Michael Ames's Reviews > Azincourt

Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell
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's review
Dec 09, 2010

really liked it
Read in March, 2010

This is a thrilling, moving, informative and entertaining narrative of the battle of Agincourt (of Shakespeare's Henry V fame). I was completely addicted to the audiobook for days on end. Could not stop listening.

And I simply cannot recommend it to anyone else to read.

Unless, of course, you already live on a diet of blood, gore and profanity, and will therefore not be deeply disturbed by the all-to-real imagery of life and war in the 15th century. I've struggled to understand if the degree of gruesomeness presented in this book was simply gratuitous or if it was necessary to accurately convey the conditions of the time.

I think I've concluded that softening the blows (so to speak) would indeed have reduced some of the book's power. The story is primarily told through the eyes of a single lowly English archer who is possessed of great strength and prowess in battle, but who grows in honor and compassion as the book develops. This growth places him in stark contrast to the crass, cruel world in which he lives and fights.

There are other very appealing characters as well: a tenacious love interest from the enemy side; her brutal, yet oddly caring nobleman father; and Sir John Cornwall, the archer's commander, whose ferocity and acrid leadership is matched only by his unyielding loyalty to his men.

If you lack stomach for vivid descriptions of they myriad ways in which 15th century soldiers slaughtered and avenged themselves on their enemies, read Henry V instead. Or go watch the 1989 movie of the same by Kenneth Branagh, which I haven't seen but my very tasteful wife highly recommends. But if you're not prone to a queasy stomach or bad dreams, this book may be well worth it. It left me feeling unusually grateful to have a 21st century desk job.

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03/22 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Amy Lynn (new)

Amy Lynn I also highly recommend that same movie your very tasteful wife recommends. One of my favorites. And a much better Go Get 'Em speech than any other movie that seems to rip it off (ahem...I'm talking to YOU, Independence Day starring Will Smith and What's-Your-Name).

Alison Stuart The audible narrative was brilliant and the only reason I saw it through to the end. On my daily commute to work I would find myself stopped at traffic lights with my lip curling as yet another person died in some sort of horrific and blood curdling way. If I had been reading it in prose I would have been fast forwarding pretty "god damn" quickly!

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