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"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.

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 6, 2009
ISBN: 9780061984068
List price: $9.99
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Bernard Cornwell delivers an excellent retelling of Henry V 's fight with the French in the 15th century.read more
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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.read more
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Agincourt, place where disease-stricken and hungry English army managed to defeat mighty French army that had both superiority in numbers and (foot /cavalry) troop quality on their side.Responsible for the English victory were long-bowmen, ordinary folk drafted to war and “despised” by the noblemen because of their lethality (archers were always considered to be “unmanly”, “un-warrior-like” through centuries from ancient Greeks onward). Story is told from the viewpoint of the archer, Nicholas Hook – we follow him from the day he was exiled from his hometown in England and pressed into mercenary service in Soissons only to end up as a part of Henry the Fifths grand army marching to subdue French. Brutal war is about to take place (mind you life in that time was pretty harsh itself and book describes this in great detail).Recommended.read more
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A happy spare time read with likeable characters in what seams a well researched historic environment. Nothing special but quite entertaining.read more
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If you are a fan of Sharpe's Rifle and the historical settings the the author interlaces with the main characters you think if Agincourt an old friend. The novel begins in the English country side and ends in France where the readerfollows the life of an English archer caught up in petty intrigues and great battles.read more
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For the most part, I read historical fiction to learn. This means I must choose my authors carefully and only go for those who do meticulous research and incorporate very little fiction into their works. Bernard Cornwell is such an author. Having read a few of his books before, I knew that he got the facts right and often fictionalized a real person as the main character for his stories. This makes for a terrific vehicle to propel the story as well as an emotional hook.Hook is right. Nick Hook is the main character in Agincourt and the story unfolds around him. He’s an archer (who really did serve with Henry V although of course his particular story is Cornwell’s fiction). Much is made of the English archer in this story. I knew about them…in the sense that I knew they existed, but didn’t understand why so much had been made of them in history. Now I know. It took years to make a proper archer; a lifetime in fact. Not only did one have to be super-hero strong, but accurate and determined. One had to have composure and a surety of self that bordered on arrogance. When those elements came together in one man, it was a menace. When thousands of those men came together it was a slaughter.Medieval warfare was a close and bloody thing, as was all warfare up until the invention of guns, cannon and bombs. At great risk to yourself, you mostly had to get right up on a person to kill him. Bows gave us distance and safety. Crossbows are good for fairly close work, but the longbow gave the English a higher degree of safety than did the French crossbows. In the historical note at the end, the author’s research estimates that an English archer could launch 12 arrows a minute with a high degree of accuracy. 6000 of them could loose 72,000 arrows in a single minute. No wonder the sight is often described as blotting out the sun.Those with weak stomachs will do well to avoid this novel (as a matter of fact, it was reviews warning me of such graphic violence that spurred me to download it in the first place – what the average woman hates, I often enjoy). The battle scenes pull no punches and describe killing blows over and over. It gets a bit wearing, but the technique is good to engage the reader’s emotions. In this day and age it is difficult to imagine such a battle. The hand to hand fighting required great skill and detachment. Ruthlessness and singleness of purpose. I don’t think they make men like that anymore. I think it’s been bred out of us.Another thing that makes it a difficult read, especially for women, is the constant rape that follows fighting. Those are the real victims. It didn’t matter who she was, if she had a vagina, it was violated. If she was lucky, the horde would kill her when they were done. If the scenes had gone on any longer than they did (raping is largely contained to the beginning, when two particular rapes set Hook in motion and give him some purpose), I would have had to skip over them.I liked the story of Hook and Millicent. It rang with some truth and wasn’t overly mushy. Romance was needed in this story to give us a reprieve from the constant suffering and brutality. I liked her character and the fact that she got a little bit of her own back in the end.That was also satisfying; the close villains (meaning, not the French who are the overall enemy of the piece) are drawn very well. The Perrills are the generations-long sworn enemies of the Hooks. They plague Nick throughout the novel and are right bastards. The commentary on the priesthood and church is a bit heavy handed at times, but mostly focused into a single character; Sir Martin Perrill, a priest, certifiable lunatic and a serial rapist. His sons Tom and Richard aren’t any better. The way they are constantly