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Azincourt [Paperback]

Bernard Cornwell
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 25 2009
A unique novel, looking at one the greatest battles, a battle that was a turning point in history, from many points of view, by a master storyteller. Bernard Cornwell has been thinking about this subject for years. He has long wanted to write a book about a single battle, the events that lead up to it, the actual days in the battle and the aftermath from multiple viewpoints. Agincourt, fought on October 25th 1415, on St Crispin's Day, is one of the best known battles, in part through the brilliant depiction of it in Shakespeare's Henry V, in part because it was a brilliant and unexpected English victory and in part because it was the first battle won by the use of the longbow. This was a weapon developed in this form only by the English - parishes were forced to train boys from as young as eight daily - and enabled them to dominate the European battlefields for the rest of the century. Lively historical characters abound on all sides but in Bernard Cornwell's hands the fictional characters, horsemen, archers, nobles, peasants are authentic and vivid, and the hour by hour view of the battle is dramatic and gripping.

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Praise for Azincourt 'If Bernard Cornwell was born to write one book, this is it. No other historical novelist has acquired such a mastery of the minutiae of warfare in centuries past. No one else could hope to take Shakespeare's Henry V, strip it of its rhetoric and tell the unvarnished truth about the Battle of Agincourt' Telegraph 'A runaway success' Guardian 'Nobody in the world does this stuff better than Cornwell -- action set six hundred years ago is a fresh and vital as six days ago, with rough, tough men at war, proving once again that nothing changes -- least of all great storytelling' Lee Child 'An extrordinary and dramatic description of the legendary battle of Agincourt from the number one historical novelist' Hampshire View 'a vivid, breathtaking and meticulously well research account' Paisley Daily Express Praise for Bernard Cornwell and Sword Song: 'This is typical Cornwell, meticulously researched, massive inscope, brilliant in execution' The Sun 'Great action scenes, rich in period detail, are underpinned by a feeling for the passions that shaped the Britain we know today' Sunday Telegraph, Seven Magazine Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation' Daily Mail 'Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched' Observer

From the Back Cover

"The greatest writer of historical adventures today" (Washington Post) tackles his richest, most thrilling subject yet—the heroic tale of Agincourt.

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.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Kindle Edition
I found this book hard to put down and a favourite to reread. The battles are detailed and engrossing with historical accuracies. The character, a common man who is an ace with a longbow, gives a perspective that could not be achieved in a nobleman. We are presented the conflict through the lens of the age's deadliest weapon - an English archer with a longbow.
The romantic storyline is secondary to me, but it presents the protagonist with moral questions and adds a glimpse into the other side's sufferings at his countrymen's hands.
Azincourt is my favourite Cornwall novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Azincourt Jan. 30 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another winner for Bernard Cornwell. He transports you right back to these Medieval times with in depth detail of not only the battle but the way people thought in those times, where life was cheap, unless you were noble, and the Church had so much power.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Narrative July 14 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This book provides a great tale from both the French and English. There are good guys, bad guys and guys somewhere in the middle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 18 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent historical fiction. Interesting the factual background on an American folk hero.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Formulaic Fare July 28 2009
By Prairie Pal TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Bernard Cornwell churns out historical novels as smoothly and effortlessly as a sausage-grinder produces links. Want an easy summer-time read about the Napoleonic Wars? Read his Sharpe series. The American Civil War? The Starbuck Chronicles. Alfred the Great's England? The Lords of the North. Got a hankering for a retelling of the Holy Grail? Cornwell's done that as well as the Arthurian legends. Fancy mysteries set in 18th-century England, or on Caribbean yachts or in the American Revolution? Cornwell's well-oiled story-telling has handled all of those themes.

By now his tricks are becoming a little thread-bare as old tropes are repeated. In a Cornwell novel there will always be a dark hero who does not fit into the polite society of his time: too rough and brutish for the gentlemen but devilishly attractive to the ladies. There will always be a wicked priest though Cornwell often balances this character with the addition of a more amiable clergyman who doesn't take his religion very seriously. There is always a maiden to be saved from the clutches of rapists and murderers. Powerful enemies will drive the hero into flight to clear his name or a quest. There will be battles, described with the utmost attention to the gore produced. And so it is with the latest addition to the voluminous Cornwell canon: "Azincourt" based around the 1415 battle of the Hundred Years' War.

Readers of Cornwell will recognize RIchard Sharpe or Thomas of Hookton or Uhtred of Bebbanburg in Nicholas Hook, the archer hero of "Azincourt". They will see Obadiah Hakeswill in Sir Martin and Guy Vexille in the Sire de Lanferelle. Cornwell has been here before and it shows. If you want a lengthy description of a medieval battle with little attention wasted on character or plot, this is the book for you.
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