of Retters, there was a little, sleek, fat clerk of the name of Chaucer, who was so apt at rondel, sirvente, or sonson, that no man dare give back a foot from the walls, lest he find it all set down in his rhymes and sung by every underling and varlet in the camp.” (p. 349) The story is predictable and the resolution wouldn’t force any film director to recut the ending. Indeed, Doyle even closes with a moral summary: “Let us thank God if we have outgrown their vices. Let us pray to God that we may ever hold their virtues.” (p. 1221)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alissa

    I loved this one. I'm very happy I discovered this pearl by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an author I've come to appreciate after reading all the Sherlock Holmes short stories and novellas available. I was surprised to read Doyle engaged with a historical novel, and at the depth of his research. Also the writing style is quite different from the elegant, yet very fresh style employed in the Sherlock Holmes stories, it aims to capture the spirit of the time portrayed, which is the earlier part of the Hu I loved this one. I'm very happy I discovered this pearl by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an author I've come to appreciate after reading all the Sherlock Holmes short stories and novellas available. I was surprised to read Doyle engaged with a historical novel, and at the depth of his research. Also the writing style is quite different from the elegant, yet very fresh style employed in the Sherlock Holmes stories, it aims to capture the spirit of the time portrayed, which is the earlier part of the Hundred Years War. This novel centers around four characters, mainly Alleyne Edricson and Sir Nigel Loring, and then the veteran archer Samkin Aylward and freshly recruited John of Hordle. The book is riddled with comic relief scenes, and it's intriguing to see how the author conveyed the medieval feel with impeccable British humor. The descriptions of the landscape are lavish, rich, masterfully rendered, and those of the scenes, people and objects carefully depicted. I lack the historical background to judge the minutiae, but with a modern word, the world-building is truly compelling and I was amazed at Doyle's writing style versatility. The registry is intentionally archaic, probably to further immerse the reader in the epic of the time, but wholly understandable (just a little galore of thou, art, shalt, fain, rede and the likes, it's never bad to learn new words after all), even for me who read English as a secondary language. It's atmospheric! The characters are wonderfully stereotyped, in a very clever manner because each integrates with the others to sweep the reader in the English countryside, on-board overloaded vessels, in the lists at Bordeaux, in the war-stricken French countryside until the lands of Spain. Doyle subtly, and none-too-subtly at times, intertwines his own views about classes, the roles of men and women in the society and the widespread inequality between peasants and gentles, highlighting the much more "advanced" philosophy of England (let's state facts, there's still a royal family in the UK) compared with the other rules of the period, and its archery might. The book mainly follows pious Alleyne, when, being twenty of age, he is released to the world from the abbey of Beaulieu as per his deceased sire's will, so he can see it with his own eyes before committing his life one way of another. Doyle critics the church's tenets, petty rules and conservative attitude which ensnares men in a "narrow, stagnant circle of existence" with a sharp-edged sarcasm, but also through young Alleyne, grown-up but ignorant of the world, presents a colorful society rife with "injustice and violence and the hardness of man to man", where the lights and shadows of life are never clearly divided. As he travels on, he meets with a motley of characters exacerbating the various aspects of humanity, the good and the bad, and he's soon accompanied by Sir Loring, the steadfast embodiment of the ballads' ideal of chivalry (at least in manner), roguish bear-sized John, still berated by his elder mother and witty, picaresque Aylward, whose vision of the world and manner of speech are a joy from start to end. The reader learns with the naive protagonist that "what men are and what men profess to be are very wide asunder" and at times, "ignorance may be more precious than wisdom", so not to lose faith in your neighbor by too much cynicism. The namesake White Company is met way into the second half of the book, but the tale centers around it and eventually the Spanish campaign of prince Edward of England. The story is interesting, featuring knights, romance, family feuds, feat-of-arms, tilts, romance, battle, bloodshed, military strategies, a little coming-of-age ((view spoiler)[no, Alleyne doesn't rush back to the abbey :) (hide spoiler)] ) and it's quite fast-paced, even rushed at the end (I felt the last part could have been elaborated further); it's totally, utterly, absolutely hilarious, partial to the "grandeur anglaise" -but it's not impeding, apart probably from the scene of chapter XXIX- and describing human condition with a levity of great quality. Vividly recommended. "Your Company has been, then, to bow knee before our holy father, the Pope Urban, the prop and centre of Christendom?" asked Alleyne, much interested. "Perchance you have yourself set eyes upon his august face?" "Twice I saw him," said the archer [Aylward]. "He was a lean little rat of a man, with a scab on his chin. The first time we had five thousand crowns out of him, though he made much ado about it. The second time we asked ten thousand, but it was three days before we could come to terms, and I am of opinion myself that we might have done better by plundering the palace. His chamberlain and cardinals came forth, as I remember, to ask whether we would take seven thousand crowns with his blessing and a plenary absolution, or the ten thousand with his solemn ban by bell, book and candle. We were all of one mind that it was best to have the ten thousand with the curse...."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marquise