tormenting Hook and announcing their evil intentions is a bit stagey at times, but necessary to give us a rollercoaster to ride. The ups and downs are very effective to grab our emotions and side us solidly with Nick. I did quite like the way he took down the last Perrill.But religion doesn’t get a totally bad rap. The device (other than his valuable skill with the longbow) to keep Nick alive in the face of unlikely odds is the voice of St. Crispinian that whispers in his ear from time to time, giving advice and warnings. Nick is one of the few archers who pray in Soissons, his first French deployment. When the French invade and slaughter every archer they can find, Nick escapes because of St. Crispinian’s advice.King Henry V is also a praying man. He feels that he has the divine right to the English throne as well as the French. I loved Father Christopher’s commentary about how he’s sure that the French priests are telling their men that god is on their side, too. The arrogant religious fervor of these times is galling to the modern atheist. It makes me shake my head at the weakness and stupidity of humanity. The fact that it still occurs today is astonishing. Can’t we evolve dammit!?Overall though, this was a terrific story told well, with lots of action and intrique. It’s bloody and brutal, but I learned a lot and gained some perspective regarding the times.read more
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I'm halfway through this book and find it hard to put down, very interesting story and will keep your interest. I read Cornwell's book on Stonehenge as well, another great historical fiction book. Agincourt took my interest from seeing the Henry VIII film based on Shakespear's work, the movie was fantastic and this book so far is as well. For those into historical fiction, I think you would enjoy this book, it has some interesting information on how the archers lived and applied their craft.read more
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Wonderfully done but that's no surprise. Cornwell is a masterful story-teller and brings to life one of the most momentous battles in British history.read more
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As with all of Bernard Cornwell's books, Agincourt is an exciting adventure. My only complaint with his books is that they are fairly formulaic; same story, different battle. Fortunately for him and us, it is a good story.read more
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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.read more
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Seldom have I read a book that put me more squarely in the middle of the action than this. I swear, at times it seemed that I could see the carnage, smell the fear, hear the screaming, and feel the blows of the poleaxes. It's a rare book that can make your muscles sore from drawing an imaginary longbow, but this one is up to the task. If you are a military history fan and want to get a feeling for what battle truly might have been like, this is the book for you.read more
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 Excellent page turner of a book.

Follows one Nicholas Hook, Archer, from trouble on the Lord's estate to trouble in London to joining the king's army in France. He survives these adventures, and the road leads to Agincourt (the title uses the spelling of the French village, rather than the usual English version).

Sometimes a little contrived - how two particular people happen to meet on a battlefield filled with 25,000 people is perhaps a little far-fetched, but you can forgive him that when it is such a rip-roaring read. Full of great historical detail but it's a good story that rolls along at a good pace too.

One of his best.read more
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Let's face it -- on some level, Cornwell always writes the same book: there's the lower-class, stubborn hero, who's always a gentleman and a warrior. There's a corrupt authority figure (nine times out of ten a churchman), and a slightly paternal ally in a position of authority. Plus history, detailed, violent, and set at a critical point.What's amazing is that this is perfectly satisfying. Cornwell might do one thing, but he's mastered it. If you like military history or historical fiction, he's your man.read more
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Blood and guts and war and fighting galore! I wasn't sure I'd like this, but the close attention to historical detail made it all interesting. The plot-line was a bit pedestrian...poor, but strong and brave Nick Hook works his way up from outlaw to archer. He saves the fair Melisande at the battle of Soissons were she is about to be raped by an Englishman. They escape and fall in love, only to travel back to France the following year to lay siege to Harfleur and then eventually fight the big battle of Agincourt. The fate of Melisande's father is left unresolved, which annoyed me. Melisande is also annoyingly perfect. Read this one for the history!read more
