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Agincourt

Cover of Agincourt

Agincourt

A Novel
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"Agincourt is classic Cornwell...[with] attention to historical detail, well-paced action, and descriptive writing that is a pleasure to read."
—Boston Globe

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."

"Agincourt is classic Cornwell...[with] attention to historical detail, well-paced action, and descriptive writing that is a pleasure to read."
—Boston Globe

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."

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Excerpts-
  • 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 for brains, 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...

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 which serves as the basis for the BBC America series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 13, 2008
    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.

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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Agincourt
A Novel
Bernard Cornwell
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