    This very much follows the same storyline and tropes as the prequel, "Sir Nigel," to the point that it feels more like a rehash of the plot. What I'm noticing is that you like one or the other depending on which you read first, for both novels are too similar to offer something different. Perhaps that this one has a group of characters as the protagonists, and not just Loring as in the other novel, and that its more adventure-focused, which makes sense as this is an archer's company at war. Enjo This very much follows the same storyline and tropes as the prequel, "Sir Nigel," to the point that it feels more like a rehash of the plot. What I'm noticing is that you like one or the other depending on which you read first, for both novels are too similar to offer something different. Perhaps that this one has a group of characters as the protagonists, and not just Loring as in the other novel, and that its more adventure-focused, which makes sense as this is an archer's company at war. Enjoyable is the right word for this novel, but I'm still left with a feeling that it wasn't substantial enough. It's more for young readers who delight in classic swashbuckling than for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    K.

    A few, sorrily disjointed, thoughts. Wow--felt like reading Sir Walter Scott. Fun book. Truly a "boys" book--moreso than I found I could take--almost. Filled with battles, blood and descriptions of armor and weapons, ad nauseum. Set during the 100 years war. Super characters, unique and whimsical. Was the age of chivalry really like that? Seriously, there was a passage that talked about how the knights would take a vow to do some great feat of arms for their ladies, and that an eye-patch would b A few, sorrily disjointed, thoughts. Wow--felt like reading Sir Walter Scott. Fun book. Truly a "boys" book--moreso than I found I could take--almost. Filled with battles, blood and descriptions of armor and weapons, ad nauseum. Set during the 100 years war. Super characters, unique and whimsical. Was the age of chivalry really like that? Seriously, there was a passage that talked about how the knights would take a vow to do some great feat of arms for their ladies, and that an eye-patch would be the symbol of that vow, and that the knights wouldn't take them off until they'd felt they'd done something truly terrific--it cracked me up. Think on it, hundreds of knights in a battle with eye-patches on. Gee whiz. The idea of battle for honor's sake, not for need, but purely to do a feat of arms to win honor in the name of the fair loved maiden. Gag. Surely that wasn't really what the 100 years war was about--men with nothing better to do?? :) Not likely, but it made the story funny. I appreciated that the author mentioned several times that the clean life/pure living of the hero was what saved him in many of his perils. Ancient Catholicism baffles me. The modern reader seriously needs a good dictionary to go with this book. On a single page one might find 20 instances where it would come in handy. Want to know what an arbalast is? Or none-meat? Now I know. There was a certain passage that had me a bit puzzled, as I sat pondering it--did it mean what I thought it meant? If so, men never do change, but seems a more modern thing to say... The hero (who has been reared in an Abbey among monks and is on his first journey out into the world) is walking along with two chance companions; they meet a man who professes to be training his sons up to revenge him upon the hateful Scots. After they leave him, the old soldier remarks: "I have a liking for that north countryman," he remarked presently. "He hath good power of hatred. Couldst see by his cheek and eye that he is as bitter as verjuice. I warm to a man who hath some gall in his liver." "Ah me!" sighed Alleyne (monkish hero). "Would it not be better if he had some love in his heart?" "I would not say nay to that. By my hilt! I shall never be said to be traitor to the little king. Let a man love the sex. Pasques Dieu! they are made to be loved, les petites, from whimple down to shoe-string! I am right glad, mon garcon, to see that the good monks have trained thee so wisely and so well." "Nay, I meant not worldly love, but rather that his heart should soften towards those who have wronged him." The little king?? Ha ha. Very fun and very different from what we all think of when we think of Conan Doyle. Not the very BEST in the blood & morality tales, but a good runner-up. BTW: ILLUSTRATIONS BY N.C. WYETH--AWESOME!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Polansky