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Cornwell's Agincourt is a one-off novel (not part of series) taking place during Henry V's chevauchee through France in 1415. It follows the fortunes of an archer named Nick Hook, who is plagued by enemies of his family and narrowly escaped a French atrocity at Soissons. Returning to England, he is enlisted in Henry's campaign, which began with the long siege and capture of Harfleur, and then a long trek through northern France as the army made its way toward Calais to evacuate back to England. Henry believed he was on a mission from god, however, and was making a statement claiming he was the rightful heir to the French crown.The French and Burgundians, meanwhile, put together a massive army, intent on crushing the upstart English king once and for all. By most accounts, the army opposing Henry was three to four times the size of sick, depleted English force. The armies met near the town of Agincourt, on a muddy field saturated by rain the night before. The mud bogged down French men-at-arms and cavalry in heavy armor, while the English longbowmen wreaked havoc upon the initial waves. As the body count mounted, the French struggled to get past the wall of corpses, and were defeated in detail. The result was one of those most one-sided and unlikely victories in the history of warfare.The battle took place on the feast day for the saints Crispian and Crispianan, coincidentally the patron saints of Soissons whose aforementioned destruction at the hands of French and English turncoats instigated the campaign. This leads to the only thing I really didn't like about the book -- those two saints would actually "speak" to Hook, saving his life on multiple occasions. I'm not really a fan of incorporating supernatural nonsense into historical novels, so this is a pet peeve more than anything else. Cornwell used a variety of resources for his historical background material, the most important was the book Agincourt by Juliet Barker, a book I read a few years ago and highly recommend.read more
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A good exploration of what it might have been like to have been at Agincourt. The novel follows an English archer, Nicholas Hook, from the sack of Soissons to the siege of Harfleur and the climactic battle at Agincourt. Along the way, Hook falls in love and meets up with lords from both sides, including the King of England. The novel moves along briskly but makes time to really establish all the main actor's characters and motivations. The siege of Harfleur drags a bit, but otherwise the novel is excellent.read more
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Cornwell turns to the now legendary Battle of Agincourt as inspiration and foundation for his novel Azincourt, using the archer, Nick Hook (an actual historical archer who was at Agincourt) as the vehicle for this story. The story itself attempts to illuminate the actual events that led to King Henry V's resounding victory over the French, using a fictional backdrop of Hook's family feud, a damsel in distress, and the guidance of Saints Crispin and Cripinian (who speak to Hook) as the plot arc. On a personal level, I wanted very much to enjoy this story. The subject matter is one I've researched extensively and have found of fascination for decades. I'm afraid, however, my enjoyment was overshadowed by Cornwell's heavy hand illustrating gore, and several technical inaccuracies which, for the average reader, wouldn't be an issue, but for me twanged in the way of a badly-tuned instrument. An entertaining read, but not a memorable one.read more
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Another of the author's excellent historical novels--describing the gore and bloodshed of this famous battle between the overwhelming French army and the much smaller force of Henry V, but which had the famous long bow archers.read more
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Cornwell has done it again. Well researched, captivatingly told, and beautifully spun into a tale of one yeoman archer in king Henry's army.read more
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I have enjoyed this novel. I like the way it is written, enjoy the characters, and feel that it is written for either men or women.read more
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My first time reading something by Bernhard Cornwell. For anyone who enjoys a good middle-ages style of historical fiction this book would be perfect. It had lots of action and decent character development. It turned out to be a real quick and fun read. I will definitely read another Cornwell novel in the future.read more
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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.read more
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"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother" Henry VWhat would you do if you heard voices in your head telling you what to do, would you follow them?Nick Hook does and they lead him on a journey across England and France. He tries to make up for past mistakes, to make ammends and earn redemption in order to deserve a chance at life and at love. His bravery and strength make him the perfect archer in King Henry V's army and lands him at one of the most famous battles of all time- Agincourt!Great read for guys or girls, especially for history buffs and fans of Shakespeare's Henry V like myself. A thrilling read that kept me turning the pages. My only compaint is that I wanted it to go on...read more
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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.read more
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Entertaining story with Cornwell's usual set of believable and interesting characters. Vivid recreation of the upclose and brutal confrontations that constituted combat in medieval times. Very well done integration of the myths and sparse facts of a battle that still stirs the imagination. His reference sources, Long Bow, the Face of Battle and Agincourt by Barker are excellent non fiction looks at the same battle.read more
