I was amazed how fast I was drawn into this story and onto the side of Nick Hook, the protagonist. That in spite of his first act being being rather heinous.

Hook is an archer and it’s his journey that is used to guide us through the events leading up to and during the legendary battle at Agincourt. It’s a pretty grim tale of a grim time, when life seems to have been both harsh and short, yet undervalued.

As such, the events depicted are both brutal and shocking. From rape and murder to dysentery, the latter having killed more Englishmen than the French.

I’m not sure that the whole side plot about Hook’s long-running feud with the Perrill family adds anything particularly, other ways could have been found to get him to France.

It’s read very well by Damien Goodwin. The only weirdness, at least on the version I listened to, was that it had obviously been converted from a CD version and so it stopped to announce the start and end of a disc every now and again.

If you like historical fiction then this was an interesting read with some well-wrought characters (all of the archer’s names were taken from a list of those that were actually there). Cornwell obviously tries hard for historical accuracy too — there’s very little sign of chivalry — but as even scholars can’t agree on the details no one can say what it was really like.

A good read though, and of a standard you expect from Cornwell.

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Reviewed: 29th June 2016