    It's kind of interesting to read totally mediocre genre stuff of previous generations, just sort of as an artifact. But this book is basically pretty stupid. Doyle has done his homework and there are some interesting bits about monks, but it's mostly pure melodrama, and the characterization is shoddy as a tree house made by drunken children. It's basically just a bit pile of shit, but I didn't mind it while I was reading it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    This is officially the first time I've ever read a full length non- Sherlock Holmes novel from Arthur Conan Doyle. Luckily I enjoyed this adventure even though it's so different. It's a good experience following this company of characters. If you're interested in The Three Musketeers, this is definitely for you.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    There is nothing better than a motley crew of adventurers setting out on a journey. They laugh, they tell stories, they meet travelers on the road, get into fights, get ripped off by con men...you name it, there's something new around every corner. Conan Doyle did an amazing job with this novel - a mix of Canterbury Tales, the adventures of R.L. Stevenson, with the attitude of The Three Musketeers. Lots of chivalric fun! Is there any such thing as a Landlubber Swashbuckler? Loved it. Almost forg There is nothing better than a motley crew of adventurers setting out on a journey. They laugh, they tell stories, they meet travelers on the road, get into fights, get ripped off by con men...you name it, there's something new around every corner. Conan Doyle did an amazing job with this novel - a mix of Canterbury Tales, the adventures of R.L. Stevenson, with the attitude of The Three Musketeers. Lots of chivalric fun! Is there any such thing as a Landlubber Swashbuckler? Loved it. Almost forgot to mention - that signature phrase "The game is afoot!" is not neglected by ACD here - I found it twice, and it made me smile.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A.G.

    Aspects of The White Company that I enjoyed and that brought the reader into the age of the Hundred Years' War was Doyle's use of the antiquated language rather than using the factual, to-the-point succinct, modern style of writing that we see in the Sherlock Holmes books. This adventure story is beautifully written in a picaresque, episodic style that captures the journey of naive, monastery-educated Edricson into the rough outside world where he encounters for the first time ruffians, con arti Aspects of The White Company that I enjoyed and that brought the reader into the age of the Hundred Years' War was Doyle's use of the antiquated language rather than using the factual, to-the-point succinct, modern style of writing that we see in the Sherlock Holmes books. This adventure story is beautifully written in a picaresque, episodic style that captures the journey of naive, monastery-educated Edricson into the rough outside world where he encounters for the first time ruffians, con artists, a damsel in distress and befriends two men, Sam Aylward and Hordle John, the first a high-spirited woman-crazy archer, the second a renegade herculean novice from his own monastery. Doyle's descriptions of the settings, action, and characters during Edricson's travels in both England and France have been termed as " word-painting," where through Erdricson's eyes, the reader sees his world as in a painting and enters the narrative landscape. Doyle also presents characters from every class and trade, which allows him to depict the age’s pageantry, chivalry, roguishness, brutality, greed, poverty and class inequality. A familiar scene we have experienced in our own times is that of the uprising of peasants who turn with murderous rage on their polished, well-fed oppressors and attempt to burn the Chateau of Villefranche. The action increases in the second half of the book and through Doyle's writing, the reader becomes immersed in the action as well. The threads of the story are neatly brought together at the end.