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Bernard Cornwell is a master of action-adventure historical fiction. His Sharpe series, tracing the exploits of an infantryman through the Napoleonic Wars, is his most well-known work, but represents only about half of his output. Agincourt is one of the most famous battles, and victories, in British history. This event and this author were made for each other and it seems strange that it took so long to bring them together.The wait was worth it. Cornwell manages his narrative in a believable way to take us through the build-up and actual battle. The way men fought is well described and he does not shy away from the brutality of the age while convincingly portraying this as a time, like any other, when people got on with their lives as best they could.Cornwell clearly understands his history and cleverly weaves it into the narrative and action so we never feel we are being lectured.If there is a weakness, Cornwell, like many action writers, draws women sketchily and never quite knows how to bring them into the centre of the action. They end up as little more than plot devices. Having said that, you don’t read a Cornwell novel to get insights into man-woman relationships.read more
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Obviously extremely well researched, this book leaves you not doubting for a moment that Cornwell knows his stuff. It is also written in a very captivating way, albeit revelling a little too much in the blood and guts I thought, with graphic descriptions of torture and killing. But I suppose it was a vicious time, too. As a linguist I naturally wonder whether the anachronism of the modern language takes away from the credibility of the story, but then again if it was written in the language of the time it would be fairly unreadable...read more
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“Agincourt” by Bernard Cornwell is a thoroughly researched engaging historical novel in a similar vein to other adventure novels from Mr. Cornwell. However, “Agincourt” did not capture my enthusiasm and enthrall me like Mr. Cornwell’s other works have in the past. The story felt too much like recipe and although the final battles are quite realistic and detailed, for me they didn’t have the brutal piquant I’ve come to love from Mr. Cornwell.read more
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Agincourt:For years I’ve tried to like Bernard Cornwell. Really. I’ve read some of the Sharp’s series, read Enemy of God, read The Archer’s Tale, Lords of the North, but it’s all like that Grateful Dead thing: You know the words, and you know the tune, but you’ll never know the song. The guy will never go out on a limb. By now Cornwell probably knows so much about the Napoleonic era he could tell you what Wellington had for lunch at Waterloo. He could tell you what size shoe Napoleon wore. He could tell you what size shoe Napoleon’s horse wore. He knows all about his characters, what they ate, what they put on, what they fought with, but don’t expect any surprises. He writes finely-crafted histories with nary a rivet or paving stone out of place, and he never cracks a smile. There’s never the sense that these stories take place in real life. Things happen because the writer needs them to happen. There’s never anything wrong with his novels, but let’s face it, Cornwell could pretty much write whatever the hell he pleased, and his fans would lap it up. But he never swings for the fence. Agincourt, naturally, deals with adventuring in France with England’s Henry the Fifth. This episode was originally written up by Shakespeare, who presented Henry as a misunderstood naughty boy trying to get international clout for old Albion. Cornwell’s version of the tale has Henry as a hardened fighter, mysterious, distant, and completely ego-driven. Henry’s incursion into France might serve as a Don’t Do list for West Pointers. Bad planning, poor replenishment, rudimentary tactics. Although Henry is C-in-C of the mission, we never see much of him. He shows up in the trenches from time to time, then goes back to wherever kings go.To keep the pot boiling though, Cornwell has created Hook, a violence-prone archer with voices in his head. Luckily for those around him, the voices belong to a couple of saintly brothers, Saints Crispin and Crispinian. They shout advice in moments of duress. Sort of like stressed-out angels. True to the tradition of seers throughout history though, Hook’s voices really aren’t much help, come right down to it. Fight, run, the saints don’t get much beyond these elementary shout outs. Any idiot could call their shots. Apart from the ethereal voices, Cornwell doesn’t have much use for religion. Hook’s arch-enemy is a priest. One who goes by the name of “Sir” Martin. Sir Martin’s hobby is raping young women, much like Obahdia in the Sharp books, and about as repentant. The other priests aren’t much better. You might think Cornwell would stretch himself out a little here, with some weird rationalization for the man of the cloth, but no. Don’t worry though, the good stuff is coming.One thing about Cornwell, he’s not shy about letting his people get violent. Finally he gets us onto the field at Agincourt. Then it’s all blood and guts, guts and blood. British and French lads lose vital body fluids and major body parts in the hellacious fighting, which goes on all day. Sir Martin gets his as the fierce battle draws to a close, though. England rules, but in the final end, it’s still the same old story. The most contentious, obnoxious galoot wins the day.read more
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I love Cornwell, so it is no surprise that I also enjoyed this book. I love the vivid battle scenes, the achingly difficult scenarios the characters are put through. The details are intense and so compelling. Great read.read more
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Bernard Cornwell delivers an excellent retelling of Henry V 's fight with the French in the 15th century.
