Young Nicholas Hook is dogged by a curse, 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.
©2009 Bernard Cornwell; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
"The greatest writer of historical adventures today." (Washington Post)
"Nobody in the world does this stuff better than Cornwell. (Lee Child, author of Nothing to Lose)
"Readers who haven't discovered Bernard Cornwell don't know what they are missing....He may well be the best historical novelist writing today -- and Agincourt may well be his best novel yet. (Vince Flynn, author of Extreme Measures)
I have almost unknowingly been looking for a book like this for a long time! I am a fan of Stephen Pressfield's historical fiction books and George RR Martin does a great job mixing fiction and reality into his own realm (phenomenally so); but Cornwell does a great job of making his book, although grounded in history, into a story that puts you there in a way that few other historical fictions ever have managed! I am truly in awe! it is worth a read (or listen... the reader is great by the way)! Highly Recommend!
This is a novel based on historical events, the French-English battle at Agincourt.
Cornwell is a master of historical perspective, and in Agincourt he develops an incredibly believable environment, both physical and political.
The setting and characters remind me somewhat of "Pillars of the Earth", but Agincourt focuses more on battle and has much more action. I was impressed by the depth of knowledge and description of medieval battle and weaponry; it was educational as well as highly entertaining.
Some historical novels tend to bore me, but Agincourt moved along with a great story, characters, and action.
"Agincourt" retells the story of the French defeat at the hands of the English made famous in Shakespeare's "Henry V." The author has extensively researched this historical event, and his retelling of it "feels" authentic. The novel also reworks a few familiar scenes from Shakespeare's play, which should satisfy those who have come to love that story. It is extremely captivating and highly believable. I couldn't put it down. I would, however, offer these caveats. The profanity is extreme and relentless, and some characters are grotesque - to put it mildly. The first hour is especially vile, and the descriptions of war are long and graphic. The excellent reader goes a long way in making the harshness palatable.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
This book has a slightly different appeal than the Sharpe books for which Cornwell is justly famous. Because it is a one off without the support of a long established central character, it is slightly less rich in its biographical texture, but Nick the archer does not lack for complexity and humanity. As always, Cornwell shines in his ability to create the detail, color and emotional reality of a bygone era. Since a good deal of the book is about combat, the realism may be too much for some readers, but it is always aimed at communicating the truth of the moment rather than at its shock value. If you like Patrick O'Brian, you are pretty much a lock to love Cornwell. Exhaustively researched and meticulously recreated both physically and emotionally.
No review of this book would be complete without a bow to the narration which raises it from four to five stars. Brilliant work.
Thoroughly entertaining and well read. The author does a credible job in offering the the reader a notion of military practices and the attendant social conditions surrounding one point in time during the dynastic conflict that was the Hundred Years War. Good fare for an audio book when one is driving or exercising. It keeps one absorbed without demanding too much of the listener. Of particular interest is the review of source material in the epilogue - all good references for the historically inclined...
I don't often read historical fiction, but I will be returning to this genre soon and often in search of a work approaching the caliber of Agincourt. Cornwell does a marvelous job of fully and viscerally plunging you into life in feudal Europe. His attention to details, from the way longbows and arrows are fashioned to the unimaginable brutality of combat, makes the story utterly gripping. The reader gives an impassioned performance in his depiction of Cornwell's words. This one will really stay with you.
Excellent story in a great historical setting. I loved the characters and shared the danger. This is the best audible book I've heard this year and will be looking for more of this author's works. The violence is graphic but I think it's good not to gloss over medieval combat. Otherwise, we fall into the danger of both romanticize it and losing the historical authenticity.
I have listened to this story three times over the past year and love it every time!!
The narrator is the so great; all of his voices are spot on. Mr. Keating has the ability to give subtle nuance to different characters; even his female voices sound right, somehow.
But the story is a terrific mix of history and battle theory, study on archery, small town boy against the world overcomes all with a bit of romance. I can't fault it - save that I wanted it to be three times longer!
If you are bothered by rough language or gory details, this book might not be for you. If you appreciate a straight-forward, well written, well narrated historical fiction, download away!
This was simply the most amazingly written, perfectly narrated tale I've ever surrendered to. Delicious, funny (the first time we meet Sir John is alone worth the entire purchase price), brutal, and detailed. I simply could not ingest the book fast enough.
I sit here now, basking in the afterglow of a masterful novel. The book is decidedly graphic, but not unnecessarily so: this book entails medieval warfare. In fact, it so captures the horrors of war that it makes me wonder how humanity ever crawled out of the Middle Ages alive.
The characterization in the novel is brilliant. And the characters are completely engaging.
Above all, though, I loved Sir John. Not only is he one of the most humorously written historical figures, but the sheer delight of Charles Keating's characterization is stupendous.
My only regret: you can only hear this "for the first time" once. But I will listen to this again and again in the future.
Simply brilliant. Simply perfect.
I love Bernard Cornwell's mixture of fiction and history - I wish I knew books like these existed when I was a kid taking boring history classes in high school (back in those days, history was always whitewashed - not a lot of detail about the scandals and tribulations of everyday life amongst the ruling classes.. except for Henry the VIII, of course..). These books always make me want to find out more about the battles being fought, as well as the reasons behind them. The description of the weapons - in this case the long bow, and its construction and use is fascinating. Naturally, the military tactics and the overall tragedy of war and its aftermath is well described in understandable terms. The character development is great, and Cornwell always shows the negative as well as the positive aspects of his heroes - nobody is ever perfect... etc, etc... I could go on and on.
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