  18. 4 out of 5

    An Odd1

    If reading online (I prefer illustrated books) http://www.hotfreebooks.com uses dictionaryone.com to define words (and find words), but other sources at: http://aneyespy.blogspot.com/2011/12/... Definitions Some words are not in the dictionary, such as "none-meat", although "none" is 3pm. "Bouvary", like piscatorium, Doyle defines himself, saying "or" ox-farm, fish-pond. http://aneyespy.blogspot.ca/2012/01/d... Definitions were added to my blog list as I noticed them, not alphabetical, so you'll ha If reading online (I prefer illustrated books) http://www.hotfreebooks.com uses dictionaryone.com to define words (and find words), but other sources at: http://aneyespy.blogspot.com/2011/12/... Definitions Some words are not in the dictionary, such as "none-meat", although "none" is 3pm. "Bouvary", like piscatorium, Doyle defines himself, saying "or" ox-farm, fish-pond. http://aneyespy.blogspot.ca/2012/01/d... Definitions were added to my blog list as I noticed them, not alphabetical, so you'll have to Ctrl-F "search", because they appeared sooner than noted. Apparently Doyle's mother fed him heraldry, and he knew archery. At times, his jargon went beyond my basic French. I spent so much time distracted by translations, I read again for the story, and found undefined terms earlier. Plot - meet hero Alleyne In Beaulieu (French for "fine place") Abbey, the head Abbot Berghersh banishes huge ginger John Hordle, a novice of great appetite and teasing nature - our first humorous interlude, and fight scene. Next, he unwillingly bids farewell to our hero and viewpoint, lithe blonde grey-eyed youth Alleyne. The naive monastery-raised orphan must follow his dead father Edrick's wish, to roam the world for his twentieth year. Enroute, Alleyne helps Peter, fuller of Lymington, a small man, tricked out of his clothes by the larger John, twice. He meets odd eccentrics, tumblers, rescues an old lady, and sees Herward, fearsome Southampton bailiff, enact deadly justice to two robbers. In the Pied Merlin tavern, the ex-monks John and Alleyne meet Samkin Aylward, veteran archer and womanizer. Sam wagers his feather bed, wrestling John for a year's service in France with his White Company, and wins. Like Sidney Paget, Strand magazine illustrator for Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, artist N.C. Wyeth, in vivid color, here adds dimension and flavor - crimson firelight burnishes ginger John. Sam has a letter requesting Sir Nigel Loring take command of the White Company, so he and John head to Loring in Christchurch. (view spoiler)[ At his home estate, Minstead, Alleyne saves the lovely Maude from his mean elder brother, always called Socman (landlord), who sets the dogs on them. Upon learning Alleyne will head for Sir Nigel, Maude laughs. The skill and wisdom of the knight belie his small lisping calvus (balding) polite exterior. Nigel asks Alleyne to be his squire, and tutor his daughter, who turns out to be Maude, and two other maidens. When the friends depart for France, the young couple admit their love, only to each other. After more adventures, fun and fearful, the Company meet the Prince, battle French and Spanish. (hide spoiler)] My only disappointment was Doyle's interest in spirits, which led to prophetic visions of doom overpowering existing clues to an upcoming ambush and massacre even before the big conflict. (view spoiler)[ When Alleyne is missing, declared dead, Maude heads to a nunnery for a lifetime of seclusion. Alleyne rescues her, again, on the very doorstep. The Socman has died, Alleyne was knighted on his sickbed, John his squire. When they head back to France to look for still-missing Nigel and Sam, they meet their friends returning. Thus marriage and happy ever after for all, good night. (hide spoiler)]