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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.
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Agincourt, place where disease-stricken and hungry English army managed to defeat mighty French army that had both superiority in numbers and (foot /cavalry) troop quality on their side.Responsible for the English victory were long-bowmen, ordinary folk drafted to war and “despised” by the noblemen because of their lethality (archers were always considered to be “unmanly”, “un-warrior-like” through centuries from ancient Greeks onward). Story is told from the viewpoint of the archer, Nicholas Hook – we follow him from the day he was exiled from his hometown in England and pressed into mercenary service in Soissons only to end up as a part of Henry the Fifths grand army marching to subdue French. Brutal war is about to take place (mind you life in that time was pretty harsh itself and book describes this in great detail).Recommended.
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A happy spare time read with likeable characters in what seams a well researched historic environment. Nothing special but quite entertaining.
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If you are a fan of Sharpe's Rifle and the historical settings the the author interlaces with the main characters you think if Agincourt an old friend. The novel begins in the English country side and ends in France where the readerfollows the life of an English archer caught up in petty intrigues and great battles.
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For the most part, I read historical fiction to learn. This means I must choose my authors carefully and only go for those who do meticulous research and incorporate very little fiction into their works. Bernard Cornwell is such an author. Having read a few of his books before, I knew that he got the facts right and often fictionalized a real person as the main character for his stories. This makes for a terrific vehicle to propel the story as well as an emotional hook.Hook is right. Nick Hook is the main character in Agincourt and the story unfolds around him. He’s an archer (who really did serve with Henry V although of course his particular story is Cornwell’s fiction). Much is made of the English archer in this story. I knew about them…in the sense that I knew they existed, but didn’t understand why so much had been made of them in history. Now I know. It took years to make a proper archer; a lifetime in fact. Not only did one have to be super-hero strong, but accurate and determined. One had to have composure and a surety of self that bordered on arrogance. When those elements came together in one man, it was a menace. When thousands of those men came together it was a slaughter.Medieval warfare was a close and bloody thing, as was all warfare up until the invention of guns, cannon and bombs. At great risk to yourself, you mostly had to get right up on a person to kill him. Bows gave us distance and safety. Crossbows are good for fairly close work, but the longbow gave the English a higher degree of safety than did the French crossbows. In the historical note at the end, the author’s research estimates that an English archer could launch 12 arrows a minute with a high degree of accuracy. 6000 of them could loose 72,000 arrows in a single minute. No wonder the sight is often described as blotting out the sun.Those with weak stomachs will do well to avoid this novel (as a matter of fact, it was reviews warning me of such graphic violence that spurred me to download it in the first place – what the average woman hates, I often enjoy). The battle scenes pull no punches and describe killing blows over and over. It gets a bit wearing, but the technique is good to engage the reader’s emotions. In this day and age it is difficult to imagine such a battle. The hand to hand fighting required great skill and detachment. Ruthlessness and singleness of purpose. I don’t think they make men like that anymore. I think it’s been bred out of us.Another thing that makes it a difficult read, especially for women, is the constant rape that follows fighting. Those are the real victims. It didn’t matter who she was, if she had a vagina, it was violated. If she was lucky, the horde would kill her when they were done. If the scenes had gone on any longer than they did (raping is largely contained to the beginning, when two particular rapes set Hook in motion and give him some purpose), I would have had to skip over them.I liked the story of Hook and Millicent. It rang with some truth and wasn’t overly mushy. Romance was needed in this story to give us a reprieve from the constant suffering and brutality. I liked her character and the fact that she got a little bit of her own back in the end.That was also satisfying; the close villains (meaning, not the French who are the overall enemy of the piece) are drawn very well. The Perrills are the generations-long sworn enemies of the Hooks. They plague Nick throughout the novel and are right bastards. The commentary on the priesthood and church is a bit heavy handed at times, but mostly focused into a single character; Sir Martin Perrill, a priest, certifiable lunatic and a serial rapist. His sons Tom and Richard aren’t any better. The way they are constantly tormenting Hook and announcing their evil intentions is a bit stagey at times, but necessary to give us a rollercoaster to ride. The ups and downs are very effective to grab our emotions and side us solidly with Nick. I did quite like the way he took down the last Perrill.But religion doesn’t get a totally bad rap. The device (other than his valuable skill with the longbow) to keep Nick alive in the face of unlikely odds is the voice of St. Crispinian that whispers in his ear from time to time, giving advice and warnings. Nick is one of the few archers who pray in Soissons, his first French deployment. When the French invade and slaughter every archer they can find, Nick escapes because of St. Crispinian’s advice.King Henry V is also a praying man. He feels that he has the divine right to the English throne as well as the French. I loved Father Christopher’s commentary about how he’s sure that the French priests are telling their men that god is on their side, too. The arrogant religious fervor of these times is galling to the modern atheist. It makes me shake my head at the weakness and stupidity of humanity. The fact that it still occurs today is astonishing. Can’t we evolve dammit!?Overall though, this was a terrific story told well, with lots of action and intrique. It’s bloody and brutal, but I learned a lot and gained some perspective regarding the times.
