- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date:
- 11 June 2009
- Historical Fiction
Showing 1-4 out of 34 reviews. Previous | Next
Once again Bernard Cornwell excells in this fascinating novel.Only one thing bothered me and that was that I had read a similar book before maybe from the same author.But my memory deserts me.
I have always loved anything on Medieval history, even historical fiction. However, with this book, it is about as close to historical fact that a fiction book can be. It is meticulously researched and most of the characters in the story were actual soldiers in the battle on public record in France. I loved this book and the story it shows. If there is one book you are going to read on Medieval warfare, fact or fiction, this HAS to be it. Warning: it is very vulgar and gruesome, but that is how combat was back then.
Cornwell's writing is simply amazing. He expertly weaves the lives of his characters around huge events that allows the reader to experience both parts of history without feeling manipulated. It goes without saying that Cornwell's descriptions of battle and strategy are excellent, but his writing is equally stunning in how he brings individuals from such a foreign time and place to life.
Agincourt begins with a decision to commit murder. Nicholas Hook, an archer for the local lord, attempts to kill one of his family's sworn enemies, a member of the Perrill brood. He is convinced that if he were to kill a Perrill, the curse that plagues his family would be lifted. He would be welcomed home and all members of the Hook pride would flourish. Instead, he merely grazes Perrill, which he is convinced is the curse at work, and finds himself explaining the incident to his lord with as few words as he can summon, the norm for Hook. Thanks to the lord's soft spot for Hook he is shipped off to London without the punishment some believe he fully deserved. In London, after assisting in the execution of men and women deemed heretics, he hears a voice telling him to stop Sir Martin, a priest of his lord and a man not fond of Hook, from raping a young woman who was sentenced to die. He is uncertain of not only the voice, he believes it might be god speaking to him, but of what it is telling him to do. Hook leaves for France and make his way as a renegade archer. He finds himself in Soissons, France and in the middle of a massacre. Hiding in a church, he once again hears the mysterious voice and this time acts as it demands. He saves a woman, Melisande, from being raped.Hook and Melisande escape and find they like each other's company. While trying to make their way back to England, he finds himself in the service of King Henry V and part of the plan to conquer France so Henry can rightfully take his place as King of England and France.Cornwell brilliantly describes the workings of a bow and clearly demonstrates the strength needed to harness the full force by the archer. His descriptions, which border on lessons, are worked flawlessly into the story. He is also quite graphic in describing the damage a bow, in the right hands, can do. One note for squeamish readers, you may find yourself passing over a few battle scenes quickly as Cornwell does not leave much to the imagination. This is not a deterrent as these same scenes add an intensity and brutal reality to the work that brings 15th century warfare to life. The story is fast paced with a lot tension thanks to Hook's penchant for attracting trouble and desire to right what he perceives as wrong. All of the drama is neatly resolved in the end but that doesn't hurt the story. Cornwell is a real storyteller. He put the reader in the middle of the action so they can feel a bowstring being pulled and bones crunching beneath a sword. It's a great read.
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