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Oh, what language did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle use! What vocabulary! Verily, it was a delight to read such writing, even though I had previously never read anything by this author. It was recommended to me here, probably based on the Bernard Cornwell's books I read. The edition I read was the original, unabridged text, as stated inside by the publisher. Since the story takes place in the context of the Hundred Years War, differently described and yet similar to said Cornwell's works. Arthur Conan D Oh, what language did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle use! What vocabulary! Verily, it was a delight to read such writing, even though I had previously never read anything by this author. It was recommended to me here, probably based on the Bernard Cornwell's books I read. The edition I read was the original, unabridged text, as stated inside by the publisher. Since the story takes place in the context of the Hundred Years War, differently described and yet similar to said Cornwell's works. Arthur Conan Doyle made use of old English and French vocabulary and wording, which not only made it a joy to read and make the story more vivid, but it also made it a refreshing read when used to modern English. Other readers mention, as similarly styled, Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, which is also on my TBR-list (To Be Read). In short, even though other reviewers were better at describing the story: it's about an aristocratic boy who grew up in the abbey of Beaulieu, sent there by his father. It was arranged that at the age of 20, Alleyne Edricson was to leave the safe premises of the abbey and go out into the world. He is set to go visit (and live?) with his brother, the Socman of Minstead, but he sees his brother mistreating a young princess. Alleyne tries to intervene, but it leads to him being attacked by his brother, for he had to give up land to the abbey for the upbringing of Alleyne. So Alleyne has to flee and so his adventures begin. Alleyne obviously knows nothing of the world, more so of the word of God, and with this baggage he sets out to discover humanity. And is perplexed of how one human can maltreat another, be it with words or actions. He prefers to reconciliate people, have them set aside their quarrels and issues. He meets a few knights, archers (part of the White Company), and so arrives at the castle of Sir Nigel Loring, who is bound to march to war with Spain. Alleyne becomes the lord's squire, since he can read, write and paint, while the lord is of course skilled in other domains. The description of the adventures preceding the war itself (which breaks loose in the last +/- 100 pages), of the various factions (English, French, Spanish), the various kings, warlords, et cetera shows that Sir Doyle really has made his homework and put a lot of effort in writing a worthwhile story. The book is a very nice read about life in the 14th century, about hardship, about love, about friendship, and more. Arthur Conan Doyle applied a very descriptive style to demonstrate this; the environment, the clothing, the dialogues, everything. All to make you imagine better what happened, bow it happened, but also to eaily put yourself in the shoes of e.g. Alleyne, Nigel Loring or other characters, but of course foremost Alleyne, since he's a central and vital character (his upbringing contrasting with his real life experiences). If you like to read something refreshing, compared to modern writings, then I can really recommend this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    I read this book many years ago. I remember that Doyle was disappointed this book wasn't as well received as his Holmes mysteries. Even though I young reader, I found this book seems too English, to serious and too self-aware. Oh, it's a good story and Doyle told it well. It just seemed that the reader was too aware of him trying. Of course, we shouldn't be. We should be impressed in the world and the story and pay no attention to the insignificant man behind the curtain. We shouldn't even be aw I read this book many years ago. I remember that Doyle was disappointed this book wasn't as well received as his Holmes mysteries. Even though I young reader, I found this book seems too English, to serious and too self-aware. Oh, it's a good story and Doyle told it well. It just seemed that the reader was too aware of him trying. Of course, we shouldn't be. We should be impressed in the world and the story and pay no attention to the insignificant man behind the curtain. We shouldn't even be aware of the curtain, just the story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    AN excellent tale of high adventure during the Hundred Years' War. In the Scott mould, although without Scott's epic lift. Still, Doyle is a great storyteller with an eye for the sort of detail that brings this far-away era to vivid life. And it isn't all action, all the way, in between the big-ticket combat scenes we're treated to a panorama of vignettes of 14th-century life as our heroes travel from the English countryside to France and then Spain in search of battles to be fought.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Yibbie

    One of Doyle's best works. I love the characters, and the plot line while not surprising is interesting. It's a fine adventure story. The nobility and morals are very well put. While it is not a Christian book, it is very clean. The beginnings of the Protestant Reformation is looked on favorably, and the Catholic Church comes in for a deal of censure.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Juho Pohjalainen

    This one gave me rather a lot more to think about moralities and values than it probably intended to, and how to maintain character sympathy even while they do things we modern folk might well find deplorable. It was a worthy read just for that sake, and pretty exciting and occasionally tense in its own right for that matter.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steffanie Anderson

    A challenging read but well worth the trouble. Conan Doyle never fails to capture humanity at its best and most cleverly comical. Thanks to my Dad for the recommendation.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kailey (BooksforMKs)

