Review: Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell


This book is not for the faint of heart. It is very gorey, very violent, very blunt, and shocking. The brutality of war is definitely written about in very descriptive language. This extends to the further crudities of disease and carnal desires.

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FROM THE STASH IS JUST MY WAY TO DENOTE WHEN SOMETHING IS FROM BEFORE I HAD THE BLOG. I HAVE BEEN REVIEWING BOOKS SINCE JANUARY 2010 SO I’D LIKE TO SHOWCASE SOME OF THAT PAST WORK, AS WELL AS SAFEGUARD MY REVIEWS FOR POSTERITY.

agincourtAgincourt by Bernard Cornwell

Published: January 1st 2009 by HarperCollins
Format/Source: Purchased Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction
Originally reviewed: Sept. 25, 2011

Synopsis:

Young Nicholas Hook is dogged by a cursed past—haunted by what he has failed to do and banished for what he has done. A wanted man in England, he is driven to fight as a mercenary archer in France, where he finds two things he can love: his instincts as a fighting man, and a girl in trouble. Together they survive the notorious massacre at Soissons, an event that shocks all Christendom. With no options left, Hook heads home to England, where his capture means certain death. Instead he is discovered by the young King of England—Henry V himself—and by royal command he takes up the longbow again and dons the cross of Saint George. Hook returns to France as part of the superb army Henry leads in his quest to claim the French crown. But after the English campaign suffers devastating early losses, it becomes clear that Hook and his fellow archers are their king’s last resort in a desperate fight against an enemy more daunting than they could ever have imagined.

One of the most dramatic victories in British history, the battle of Agincourt—immortalized by Shakespeare in Henry V—pitted undermanned and overwhelmed English forces against a French army determined to keep their crown out of Henry’s hands. Here Bernard Cornwell resurrects the legend of the battle and the “band of brothers” who fought it on October 25, 1415. An epic of redemption, Agincourt follows a commoner, a king, and a nation’s entire army on an improbable mission to test the will of God and reclaim what is rightfully theirs. From the disasters at the siege of Harfleur to the horrors of the field of Agincourt, this exhilarating story of survival and slaughter is at once a brilliant work of history and a triumph of imagination—Bernard Cornwell at his best.

Review:

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Finding himself an outlaw for trying to do the right thing, Nick Hook finds himself placed in two infamous battles in France. The sacking of Soissons brings about two special relationships for Hook, one with a woman and the other with two protective saints. Hook later finds himself fighting for one of England’s best fighters in King Henry V’s attempted conquest of France for the throne.

Focused mainly on Hook, Agincourt traces the events leading towards this man’s presence in a battle that Shakespeare wrote about and grew to be a legend. That said, it occasionally switches perspectives to those close to Hook.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It is very gorey, very violent, very blunt, and shocking. The brutality of war is definitely written about in very descriptive language. This extends to the further crudities of disease and carnal desires.

With a historical note, this book is the perfect kind of historical fiction: as accurate as can be while still making it focused on the storytelling.

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