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Agincourt is one of the epic battles of history It was fought by two badly matched armies that met in atrocious conditions on St Crispin's Day 1415 and resulted in an extraordinary victory that was celebrated in England long before Shakespeare immortalised it in Henry V It has always been held to be the triumph of the longbow against the armoured knight and of the common man against the feudal aristocrat but those are history's myths Bernard Cornwell who has long wanted to write this story depicts the reality behind the mythsNicholas Hook is an English archer He seems born to trouble and when his lord orders him to London as part of a force sent to uell an expected Lollard uprising Nick's headstrong behaviour leads to him being proscribed an outlaw He finds refuge across the Channel part of an English mercenary force protecting the town of Soissons against the French What happened at the Siege of Soissons shocked all Europe and propels Nick back to England where he is enrolled in the archer companyof the doughty Sir John Cornwaille a leader of Henry V's army The army was superb but sickness and the unexpected French defiance at Harfleur reduce it to near shambolic condition Henry stubbornly refuses to accept defeat and in appalling weather leads his shrunken force to what appears to be inevitable disaster Azincourt culminates in the battle Seen from several points of view on the English side but also from the French ranks the scene is vivid convincing and compelling Bernard Cornwell has a great understanding of men at war and battlefields and this is his masterpiece This is what it must have been like to fight at Agincourt

10 thoughts on “Agincourt

  1. says:

    Bernard Cornwell that bastard has written a goddamn straightforward story about the bastardly Battle of Agincourt just enjoyable enough to get me through to the goddamn end The forced romantic storyline was as unnecessary as the goddamn gory battle details but I understand that they are there for a goddamn reason However overall it's just not goddamned engaging enough for me to give this goddamn bastard of a book than two goddamn bastardly stars Also I am completely done with the words goddamn and bastard Reading bad words doesn't bother me but overused words do goddamn itI've read some 30 books of Cornwell's and loved just about every one of them so I was surprised by my reaction to this one Oh well It won't stop me from reading and of his awesome stuff

  2. says:

    Bernard Cornwell is absolutely terrible at showing the softer side of war This book was filled with violent gritty visceral dishonorable disgusting horrific acts of warfare and I loved every page of it It's apparent from Cornwell's writing that the man has done his homework The battles spring to life just like the great yew longbows mentioned in the book The siege and battle seuences were so well written that I could almost smell the blood piss and shit However it has been a very long time since I've cleaned my reading room so maybe that had something to do with the aroma I highly recommend this one for fans of historical fiction and medieval warfarePS I need to see about ordering a halberd from eBayGet your copy here

  3. says:

    The tale of the battle of Agincourt told through the eyes of an archer Nicholas HooksCornwell is a master of captured the drama of history from different perspective and making the story come alive And in that he's very successful here It's clear he's done his research and knows his history He knows the nuances of the period and ably weaves them into the storyHe does this by creating a character we can follow and genuinely care about Nick is an archer in training who uickly becomes an outlaw He strikes a priest trying to do the right thing and is forced to flee England He becomes a mercenary in France but is forced to return home There he comes under the sovreign of the king and is put back into the archer core to fight and take back the throne of France Along the way he saves a nun from being raped and eventually takes her as his wife Cornwell points out that convents were used to hide women to prevent noble men from taking advantage of them and producing bastard offspringThe best parts of the story are the battles Cornwell excels in creating vivid realistic and compelling battle seuences that will draw you in and keep the pages turning Where the novel loses a bit of steam is during the moments in between where we have to set things up for the next battle I can understand why they must be done and they do make the history of the period and events come alive But they just pale in comparison to the battle seuences Whether this is a fair criticism or not I will leave to fellow readers to decide

  4. says:

    This was my first Bernard Cornwell novel and I picked it up because I wanted to learn about the historical background of the Battle of Azincourt one of the significant battles in the Hundred Years' War and about Henry V of England When I closed the book I was a little disappointed at the dearth of historical details relating to the ultimate and proximate causes that led to the battle and the character of Henry V still seemed somewhat blurry in my headIn the sweltering summer of 1415 the English army having crossed the channel engaged in the siege of Harfleur in Normandy which ended in a hard won English victory This prelude is followed by the English march north towards Calais English occupied Then in the rainy and gloomy month of October the English army had to face off with the far outnumbering French army waiting in the muddy field of Azincourt in Picardy The battle scenes are vividly drawn with lots of gore savagery horror and obscenities and feces too Descriptions about armor weapons and archery in particular the usage of longbows are expertly detailed But some episodes as well as the ending of the novel come across as a bit clichedI did come away with a better understanding of why the English and the French hated each other's guts for so long

  5. says:

    So I had high hopes for this one I think I also hold Cornwell to a higher standard than most authors So even though I'm only giving it three stars this is probably a better account of a historical English battle in the Hundred Years War than most you will find I just can't give it the same number of stars as my least favorite book in The Saxon Stories if there even is such a thingFor starters our hero Nicholas Hook is kind of a bland guy but one that actually lived Which is pretty cool with one exception he hears the voices of saints Saint Crispin and Saint Crispinian to be exact This felt a little off to me but the connection is made clear in the end and it was a deviation from Cornwell's norm It was an interesting plot device and he pulled it off without making Hook seem utterly crazyI did appreciate Melisande who is a nun Hook saves from being raped at the sack of Soissons Generally speaking there aren't a lot of strong female characters to be found in Cornwell's writing but Melisande was a good of example of one he's written well She was feminine while still being strong and brave SirJohn Cornweaille was also a fantastic character and endlessly entertaining though he talks about cabbage farting French a lotThe battles are all told very well and are exciting The history in this book is about as accurate as I suspect it probably could have been only one archer in this book was truly invented Apparently all the others were names taken from the archives about Azincourt and it is that level of detail that I have come to love most about Cornwell's workI guess what wasn't working for me is that this book is fairly long between 400 500 pages and there weren't many sub plots happening The Archer's Tale which is the first in his Holy Grail trilogy is a retelling of the Battle of Crecy whose lopsided numbers in favor of the French were even impressive but it was also about Thomas finding his faith and making good on his promises to his father and God Unrelated sidenote I loved the nod that was given to The Archer's Tale Did anyone else catch it?This book is mostly about Nicholas Hook fighting in at Azincourt and finding redemption There just wasn't enough else happening to support the 450 page book length All in all a solid read if a little slow at times I would recommend this to people interested in the Hundred Years War Azincourt and Cornwell fans

  6. says:

    I just love good historical fiction It brings history to life for me in a way that those boring history lessons at school never did My favourite writers in this genre are Conn Iggulden and Bernard Cornwell although there are many others who light up all of my lightsThere are many books about the Battle of Agincourt but this has to rate as one of the best That is unless you want the non fiction factual version of events But who is to say what is factual? There is even much disagreement amongst the scholars of the periodThe story as told by Cornwell follows the life of an archer Nick Hook He is outlawed early in the narration for hitting a priest The priest deserved much than a punch in the stomach for what he did but Hook would've been caught and hung had he meted out the correct justiceNick is a brilliant archer and soon finds himself in France in Soissons where he witnesses some horrendous betrayal and violence but those events lead to one positive outcome he meets the lady who is eventually to become his wife I can't say much without giving away the whole story and I don't want to spoil it for youThere is a lot of graphic violence in this book but it is I believe the reality of that ageview spoilerOne totally unbelievable episode in the book comes towards the end Sir Martin eventually manages to corner Hook's wife Melisande and attempts to rape her Whilst pinned down by her assailant she manages to reach into her personal sack with one hand load her crossbow jam it between her body and his wouldn't it be too big? and pull the trigger Ridiculous If she'd stabbed him in the neck with a crossbow bolt or a small dagger I could've swallowed that but this version of events was just impossible hide spoiler

  7. says:

    As always Cornwell delivered a wonderful story that was impeccably researched and moved along well I have to say that Bastard is my new favorite insult after reading this It's annoying my dog I think but everyone in this book was a bastard

  8. says:

    I have read The Grail uest series The first two books of the Starbucks Chronicles The Winter King Stonehenge Gallows Thief and the Saxon series Bernard Cornwell is master of historical fiction and provides a crackling good read as well as being a must for enthusiasts of military history and war gamersCornwell tells the story of an archer in the English army Nicholas Hook from a common background having fled England as an outlaw and haunted by his failing of having rescued a Lollard girl Sarah who is burned to death during Henry V's mass burning of the Lollard religious dissidentsCornwell recounts the sieges of Harfleur and Soissons where Nick rescues a beautiful young nun from being raped and murdered The horror of the mass murder at Soissons of both English archers and the murder French civilians is graphically recounted her by an author who knows how to bring the re inaction historical atrocities to vivid life His enmity with the evil sir Martin and the Perrill brothers his love of the beautiful Melisande the camaraderie with fellow archers and a kindly monk Father Christopher are all well illustrated as are lots of action and suspense A nuanced portrayal of Henry V and above all Nick's communication with Saint Crispinian and Saint Crispin who speak to him and guide him are central features of a crackling good read and well studied historical recreation of the invasion of France by Henry and its finale in the Battle of Agincourt where 9 000 English archers and soldiers beat a 30 000 strong French army Cornwell is certainly a master of historical fiction

  9. says:

    Bernard Cornwell must be the most obsessive novelist of English military history that lives or maybe that ever lived While this may seem a boring or potentially monochromatic palette in his hands it is an amazing canvas Here he deals with the battle that made Henry V the stuff of legends Though we get a very interesting portrait of him the story as is typical of Cornwell is told from the perspective of a “mere” archer We learn how he got to be one of the king’s archers and the medieval system that existed in England with all of its petty privileges and burdens This has to be one of his best and it unlike some others is complete in itself A brilliant tour de force

  10. says:

    Note I apologize for the misspelling of Cornwell as Cromwell I changed it here but I can't change in the comments Amazing 5 Stars A new favorite author Such a good book though not without its uirks The main thing to note is that this book is about a famous battle so there is an extremely long battle scene I became a little tired of the scene but I realized this book is about a battle and so what did I expect I love the writing style of Bernard Cornwell I am excited to read his other historical fiction books which are not so heavy on battle scenes However anyone interested in reading his work should be prepared for bad language and violence Keep in mind that life was very much like he describes in his books so it's not gratuitous It is the way things were Cornwell does incredible amount of research It brings his characters to life and puts you in the middle of the story You can see smell and taste the historical settings He added a relationship to this book It gave the story a sweetness that contrasted beautifully with the treacherous world and even has a happy ending