    Young Alleyne has had a sheltered up-bringing in a monastery, learning how to read and paint, but knowing very little about normal life in Medieval England. When he ventures out into the world as a young man, he finds a place as squire to the famous knight, Sir Nigel, the leader of the White Company, a band of English archers. They march to war with Spain, and Alleyne is determined to win glory, love, riches, and honor without losing the saintly virtues that the monks taught him as a child. I lov Young Alleyne has had a sheltered up-bringing in a monastery, learning how to read and paint, but knowing very little about normal life in Medieval England. When he ventures out into the world as a young man, he finds a place as squire to the famous knight, Sir Nigel, the leader of the White Company, a band of English archers. They march to war with Spain, and Alleyne is determined to win glory, love, riches, and honor without losing the saintly virtues that the monks taught him as a child. I loved the adventure, the action, the rousing dialogue, and knightly courage! The plot ran through all these unexpected turns that took me by surprise. Castles besieged, and pirates on the Channel, jousting tournaments that go haywire, and even that inevitable mysterious knight in black armor who refuses to tell his name until someone defeats him. And there were so many episodes of little everyday doings scattered in with the big chivalrous deeds that gave spice to the whole story! The characters are all so noble and generous, and just like you would imagine medieval knights to be. Every character has their own funny quirks, and their own strengths and foolish weaknesses. There is such a wide stretch of people in this book, and yet it never felt like too much. Alleyne befriends two of the archers in the White Company, and those three stick together through all the adventures of war. They joke around and share everything, and they are so hearty and laughing and brave. Naturally, Alleyne falls in love and must prove himself to be worthy of the lady. I thought their romance was sweet and lovely, but also sort of tart and peppery since it's all wrapped up in the adventure, and the lady is sassy and independent. I loved it! The only bad points in this book are that the ending came a little too quickly, and needed some more denouement in the last scenes; and that there are many descriptive passages, well-written and beautifully vivid, but which could have been more concise. I had to read the book with a dictionary and a French translator, since many of the words are archaic, and sometimes even the dictionary didn't know the word because it was so archaic!! I loved learning the new words, though I will probably never use them. Here are some you will need to know... Solleret: a flexible steel shoe forming part of a medieval suit of armor Banderole: a long narrow forked flag or streamer Devoir: duty, responsibility Camisado: an attack by night Franklin: a medieval English landowner of free but not noble birth Arbalest: a crossbow especially of medieval times Venery: the art, act, or practice of hunting Caitiff: cowardly, despicable Tallage: an impost or due levied by a lord upon his tenants Sicker: secure, safe; dependable (chiefly Scotland) Rede : to give counsel to : advise Wapentake: a subdivision of some English shires corresponding to a hundred Kermis: an outdoor festival of the Low Countries Sokeman (or socman): a man who is under the soke of another : a tenant by socage

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Di Giacomo

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes mysteries for money. He wrote historical romances for love of writing. This book (and it's prequel, Sir Nigel) were his favourites among his own works, and it shows. You can tell that here is an author who is immersed in the joy of writing, and the exuberance even becomes a bit much at points. As an author, this is Doyle at his best. I am not much of an expert in the 100 years war or its era, but I am given to understand that his research was extensive Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote Sherlock Holmes mysteries for money. He wrote historical romances for love of writing. This book (and it's prequel, Sir Nigel) were his favourites among his own works, and it shows. You can tell that here is an author who is immersed in the joy of writing, and the exuberance even becomes a bit much at points. As an author, this is Doyle at his best. I am not much of an expert in the 100 years war or its era, but I am given to understand that his research was extensive and that it is a faithful depiction of life at the time. In many ways this is a beautiful book; even the less savoury elements are described with such relish that they seem beautiful and wonderful. However.... (mild spoilers follow): One feels that almost the entirety of the book is buildup, with the hilarious adventures of the protagonists on their way to find a war which, when they find it, is over before you even know it. The war itself, no doubt true to history, seems rather pointless and one wonders that anyone ever was so willing to shed their blood (and those of their countryman) for such futile things. As such, the entire book seems somewhat pointless when all is said in done: there is no great quest or dire stakes, just men going out to fight to the bloody death because... well, because, that's what men do, and why on earth would you not want to? They thought differently back then. The main bad mark on this book is that the author's protestant bias comes through quite clearly. He clearly has no use for monasticism, asceticism or traditional Christianity: his idea of true religion is entirely carnal, and his attitude to the Catholicism of that era (which had not yet strayed so far from its Orthodox roots as it would in later centuries) could be described as condescension mixed with mild contempt. It is a rather sad blot on what is otherwise a very enjoyable read. I do recommend this book: they just do not write books like this nowadays, and it is a strong antidote (too strong, perhaps) to the effeminate, enervating and frankly demonic pseudo-values of modern culture.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dane Cobain

