Monday, February 23, 2009

Book Review: Agincourt

Agincourt, a novel, written by Bernard Cornwell tells the story of young long bow archer Nicolas Hook, who early on gets into serious trouble in his home town and becomes a wanted man. He is forced to leave England and becomes a mercenary archer in Soissons, France and there survives a horrible massacre and rescues a girl from being raped and killed. He and the girl find their way back to Calais and safety and on the way become lovers. Still wary of what waits for him at home, he accidentally meets up with King Henry V and is inducted into England’s army. He returns to fight in France in Harfleur and then in the historically famous battle of Agincourt.

I am in love with a new author. Why, you may ask? I love the way he portrays his heroes. This is the same Bernard Cornwell that wrote the noted Sharpe Series so he certainly has had practice at it and now he is a master at knowing how to make one love his characters. I fell for Nick Hook immediately. His overly strong right bow arm could not only draw his long bow back to his ear but also can punch through a man or pull a beautiful young woman up into an attic to safety. Then of course he is accurate with that long bow too and can shoot so many arrows so quickly. I don’t think I ever read a book about archers aside from Robin Hood! Mr. Cornwell has obviously done his research well.

Mr. Cornwell portrays the battles very realistically and I find myself eating them up. There is also a bit of romance, but enough imagery to make me hot, and a trace of spirituality – just enough to make the story mystical. It is as if Mr. Cornwell has perfected the recipe for the novel and found the ideal for storytelling. All of it is right here in Agincourt. For me, I felt like a kid again reading this book, as if I was rediscovering how to read. Highly recommended.

Now I have begun Mr. Cornwell’s Viking Quartet called the Saxon Stories: I have read The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman and am currently reading The Lords of the North and have yet to read Sword Song. Basically, these books are about a 10 year old Saxon boy who is the son of an Earl, whose father is killed by Vikings and he is kidnapped and raised as a Viking. Imagine, being a Viking when you were a little kid! What fun that would be! The Saxon Stories tell the historical tale of how King Alfred took back England from the Danes.

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