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I'm halfway through this book and find it hard to put down, very interesting story and will keep your interest. I read Cornwell's book on Stonehenge as well, another great historical fiction book. Agincourt took my interest from seeing the Henry VIII film based on Shakespear's work, the movie was fantastic and this book so far is as well. For those into historical fiction, I think you would enjoy this book, it has some interesting information on how the archers lived and applied their craft.
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Wonderfully done but that's no surprise. Cornwell is a masterful story-teller and brings to life one of the most momentous battles in British history.
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As with all of Bernard Cornwell's books, Agincourt is an exciting adventure. My only complaint with his books is that they are fairly formulaic; same story, different battle. Fortunately for him and us, it is a good story.
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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.
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Seldom have I read a book that put me more squarely in the middle of the action than this. I swear, at times it seemed that I could see the carnage, smell the fear, hear the screaming, and feel the blows of the poleaxes. It's a rare book that can make your muscles sore from drawing an imaginary longbow, but this one is up to the task. If you are a military history fan and want to get a feeling for what battle truly might have been like, this is the book for you.
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 Excellent page turner of a book.

Follows one Nicholas Hook, Archer, from trouble on the Lord's estate to trouble in London to joining the king's army in France. He survives these adventures, and the road leads to Agincourt (the title uses the spelling of the French village, rather than the usual English version).

Sometimes a little contrived - how two particular people happen to meet on a battlefield filled with 25,000 people is perhaps a little far-fetched, but you can forgive him that when it is such a rip-roaring read. Full of great historical detail but it's a good story that rolls along at a good pace too.

One of his best.
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Let's face it -- on some level, Cornwell always writes the same book: there's the lower-class, stubborn hero, who's always a gentleman and a warrior. There's a corrupt authority figure (nine times out of ten a churchman), and a slightly paternal ally in a position of authority. Plus history, detailed, violent, and set at a critical point.What's amazing is that this is perfectly satisfying. Cornwell might do one thing, but he's mastered it. If you like military history or historical fiction, he's your man.
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Blood and guts and war and fighting galore! I wasn't sure I'd like this, but the close attention to historical detail made it all interesting. The plot-line was a bit pedestrian...poor, but strong and brave Nick Hook works his way up from outlaw to archer. He saves the fair Melisande at the battle of Soissons were she is about to be raped by an Englishman. They escape and fall in love, only to travel back to France the following year to lay siege to Harfleur and then eventually fight the big battle of Agincourt. The fate of Melisande's father is left unresolved, which annoyed me. Melisande is also annoyingly perfect. Read this one for the history!
