Agincourt

Agincourt

by Bernard Cornwell

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

The New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback— the heroic tale of Agincourt.

Bernard Cornwell, the New York Times bestselling “reigning king of historical fiction” (USA Today), tackles his most thrilling, rich, and enthralling subject yet—the heroic tale of Agincourt. The epic battle immortalized by William Shakespeare in his classic Henry V is the background for this breathtaking tale of heroism, love, devotion, and duty from the legendary author of the Richard Sharpe novels and the Saxon Tales. This extraordinary adventure will captivate from page one, proving once again and most powerfully, as author Lee Child attests, that “nobody in the world does this stuff better than Cornwell.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061578908
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/29/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 493
Sales rank: 138,626
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

BERNARD CORNWELL is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales series, which includes The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, and, most recently, The Empty Throne and Warriors of the Storm, and which serves as the basis for the hit television series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.



Walter Lord received his B.A. in history from Princeton University in 1939. After war service in the OSS, he graduated from Yale Law School. His other books include A Night to Remember, Day of Infamy, The Good Years, A Time to Stand, Incredible Victory, The Dawn's Early Light, Lonely Vigil, and The Miracle of Dunkirk. He estimates that for every year of writing, he spends two in research.

Charles Keating has been nominated for both the Tony and Emmy Awards. He has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in Brideshead Revisted and Another World.

Read an Excerpt

Agincourt

Chapter One

The River Aisne swirled slow through a wide valley edged with low wooded hills. It was spring and the new leaves were a startling green. Long weeds swayed in the river where it looped around the city of Soissons.

The city had walls, a cathedral, and a castle. It was a fortress that guarded the Flanders road, which led north from Paris, and now it was held by the enemies of France. The garrison wore the jagged red cross of Burgundy and above the castle flew the gaudy flag of Burgundy's duke, a flag that quartered the royal arms of France with blue and yellow stripes, all of it badged with a rampant lion.

The rampant lion was at war with the lilies of France, and Nicholas Hook understood none of it. "You don't need to understand it," Henry of Calais had told him in London, "on account of it not being your goddam business. It's the goddam French falling out amongst themselves, that's all you need to know, and one side is paying us money to fight, and I hire archers and I send them to kill whoever they're told to kill. Can you shoot?"

"I can shoot."

"We'll see, won't we?"

Nicholas Hook could shoot, and so he was in Soissons, beneath the flag with its stripes, lion, and lilies. He had no idea where Burgundy was, he knew only that it had a duke called John the Fearless, and that the duke was first cousin to the King of France.

"And he's mad, the French king is," Henry of Calais had told Hook in England. "He's mad as a spavined polecat, the stupid bastard thinks he's made of glass. He's frightened that someone will give him a smart tap and he'll break into a thousand pieces. The truth is he's got turnips forbrains, he does, and he's fighting against the duke who isn't mad. He's got brains for brains."

"Why are they fighting?" Hook had asked.

"How in God's name would I know? Or care? What I care about, son, is that the duke's money comes from the bankers. There." He had slapped some silver on the tavern table. Earlier that day Hook had gone to the Spital Fields beyond London's Bishop's Gate and there he had loosed sixteen arrows at a straw-filled sack hanging from a dead tree a hundred and fifty paces away. He had loosed very fast, scarce time for a man to count to five between each shaft, and twelve of his sixteen arrows had slashed into the sack while the other four had just grazed it. "You'll do," Henry of Calais had said grudgingly when he was told of the feat.

The silver went before Hook had left London. He had never been so lonely or so far from his home village and so his coins went on ale, tavern whores, and on a pair of tall boots that fell apart long before he reached Soissons. He had seen the sea for the first time on that journey, and he had scarce believed what he saw, and he still sometimes tried to remember what it looked like. He imagined a lake in his head, only a lake that never ended and was angrier than any water he had ever seen before. He had traveled with twelve other archers and they had been met in Calais by a dozen men-at-arms who wore the livery of Burgundy and Hook remembered thinking they must be English because the yellow lilies on their coats were like those he had seen on the king's men in London, but these men-at-arms spoke a strange tongue that neither Hook nor his companions understood. After that they had walked all the way to Soissons because there was no money to buy the horses that every archer expected to receive from his lord in England. Two horse-drawn carts had accompanied their march, the carts loaded with spare bowstaves and thick, rattling sheaves of arrows.

They were a strange group of archers. Some were old men, a few limped from ancient wounds, and most were drunkards.

"I scrape the barrel," Henry of Calais had told Hook before they had left England, "but you look fresh, boy. So what did you do wrong?"

"Wrong?"

