• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell

Rifleman62

Army.ca Veteran
Subscriber
Donor
Reaction score
29
Points
530
French accuse English of war crimes and exaggeration over Agincourt  http://forums.army.ca/forums/threads/80820.0.html

San Antonio Express News 1 Feb 09

Agincourt By Bernard Cornwell

HarperCollins, $27.99 (US)

Review by: David Hendricks - Express-News Staff Writer

Following two recent historical studies of English King Henry V's improbable military victory on a muddy French farm in 1415, it is not surprising a historical novel would appear to tell the story in a more visual, personable manner.

With "Agincourt," prodigious novelist Bernard Cornwell presents a wonderful fictional version of the English army invasion of France and the subsequent showdown battle. Cornwell, already widely known for his medieval historical novels and his Richard Sharpe series, which follows an English soldier through the Napoleonic wars, picked names off the 1415 rosters of soldiers and invented backgrounds, personalities and interrelationships.

Cornwell blends his characters into the fragrant and coarse Middle Ages civilization and rounds out his story with appropriate timeless themes.
English archer Nicholas Hook is Cornwell's lowborn protagonist in a story balanced with English and French characters. Hook's strength and archer training leads him first to Soissons, France, where the French reconquer the English-occupied town. The atrocities Hook witnesses motivates him as he is recruited into the English army summoned by Henry, who seeks to strengthen his claim to France's throne.

A generation before Joan of Arc, Hook, too, hears "voices" that guide him through his adventures and the heat of battle. He believes his guardian angels are the martyred saints Crispin and Crispinian. The climactic Agincourt battle, as noted by William Shakespeare's play, occurred on the feast day of those saints, Oct. 25, 1415.

Cornwell's narrative vividly tracks the historical plot as Henry's army sails to the mouth of the Seine River and begins a prolonged siege on the walled city of Harfleur. The siege takes longer than expected, and Henry's army is widely infected and weakened with dysentery before it can march inland for the return trip home via Calais, France.

The French confront Henry's small, starving 6,000-member force with about 30,000 men. Cornwell's extended battle narrative articulates the historical explanations of how Henry's outnumbered army resoundingly defeated the French — the muddy battlefield and the tactical use of the English archers vs. the leaderless French forces overweighed by their own armor and weapons.

Cornwell's narrative is grisly at times, and the author displays a flair for inventing colorful and obscene medieval insults.

Cornwell populates the novel with good and evil characters from both sides. Even Henry is not black and white. A humane and grateful leader, Henry also judges harshly, ordering the execution of a soldier wrongly accused of stealing a religious artifact. The unfortunate soldier happens to be Hook's brother, in Cornwell's story.

The ranks of the Christian priests vary from the purely evil — one English priest loves to rape — to the comforting and empathetic.

The extraordinary Agincourt battle continues to fascinate because it stands more for what happened than why it happened. The English continue to draw national identity from it. The Laurence Olivier movie during World War II, based on Shakespeare's play, was government-financed for propaganda purposes.

For a three-dimensional view of the event, readers should devote time to consume three works: Cornwell's novel, Juliet Barker's 2005 history, also titled "Agincourt" and, of course, Shakespeare's history play, "King Henry V."

 

dangerboy

Army.ca Veteran
Subscriber
Mentor
Reaction score
309
Points
910
Just finished this book last month, would recommend it to anyone the likes Bernard Cornwell's writing and if you have never read any of his books this is an excellant novel to start with.
 

Journeyman

Army.ca Legend
Subscriber
Reaction score
461
Points
910
...the author displays a flair for inventing colorful and obscene medieval insults
Well, I'm always seeking to expand my vocabulary......

...as should anyone who's not a mewling maggot-pie dolt of a notty-pated hedgepig  ;D
 

Yrys

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
410
Journeyman said:
a mewling maggot-pie dolt of a notty-pated hedgepig   ;D

"I'm not sure a translator would render the colour of that expression"

A francophone scratching her head

;)

 

Journeyman

Army.ca Legend
Subscriber
Reaction score
461
Points
910
I don't think it translates well into.........well, English, either  ;)
 
Top