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Cornwell's Agincourt is a one-off novel (not part of series) taking place during Henry V's chevauchee through France in 1415. It follows the fortunes of an archer named Nick Hook, who is plagued by enemies of his family and narrowly escaped a French atrocity at Soissons. Returning to England, he is enlisted in Henry's campaign, which began with the long siege and capture of Harfleur, and then a long trek through northern France as the army made its way toward Calais to evacuate back to England. Henry believed he was on a mission from god, however, and was making a statement claiming he was the rightful heir to the French crown.The French and Burgundians, meanwhile, put together a massive army, intent on crushing the upstart English king once and for all. By most accounts, the army opposing Henry was three to four times the size of sick, depleted English force. The armies met near the town of Agincourt, on a muddy field saturated by rain the night before. The mud bogged down French men-at-arms and cavalry in heavy armor, while the English longbowmen wreaked havoc upon the initial waves. As the body count mounted, the French struggled to get past the wall of corpses, and were defeated in detail. The result was one of those most one-sided and unlikely victories in the history of warfare.The battle took place on the feast day for the saints Crispian and Crispianan, coincidentally the patron saints of Soissons whose aforementioned destruction at the hands of French and English turncoats instigated the campaign. This leads to the only thing I really didn't like about the book -- those two saints would actually "speak" to Hook, saving his life on multiple occasions. I'm not really a fan of incorporating supernatural nonsense into historical novels, so this is a pet peeve more than anything else. Cornwell used a variety of resources for his historical background material, the most important was the book Agincourt by Juliet Barker, a book I read a few years ago and highly recommend.
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A good exploration of what it might have been like to have been at Agincourt. The novel follows an English archer, Nicholas Hook, from the sack of Soissons to the siege of Harfleur and the climactic battle at Agincourt. Along the way, Hook falls in love and meets up with lords from both sides, including the King of England. The novel moves along briskly but makes time to really establish all the main actor's characters and motivations. The siege of Harfleur drags a bit, but otherwise the novel is excellent.
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Cornwell turns to the now legendary Battle of Agincourt as inspiration and foundation for his novel Azincourt, using the archer, Nick Hook (an actual historical archer who was at Agincourt) as the vehicle for this story. The story itself attempts to illuminate the actual events that led to King Henry V's resounding victory over the French, using a fictional backdrop of Hook's family feud, a damsel in distress, and the guidance of Saints Crispin and Cripinian (who speak to Hook) as the plot arc. On a personal level, I wanted very much to enjoy this story. The subject matter is one I've researched extensively and have found of fascination for decades. I'm afraid, however, my enjoyment was overshadowed by Cornwell's heavy hand illustrating gore, and several technical inaccuracies which, for the average reader, wouldn't be an issue, but for me twanged in the way of a badly-tuned instrument. An entertaining read, but not a memorable one.
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Another of the author's excellent historical novels--describing the gore and bloodshed of this famous battle between the overwhelming French army and the much smaller force of Henry V, but which had the famous long bow archers.
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Cornwell has done it again. Well researched, captivatingly told, and beautifully spun into a tale of one yeoman archer in king Henry's army.
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I have enjoyed this novel. I like the way it is written, enjoy the characters, and feel that it is written for either men or women.
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My first time reading something by Bernhard Cornwell. For anyone who enjoys a good middle-ages style of historical fiction this book would be perfect. It had lots of action and decent character development. It turned out to be a real quick and fun read. I will definitely read another Cornwell novel in the future.
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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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"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother" Henry VWhat would you do if you heard voices in your head telling you what to do, would you follow them?Nick Hook does and they lead him on a journey across England and France. He tries to make up for past mistakes, to make ammends and earn redemption in order to deserve a chance at life and at love. His bravery and strength make him the perfect archer in King Henry V's army and lands him at one of the most famous battles of all time- Agincourt!Great read for guys or girls, especially for history buffs and fans of Shakespeare's Henry V like myself. A thrilling read that kept me turning the pages. My only compaint is that I wanted it to go on...
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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.
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Entertaining story with Cornwell's usual set of believable and interesting characters. Vivid recreation of the upclose and brutal confrontations that constituted combat in medieval times. Very well done integration of the myths and sparse facts of a battle that still stirs the imagination. His reference sources, Long Bow, the Face of Battle and Agincourt by Barker are excellent non fiction looks at the same battle.