"You're here, aren't you? Are you outlaw?"

Hook nodded. "I think so."

"Think so! You either are or you aren't. So what did you do wrong?"

"I hit a priest."

"You did?" Henry, a stout man with a bitter, closed face and a bald head, had looked interested for a moment, then shrugged. "You want to be careful about the church these days, boy. The black crows are in a burning mood. So is the king. Tough little bastard, our Henry. Have you ever seen him?"

"Once," Hook said.

"See that scar on his face? Took an arrow there, smack in the cheek and it didn't kill him! And ever since he's been convinced that God is his best friend and now he's set on burning God's enemies. Right, tomorrow you're going to help fetch arrows from the Tower, then you'll sail to Calais."

And so Nicholas Hook, outlaw and archer, had traveled to Soissons where he wore the jagged red cross of Burgundy and walked the high city wall. He was part of an English contingent hired by the Duke of Burgundy and commanded by a supercilious man-at-arms named Sir Roger Pallaire. Hook rarely saw Pallaire, taking his orders instead from a centenar named Smithson who spent his time in a tavern called L'Oie, the Goose. "They all hate us," Smithson had greeted his newest troops, "so don't walk the city at night on your own. Not unless you want a knife in your back."

The garrison was Burgundian, but the citizens of Soissons were loyal to their imbecile king, Charles VI of France. Hook, even after three months in the fortress-city, still did not understand why the Burgundians and the French so loathed each other, for they seemed indistinguishable to him. They spoke the same language and, he was told, the Duke of Burgundy was not only the mad king's cousin, but also father-in-law to the French dauphin. "Family quarrel, lad," John Wilkinson told him, "worst kind of quarrel there is."