    This is some more of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s historic fiction, but unfortunately I didn’t quite find it as gripping as his Brigadier Gerard stories. I liked the accuracy and the research that he’d put in clearly comes across, but the plot itself wasn’t quite as gripping, perhaps because Sir Nigel Loring is less gripping than Gerard was. And both are pretty much standard old school colonialist types fighting for queen and country, which I can’t exactly relate to. As you might expect from the crea This is some more of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s historic fiction, but unfortunately I didn’t quite find it as gripping as his Brigadier Gerard stories. I liked the accuracy and the research that he’d put in clearly comes across, but the plot itself wasn’t quite as gripping, perhaps because Sir Nigel Loring is less gripping than Gerard was. And both are pretty much standard old school colonialist types fighting for queen and country, which I can’t exactly relate to. As you might expect from the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the plotting and the pacing was pretty good. Some of the dialogue was questionable because he spent a lot of time trying to imitate dialects etc, but overall it was readable enough. If anything, it was more the setting and the characters that held me back from loving it, although I did appreciate it for what it is. There’s always something kind of fascinating about reading historical fiction that itself is historical, and I’ve always thought it was kind of cool that as well as writing the Holmes books, Conan Doyle also wrote The Lost World (a cracking read) and some historical fiction. Let’s just not talk about when he started to believe in fairies and stuff. So this isn’t really something for the general reader, and it’s probably best avoided if you only know of Conan Doyle because of Holmes. If you’re a long-term fan and want to delve deeper into his work though, or if you’re particularly interested in historical fiction, it might be worth checking out. For my part, I’m glad I read it, but I’m also glad that I read it as a bedtime book and so I didn’t have to spend huge chunks of time with it. I could dip in and out at will, often reading chapters instead of entire stories, so there was plenty there to enjoy – just over time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael Philliber

    Written in 1891, long before the hyper-sensitivities of the more extreme egalitarianism and high-brow "tolerance" of the 21st Century. This historical-fiction about a small sliver of the 100 Years War deftly plays out the rags-to-riches rise of Alleyne, or more accurately, from cloister-to-Gold Spurs. Much of the turns-of-phrase reminded me of Howard Pyle's Robin Hood, penned around the same time. The major characters - whether men or women - are humorous, noble, brave and gallant. The storyline, Written in 1891, long before the hyper-sensitivities of the more extreme egalitarianism and high-brow "tolerance" of the 21st Century. This historical-fiction about a small sliver of the 100 Years War deftly plays out the rags-to-riches rise of Alleyne, or more accurately, from cloister-to-Gold Spurs. Much of the turns-of-phrase reminded me of Howard Pyle's Robin Hood, penned around the same time. The major characters - whether men or women - are humorous, noble, brave and gallant. The storyline, action, adventure, successes, failures and dialogue are attention-keeping. There is subtle distaste toward the Roman Catholic Church and the cloister that likely reflect 19th Century England, but it does not detract from the tale. The novel will appeal to teens as well as adults. It was a fun summer read. I happily recommend the book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Belyea

    Leaving his monastery to learn of the world, young Alleyne soon joins up with many a tough and true character, including the famed Sir Nigel, who takes him as his squire and across the seas to face the Spanish army for the fate of their country. Doyle will delight fans with this exciting and endearing tale of chivalry and brotherhood, one that will entertain readers for generations to come. What will Alleyne see on hos journey, and will it be enough to convince him that the world beyond the wall Leaving his monastery to learn of the world, young Alleyne soon joins up with many a tough and true character, including the famed Sir Nigel, who takes him as his squire and across the seas to face the Spanish army for the fate of their country. Doyle will delight fans with this exciting and endearing tale of chivalry and brotherhood, one that will entertain readers for generations to come. What will Alleyne see on hos journey, and will it be enough to convince him that the world beyond the walls of the monastery is worth living for?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Engrossing historical fiction by Sherlock Holmes’ creator Modern readable prose tells a late Medieval era tale of the adventures of a young English squire who goes to war in Spain with the Company of an eminent knight, Sir Nigel. Is forgotten how clear a writer Doyle is. This is a rousing tale. A bit gruesome in a few bits about battles. I enjoyed it.

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