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Bernard Cornwell is a master of action-adventure historical fiction. His Sharpe series, tracing the exploits of an infantryman through the Napoleonic Wars, is his most well-known work, but represents only about half of his output. Agincourt is one of the most famous battles, and victories, in British history. This event and this author were made for each other and it seems strange that it took so long to bring them together.The wait was worth it. Cornwell manages his narrative in a believable way to take us through the build-up and actual battle. The way men fought is well described and he does not shy away from the brutality of the age while convincingly portraying this as a time, like any other, when people got on with their lives as best they could.Cornwell clearly understands his history and cleverly weaves it into the narrative and action so we never feel we are being lectured.If there is a weakness, Cornwell, like many action writers, draws women sketchily and never quite knows how to bring them into the centre of the action. They end up as little more than plot devices. Having said that, you don’t read a Cornwell novel to get insights into man-woman relationships.
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Obviously extremely well researched, this book leaves you not doubting for a moment that Cornwell knows his stuff. It is also written in a very captivating way, albeit revelling a little too much in the blood and guts I thought, with graphic descriptions of torture and killing. But I suppose it was a vicious time, too. As a linguist I naturally wonder whether the anachronism of the modern language takes away from the credibility of the story, but then again if it was written in the language of the time it would be fairly unreadable...
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“Agincourt” by Bernard Cornwell is a thoroughly researched engaging historical novel in a similar vein to other adventure novels from Mr. Cornwell. However, “Agincourt” did not capture my enthusiasm and enthrall me like Mr. Cornwell’s other works have in the past. The story felt too much like recipe and although the final battles are quite realistic and detailed, for me they didn’t have the brutal piquant I’ve come to love from Mr. Cornwell.
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Agincourt:For years I’ve tried to like Bernard Cornwell. Really. I’ve read some of the Sharp’s series, read Enemy of God, read The Archer’s Tale, Lords of the North, but it’s all like that Grateful Dead thing: You know the words, and you know the tune, but you’ll never know the song. The guy will never go out on a limb. By now Cornwell probably knows so much about the Napoleonic era he could tell you what Wellington had for lunch at Waterloo. He could tell you what size shoe Napoleon wore. He could tell you what size shoe Napoleon’s horse wore. He knows all about his characters, what they ate, what they put on, what they fought with, but don’t expect any surprises. He writes finely-crafted histories with nary a rivet or paving stone out of place, and he never cracks a smile. There’s never the sense that these stories take place in real life. Things happen because the writer needs them to happen. There’s never anything wrong with his novels, but let’s face it, Cornwell could pretty much write whatever the hell he pleased, and his fans would lap it up. But he never swings for the fence. Agincourt, naturally, deals with adventuring in France with England’s Henry the Fifth. This episode was originally written up by Shakespeare, who presented Henry as a misunderstood naughty boy trying to get international clout for old Albion. Cornwell’s version of the tale has Henry as a hardened fighter, mysterious, distant, and completely ego-driven. Henry’s incursion into France might serve as a Don’t Do list for West Pointers. Bad planning, poor replenishment, rudimentary tactics. Although Henry is C-in-C of the mission, we never see much of him. He shows up in the trenches from time to time, then goes back to wherever kings go.To keep the pot boiling though, Cornwell has created Hook, a violence-prone archer with voices in his head. Luckily for those around him, the voices belong to a couple of saintly brothers, Saints Crispin and Crispinian. They shout advice in moments of duress. Sort of like stressed-out angels. True to the tradition of seers throughout history though, Hook’s voices really aren’t much help, come right down to it. Fight, run, the saints don’t get much beyond these elementary shout outs. Any idiot could call their shots. Apart from the ethereal voices, Cornwell doesn’t have much use for religion. Hook’s arch-enemy is a priest. One who goes by the name of “Sir” Martin. Sir Martin’s hobby is raping young women, much like Obahdia in the Sharp books, and about as repentant. The other priests aren’t much better. You might think Cornwell would stretch himself out a little here, with some weird rationalization for the man of the cloth, but no. Don’t worry though, the good stuff is coming.One thing about Cornwell, he’s not shy about letting his people get violent. Finally he gets us onto the field at Agincourt. Then it’s all blood and guts, guts and blood. British and French lads lose vital body fluids and major body parts in the hellacious fighting, which goes on all day. Sir Martin gets his as the fierce battle draws to a close, though. England rules, but in the final end, it’s still the same old story. The most contentious, obnoxious galoot wins the day.
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I love Cornwell, so it is no surprise that I also enjoyed this book. I love the vivid battle scenes, the achingly difficult scenarios the characters are put through. The details are intense and so compelling. Great read.
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