Agincourt. Copyright © by Bernard Cornwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Agincourt 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 222 reviews.
texasdocRM More than 1 year ago
For me, this book started a little slow at first, as the author establishes the characters and sets up the history of each. But as the story continues and then reaches it's climactic battles, the story really picks up and it involves you, it puts you in the middle of the fight! The author has well researched this era and time, with the fine descriptions of the weapons, the characters, the places, even the clothing! He literally puts you right next to the main character (Hook) and allows you to experience as he experiences his part of the 100 year war. He describes Henry V not as Shakespeare did but as a man, with shortcomings and talents that all men have. You can hear, smell, see the battle and the massacre to come. Great book, Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read most of the books written by Cornwell. This is a great companion to the archer series. One of his very best!
falstaff1962 More than 1 year ago
Let me say straight off that I believe Cornwell is a talented author. His writing flows and moves the reader along at a brisk pace. Agincourt takes us back to one of the most famous battles in English history, one that many readers know nothing about outside of Shakespeare. The one downfall (to me) is that the characters in the story are fairly cookie cutter. Let's see, we have the bluff man of the cloth with a heart of gold, the corrupt priest, the hard fighting commanding officer, the usual assortment of soldier/buddies, a brother who is so good that he is almost saintly, and a couple of one note enemies after the hero. Yep- all there. But to his credit, Cornwell manages to breathe life into each of these characters.The story moves rapidly for a 400+ page book, but it could have been about 50 pages tighter. After the 7th or 8th time of telling us how much the encampment stinks because of dysentary and the 4th or 5th poor soul who gets blown away "in a red mist" by a cannon shot- we get the point. Some tighter editing would have reduced the redundancies and made for an even more thrilling last 100 pages.
stdon More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by Mr. Cornwell. I've felt the writing was ok, nothing spectacular. The main character for me was a little underwhelming side and I didn't get that, can't put it down feeling, that I have had reading historical novels written by other writers. Don't misunderstand, I did like the book and it was a good read and believable but I didn't find myself able to get as "involved" as I have with others of a similar vein.
2ManyBooks_2LittleTime More than 1 year ago
This story follows the real life events of King Henry V at the battle of Agincourt most well known from the Shakespeare play, Henry V. The story is told from the point of view of an archer in Henry's army. It is very well written with excellent characters and as usual for Cornwell, meticulously researched. If you like Bernard Cornwell's books, or if you like historical fiction, this is a must.
UtherFan More than 1 year ago
I only been a Cronwell fan for a few years, but I can't get enough of his books. They are dramatic, they have great charactors and I feel like I'm learning a little quite a bit about medieval times. I would highly recommend this book for any fan of European-based historical fiction.
readtomuchMN More than 1 year ago
This was the first Bernard Cornwell book that I read and will not be the last. I was an easy read that I could not put down. Great book if you like this part of history.
Alana850 More than 1 year ago
This audio book is very well done with the narrator Charles Keating,doing a spectacular job performing the different characters. It is an engrossing historical story which makes one want to get back into the car to continue on (or wherever you are listening). It was a violent time which is experienced and seen by the main character Nick Hook. Agincourt" makes history real, having characters portray their personal feelings and attitudes about what is happening at the time and the author very cleverly uses the significance of the battle date in his storyline. A story of survival and an excellent reflection back into time making the reader realize we face the same human conditions both good and bad no matter what the era.
RdrBK More than 1 year ago
Bernard Cornwell is a brilliant author, and an exceptional storyteller. The plot of the book is fast-paced and the characters well-developed. I highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction, particularly those who enjoy medieval tales. Highly enjoyable, and a compelling story
weyswords More than 1 year ago
This was an engaging tour of adventure, intrigue and personal inter-relationships. It also unveiled some history of a time that is pretty murky for most of us. The book not only opened doors into an arcane period of our history, it gave some interesting insights into how people lived, the relationships between ordinary people and those in charge and included a good picture of the intriques that took place as various would-be leaders jockeyed for power and position. It also delineated the willingness of many, who held land and also the fate of those who lived under their rule in their hands, to follow the shifting winds of power. I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to escape into another time and yet be entertained with a heart-catching story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End so much that I went looking for something similar. Agincourt did not disappoint. I have since went back looking for more by Bernard Cornwell and will be starting another soon.
bookwormMC More than 1 year ago
Cornwell has succeeded admirably in taking on one of the most famous battles in history. His attention to detail brings the era alive in all it's grimness and excitement. Having very much enjoyed his grail quest trilogy, this was a nice trip back to the 100 years war. Another superb effort from the master of historical fiction!
ctgarry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Finished this unabridged audio book, a bloody fictionalization of the very real Battle of Agincourt (in the year 1415). Well done and the reader added a lot in the voice characterizations. This has rekindled an interest of archery of all things. This is a reminder that simple characters, simple motivations, straight-forward conflicts all can be easily woven into engaging narrative. The author makes it effortless.
jamespurcell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
motortmech on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Jthierer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
JeffV on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
ulfhjorr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Agincourt is pretty standard fare from Cornwell, for good and ill. He tells a middling back story with modest character development, but sets it in a fascinating historical context with some smashingly good action. Few writers surpass Cornwell in describing a battle, whether it be Richard Sharpe leading a 'forlorn hope' at Badajoz in the Napoleonic Wars (Sharpe's Company (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series #13) or Lord Uhtred on the 'shield wall' in Saxon days The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Chronicles Series #1). Here he adds the young archer Nicholas Hook at the siege of Harfleur and the battle of Agincourt in 1415. The book checks in at 464 pages, which for my money are about 150 too many. The entire point of the book is to get to the historic battle and he dawdles. As most readers will know, the historic battle of Agincourt saw a small English Army under King Henry V defeat a French army roughly 8 times its size. The English archers played a critical role here and continued the shifting importance from man-at-war to the average figthing-man in battle (a trend started at Crecy in 1346). Agincourt was immortalized by Shakespeare's Henry V (Folger Shakespeare Library). Cornwell does a nice job describing camp life. And the siege at Harfleur is interesting, but it is after all a siege and it is in the nature of sieges to be rather dull, gray endurance contests. The character development is may be even a bit thinner than usual. All that being said I still give the book 3.5 stars for the excellent description of the battle preparation and execution. And after all, the point of the book is the battle and if he takes too long to get there Cornwell still brings the action to the page like few others. I add a bonus half-star for Cornwell's trademark historical note at the end. All historical novels should have such an appendage. Cornwell refers the reader to several books, including the excellent Face of Battle by John Keegan and another Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle That Made England by Juliet Barker that I have not read but that sounds interesting. Recommended for fans of Cornwell and medieval battle.
viking2917 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very well done. Captures the gory details of medieval battle, and more interestingly to me, the characters seem medieval (rather than modern) in their thinking. The voice of Saint Crispin (& Crispinian) in Hook's ear was very nicely done. Cornwell seems fairly scrupulous in terms of historical accuracy with respect to the battle itself, and as well to the living conditions of the time. Somewhat surprisingly the siege of Harfleur takes up a huge chunk of the book, perhaps more than the battle of Agincourt itself (and to be fair real events had similar durations in time, the battle of Agincourt was only a few hours). Particularly enjoyed the rendering of the siege of Harfleur and the tunneling operations that were a part of it.Heading off now to re-read the Agincourt section of [The Face of Battle] by Keegan....
DavidGoldsteen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
BruderBane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿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.
bookvampire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Zare on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
mojomomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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!