- Audio CD
- Publisher: HarperAu; Unabridged edition (January 20, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060780967
- ISBN-13: 978-0060780968
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 5.2 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 594 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Agincourt Unabridged CD Audio CD – Audiobook, January 20, 2009
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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.
Historical Notes on Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
The battle of Agincourt (Azincourt was and remains the French spelling) was one of the most remarkable events of medieval Europe, a battle whose reputation far outranked its importance. In the long history of Anglo-French rivalry only Hastings, Waterloo, Trafalgar, and Crécy share Agincourt’s renown. It is arguable that Poitiers was a more significant battle and an even more complete victory, or that Verneuil was just as astonishing a triumph, and it’s certain that Hastings, Blenheim, Victoria, Trafalgar, and Waterloo were more influential on the course of history, yet Agincourt still holds its extraordinary place in English legend. Something quite remarkable happened on 25 October 1415 (Agincourt was fought long before Christendom’s conversion to the new-style calendar, so the modern anniversary should be on 4 November). It was something so remarkable that its fame persists almost six hundred years later.
Agincourt’s fame could just be an accident, a quirk of history reinforced by Shakespeare’s genius, but the evidence suggests it really was a battle that sent a shock wave through Europe. For years afterward the French called 25 October 1415 la malheureuse journée (the unfortunate day). Even after they had expelled the English from France they remembered la malheureuse journée with sadness. It had been a disaster.
Yet it was so nearly a disaster for Henry V and his small, but well-equipped army. That army had sailed from Southampton Water with high hopes, the chief of which was the swift capture of Harfleur, which would be followed by a foray into the French heartland in hope, presumably, of bringing the French to battle. A victory in that battle would demonstrate, at least in the pious Henry’s mind, God’s support of his claim to the French throne, and might even propel him onto that throne. Such hopes were not vain when his army was intact, but the siege of Harfleur took much longer than expected and Henry’s army was almost ruined by dysentery.
The tale of the siege in the novel is, by and large, accurate, though I did take one great liberty, which was to sink a mineshaft opposite the Leure Gate. There was no such shaft, the ground would not allow it, and all the real mines were dug by the Duke of Clarence’s forces that were assailing the eastern side of Harfleur. The French counter-mines defeated those diggings, but I wanted to give a flavor, however inadequately, of the horrors men faced in fighting beneath the earth. The defense of Harfleur was magnificent, for which much of the praise must go to Raoul de Gaucourt, one of the garrison’s leaders. His defiance, and the long days of the siege, gave the French a chance to raise a much larger army than any they might have fielded against Henry if the siege had ended, say, in early September.
Maps of the Battlefield (Click to Enlarge)
|England and France, 1415:|
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.
|The French Coast: |
The British campaign, which started at Harfleur, ended more than two months later on 25 October at Agincourt.
Henry's army landed in northern France on 13 August 1415 and besieged the port of Harfleur.
|The Battle Lines:|
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.” – William Shakespeare, Henry V
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
A literary veteran of the Napoleonic Wars and the U.S. Civil War, Cornwell returns to the Hundred Years War era in this action-packed if slightly melodramatic epic about King Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Nicholas Hook, an English forester, is on the run after interfering with a rapist priest and ends up a mercenary defender at Soissons, where he saves a young and beautiful novitiate, Melisande. With his French prize in tow, he returns to England and signs on with Henry's army as an archer. Back on French soil, he fights and slogs his way to Agincourt, where 6,000 Englishmen confront 30,000 French soldiers. Hearing the voice of St. Crispinian whispering to him in times of personal crisis, Hook has his hands full with the French and defending himself from the vengeance-seeking rapist priest and Melisande's father. The crisply rendered battle scenes are adrenaline rushes of blood, thunder and clashing swords that transport the reader back to the early 15th century. Unfortunately, Hook's Hollywood-ready construction undercuts the you are there feeling of Cornwell's otherwise vivid recreation of Henry V's greatest military triumph. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Of course, the writing is biased. We are encouraged to believe the English are in the right and everything works out in the end.
The book gives us a number of memorable characters. First Nick and Melisande. They begin as fellow escapees of the massacre at Soissons, and later wed. Then, the other characters such as Melisande's father, the Sire de Lanferelle (and a fierce fighter in battle who looks forward to dispatching Nick in battle while still wishing him well), the equally fierce Sir John Corneweille (leader of the English forces of which Hook was part), Henry V, Hook's brother Michael, Nick's sworn enemies from back home, and so on. The characters are decently drawn and their interactions move the novel along.
The difficult marches, the dysentery laying waste to many of the English during their siege, the terrifying battle at Agincourt where the English forces were outnumbered greatly (historians still debate how much outnumbered they were) and the French forces faced an almost impossible tactical situation. The military part of the novel works well by giving the reader a "soldier's eye view" of matters.
There is a bleak vision expressed throughout many parts of the book but it ends on a bright note. . . . The growing romance of Melisande and Nick adds a human element to the savagery that emerges in various parts of the book. The ending allows Nick to make up to some extent for a failure in protecting a human life at the outset of the volume, so there is a positive ending. . . . The book is pretty well written, too