Literature / The White Company
From the Illustrations by N.C. Wyeth
A historical novel by Arthur Conan Doyle, set during the Hundred Years' War. It mainly follows the adventures of Alleyne Edricson, who is squire to Sir Nigel Loring, and two of his comrades: Samkin Aylward and Hordle John as they travel across France to meet up with the eponymous White Company. Along the way, they have a quite a number of chance encounters, whereby much honor is gained through noble deeds and feats of arms.

Tropes include:

  • Annoying Arrows: Unsurprisingly averted, since the eponymous White Company is a band of semi-mercenary English longbowmen.
  • Bald of Awesome: Sir Nigel. Also spends much of the book wearing an eyepatch as part of a vow.
  • Big Eater: Sir Oliver Buttesthorne.
  • Cain and Abel: Alleyne and his brother, the Socman of Minstead.
  • Catch-Phrase: Aylward has several, such as "by my hilt!" and "by these ten finger-bones!"
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Aylward again. He thinks nothing of juggling three girlfriends and chasing anything in a skirt between visits, but he is very well aware of the difference between 'playing hard to get' and 'not interested', and won't chase a woman who doesn't want to be chased. Threaten a woman of any age or rank in his presence and you are dead.
  • Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa: Sir Nigel is a short, slender, almost frail-looking man, and Lady Mary is a tall and stocky woman.
  • The Consigliere: Lady Mary Loring proves quite capable of managing Twynham Castle in her husband's absence. Especially so when she manages to organize the castle's defenses to fend off a siege by the Socman of Minstead, which ends with his death and his mercenary army fleeing.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Several people are astonished to find that the legendary Sir Nigel Loring is in fact small, skinny, bald and near-sighted. The same people are usually even more astonished to find he more than lives up to his lethal reputation.
  • Fainting Seer: Lady Tiphaine, and her "blessed hour of sight."
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: The White Company is disbanded in the second-to-last chapter. For good reason, as there are only about 10 survivors remaining out of an original total of 400. That's a 97% death ratio.
  • Gratuitous French: Aylward, in particular.
  • The High Middle Ages
  • Historical-Domain Character: Many from The Hundred Years War, including Edward III and Edward, the Black Prince.
  • Honor Before Reason: Sir Nigel treads perilously close to this at times, although other characters (particularly the archers) take a more pragmatic approach.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Most of the chapter titles are this: "How Sir Nigel Sought For a Wayside Venture", "How England Held the Lists At Bordeaux", and so on.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Aylward. His first appearance is at the head of six men carrying his assorted French plunder, including a feather-bed.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Sir Nigel, of course, but also Chandos, du Guesclin, and many others.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When Sir Nigel gets captured by the Spanish in the final battle, they sell him as a galley slave. He manages to escape, kills the captain of the ship, and with some help from Samkin Aylward who had been trying to rescue him, they sail the galley back to England with a ton of riches in its hold.
  • Pirates: Spade-beard and Tête-noire are Type 1, assaulting the White Company's ship while they are crossing the English Channel.
  • Prequel: 15 years after this story's publication, Doyle wrote a prequel called Sir Nigel detailing Sir Nigel's early life and how he met Sam Aylward.
  • Power Trio: Alleyne, Aylward, and Hordle John.
  • Rags to Riches: Hordle John eventually finds fortune when he captures and ransoms a Spanish knight. Alleyne as well, once his wicked brother dies, he inherits the Socman's land and holdings.
  • Rescue Romance: Alleyne first meets Lady Maude Loring when he spirits her away from the Socman of Minstead's harassment. The second time they meet at Twynham Castle, it's pretty obvious they are into each other.
  • Suddenly Suitable Suitor: Late in the plot, the Socman of Minstead is killed while besieging Twynham Castle, which means Alleyne now owns a sizable estate and a small fortune. It is after he finds this out that he approaches Sir Nigel to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. Actually a bit better than most examples of this trope, as Nigel would have also required a potential husband to be a man who had proven his courage under fire in addition to being able to support a wife, and Alleyne had definitely proved that in his travels with the White Company.
  • Suffer the Slings: A group of slingers are part of the Knights of Calatrava & Santiago, the Spanish army that the White Company engages in battle near the end. They are far from harmless, as the slingers kill the archer Johnston as well as over twenty of his men. A bit later, when Alleyne is trying to climb down a cliff in order to find help for the White Company, one of these slingers decides to take potshots at him. Alleyne is hit twice, and he suffers shattered ribs and a concussion.
    • This is during the historical battle of Navarrete, where the Spanish did indeed have a sizable contingent of slingers.
  • Taking the Veil: Lady Maude makes preparations to join a convent when she receives word that the White Company was wiped out to the last man, including her father and the man she loves. What she didn't know is that Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated. Alleyne returns to Twynham and takes her away from the convent to marry her.
  • The Lady's Favour: Sir Nigel carries one of his wife's gloves. It is not overly large.
  • The Tourney: complete with a Black Knight who turns out to be Bertrand du Guesclin
  • Tranquil Fury: Heaven help you if you insult Sir Nigel's lady.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Calling Sir Nigel "ugly" is a bit of a stretch, but he is small, skinny, balding and permanently squinting due to near-sightedness. Lady Maude, however, is drop-dead gorgeous.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Several, particularly the pirates and the peasant uprising. Sir Nigel seems to enjoy these, and is always on the lookout for them. On a more meta level, the real reason why the book reads like a collection of random adventures is because this was originally a serialized publication.
  • Worthy Opponent: Sir Nigel and Bertrand du Guesclin. Reaches Enemy Mine levels when the two of them are trapped by the Jacquerie.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The whole book is written in this style, although it's fairly well done.