I am afeard there are few die well that die in battle, for how can they charitably dispose of anything when blood is their argument? – William Shakespeare, Henry V
On the 25th October 1415 two armies met on the field of Agincourt to decide whether King Henry V of England could continue to press his claim against the French crown. His march, from Harfleur to Calais, undoubtedly one to prove the ineffectiveness of the French to stop him may have ended in disaster. Yet when a large French army barred the road to Calais a combination of bad weather and archery stopped his exhausted men from being swept from the field. In one of the most stunning victories in English history Henry V’s outnumbered men overcame their opposition and left the flower of the French nobility upon the field. If you want a deeper insight into the Battle of Agincourt I wrote a pretty in depth series a while back (find the first here).
This book is action from the start. The reader is thrust into the midst of battle following the actions of James Fletcher and his small gang of English and Welsh longbowmen. James, a man that joined Henry’s army to earn enough coin to buy some land, is the protagonist of the story and his only wish is to return home to his young wife alive. After Agincourt he returns home but does not yet have the money to purchase his neighbours land as he received little ransom from the battle and the price of the land has been inflated by the amount of well paid soldiers returning home. So what does he do? Why, he returns to France of course in the service of his King. I assume this to coincide with the revival of the military campaign against France in 1417.
The English march out again. Another desperate battle is fought and prisoners are taken. James’ prisoner, however, is not to be ransomed for political reasons and he is instead given the job of returning the young french noble home in order to receive some payment. It is a job he resents as he wants to return to his pregnant wife but as a lowly archer he has little to no choice. To break his indenture to his Lord would be to throw himself upon his own sword. To tell you much more would ruin the story so I’ll stop.
I picked up the Kindle version of this one for £1.34 and for that price you never know what you’re going to get. I usually steer away from books at this price from authors that I have never read. In this case I was pleasantly surprised by the historically accurate and well written tail contained within its 314 pages. In fact I was so impressed I might just pick up another one of his stories.