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Azincourt [Abridged, Audiobook, CD] [Audio CD]

Bernard Cornwell , Kati Nicholl , Trevor White
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2008

A unique novel, looking at one the greatest battles, a battle that was a turning point in history, from many points of view, by a master storyteller.

Bernard Cornwell has been thinking about this subject for years. He has long wanted to write a book about a single battle, the events that lead up to it, the actual days in the battle and the aftermath from multiple viewpoints.

Azincourt, fought on October 25th 1415, on St Crispin's Day, is one of the best known battles, in part through the brilliant depiction of it in Shakespeare's Henry V, in part because it was a brilliant and unexpected English victory and in part because it was the first battle won by the use of the longbow. This was a weapon developed in this form only by the English - parishes were forced to train boys from as young as eight daily - and enabled them to dominate the European battlefields for the rest of the century.

Lively historical characters abound on all sides but in Bernard Cornwell's hands the fictional characters, horsemen, archers, nobles, peasants are authentic and vivid, and the hour by hour view of the battle is dramatic and gripping.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Abridged edition edition (1 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007221061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007221066
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 14.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 281,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the Alfred series.

Product Description


Praise for Bernard Cornwell and Sword Song:

For HB:
‘This is typical Cornwell, meticulously researched, massive inscope, brilliant in execution’. The Sun

'Great action scenes, rich in period detail, are underpinned by a feeling for the passions that shaped the Britain we know today'. Sunday Telegraph, Seven Magazine

Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation.' Daily Mail

'Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.' Observer


'His best book yet. No one understands the experience of the common soldier better than Bernard Cornwell and in this gripping account of the Agincourt campaign, seen through the eyes of a simple archer, he tears away the gloss of legend to reveal the raw truth of medieval warfare in all its shocking brutality, filth and gore.'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
197 of 202 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventure history at its best 10 Oct 2008
It probably comes as no suprise to anyone who saw Bernard Cornwell's glowing comments on the front of Juliet Barker's excellent history book 'Agincourt', that Cornwell turned his attention Henry V's famous, almost miraculous, victory over the French. The problem is how to make such an extraordinarily well known story - thanks to Shakespeare and numerous histories - seem fresh and exciting. Thankfully, we are in the hands of a master at this sort of thing.

His story of Nick Hook, an English longbowman, does more than simply tick the expected boxes. It successfully puts the victory at Agincourt into perspective both politically and socially. It does so by bringing us firmly into the lives of the people. These people realised as properly medieval men and women. Cornwell scores over so many of his competitors by convincing us that these are not simply modern men in fancy dress. Faith in Christianity, for example, and the battle between the heretical Lollard beliefs, common in England at the time, and the Church are woven into the fabric of the story. It will come as no suprise that the battle scenes are strongly and convincingly portrayed.

I always hesitate before giving a five star review, but this is certainly worth it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell 9 Feb 2009
I bought this book abroad recently while nursing a winter-sports injury and couldn't put it down. It is excellent dramatised history, bringing the reader right into the campaign and battle and the minds of the people who were there. As an ex-soldier I immediately identified with the way he conveys soldiers' thoughts and reactions when they face unpleasant realities. It has sparked a great interest to know more about Agincourt (I have bought Juliet Barker's book on the battle), and about Henry V's real reasons for undertaking this risky business. Highly recommended.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Convincingly real 13 Oct 2008
The heaps of praise this outstanding novel is getting here (with sales to match, I understand) is thoroughly deserved. I have no wish to repeat the plaudits and plot descriptions already offered, but thought it worth sharing my opinion that this is the best work Bernard Cornwell has produced since his utterly engrossing Arthurian trilogy "The Warlord Chronicles" which appeared well over a decade ago.

What made those three books so captivating was the reimagining of an enchanted legend and the placement of that legend into both a historical context and into an atmosphere which seemed convincingly realistic. Plus, of course, an unputdownable narrative momentum, a Cornwell trademark.

Given the greater amount of recorded historical detail available to Cornwell here, a reimagining is less necessary. So, the author focuses on putting the reader right into the heart of the action, the fears, smells, sounds, prejudices, superstitions, heroism and malevolence of an age in which we should all be glad we didn't live. With the exception of the obligatory malevolent monk (Sir Martin, who's complete lack of any single redeeming feature makes him somewhat cartoonish to my mind) all the characters are well fleshed out and their motivations and actions seem believable and authentic.

Finally, the spiritual part of the novel, Nicholas Hook's "relationship" with Saints Crispin and Crispinian, is beautifully handled and makes deft use of a historical coincidence I was unaware of. In fact, Christianity per se is handled very well in this story - given the historical setting, there's simply no avoiding it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another winner 17 July 2009
As always ,lots of action and research into the period. The "blood & guts" aspect very graphic that lingers a little too long in certain passages ,with Bernard's usual repetitive description,hence 4 out of 5 stars.
But the story itself is absolutely gripping,as always. The well researched run up to the battle and the battle itself ,dismiss the Laurence Olivier/Shakespear slant on the battle , which left you feeling that it was a quick hey-ho at the French ,fire your arrows and it was all over.
The main character was very reminiscent of Thomas Hook,Harlequin etc, but if you've got a good template why keep changing ( Sharpe!!)
It just goes to prove that the good Mr Cornwell can swap centuries and still make it good.
Long may he keep writing,because I have always felt cheated that C.S.Forrester didn't live longer and write more books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looked at historically..... 24 Aug 2009
By Friendlycard VINE VOICE
.......the battle of Agincourt is a conundrum - a great victory, or a minor battle over-praised ever since Shakespeare?

This is a fascinating book about an enigmatic battle, for it tells the story of Agincourt (or, as Bernard Cornwell correctly points out, AZincourt) in a very readable way.

Mr Cornwell brings, above all, two great attributes to writing of this sort. First, he understands the motivation of the common soldier in hand-to-hand fighting. This would not work were the battle, say, Jutland or Goose Green, but it works well in the blood, sweat and mud of battles like Azincourt. Second, he has an instinctive, indeed almost uncanny, understanding of the most likely explanations to historical enigmas (to give just one example, the location and development of the battle of Badon, as he recreates it so superbly in 'Excalibur').

As well as describing the battle (and its precursor campaign, from the sack of Soissons via the near-disaster of Harfleur), Cornwell sets the reader a puzzle - why is Azincourt such a famous battle? Amongst English battles, it as well known as Hastings, Trafalgar or Waterloo, but it lacks the strategic significance of any of these.

He rejects the idea that Azincourt was a relatively minor battle magnified into fame by Shakespeare's majestic (but, historically, biased and misleading) account. Rather, Cornwell says, something really important happened here, with Azincourt's significance resting largely on the huge disparities of force, as a massive French army was destroyed but a small (but, dare I say it, 'plucky') English army.

The problem with this thesis, as Cornwell acknowledges, is that the disparity of forces may not have been all that great after all. We simply don't know.
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