Book review: Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell

AzincourtAzincourt by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am late to the Bernard Cornwell fan club (many historical fiction fans have long since discovered him), but I am thrilled to have finally read one of his books, which has been on my to-be-read pile for much too long. “Azincourt” or “Agincourt” (the English name of the battle) describes the march towards this fateful battle that made Henry V’s reputation through the eyes of an archer in Henry V’s army. This is not the rousing, patriotic, lyrical battle of Shakespeare’s play. This is a gritty, violent and bloody description of life and warfare in the trenches. No less eloquent than Shakespeare in its way but with all the romanticism taken out.
“Agincourt” is not only a fascinating book on the battle itself, but the author takes the time and does the research regarding the history and use of the longbow, the weapon that made such a crucial difference not only at Agincourt but in other pivotal battles as well. And while the characters aren’t always likeable, they are realistic and interesting and three dimensional.
For those who think historical fiction is written mainly for women (and it often is), this is a very “male” historical fiction book. The book focuses much less on character and romance (although both exist) and more on battle and action. I enjoyed it immensely.

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