I can always escape in well written historical fiction.
‘A knight should remember victories, not shameful disaster.’
In 1346, King Edward III of England is determined to prevail over the French. He’s had earlier victories, but the French have not yet been defeated. Chasing the French, allowing them to enjoin battle on their terms could be fatal. Instead, the English set up camp near Crecy, and wait.
This is a novel about the Battle of Crecy, told from the perspective of one unit of archers (called a vintaine, with twenty men) and their leader, Berenger Fripper. War is brutal and life is tough. Men join (or are forced to join) war for many reasons, and telling the story through the vintaine enables the reader to better appreciate this. Food is scarce, and the conditions are dreadful. But despite this, the archers at Crecy are able to deliver victory to Edward.
‘A horse could help them win victory, but one dead man was merely a corpse.
I remember learning about the events of the Hundred Years War from the perspective of the victors (naturally, they generally write the history) and what the victory meant to England. How that victory was won, the blood and sacrifice didn’t feature in my memory of that learning. Who the men were and the hardships they faced wasn’t part of the picture either. Michael Jecks’s novel bought the battlefield to life for me, enabled me to see the strategic advantage the archers had, and think about the experience of battle from an individual perspective. The members of this particular vintaine may be fictional, but the victory at Crecy was not. If you enjoy fast-paced historical fiction, grounded in fact, and can handle the graphic detail of violence associated with war, you may well enjoy this novel. I did.
This is the first novel in what will be a trilogy (the second ‘Blood on the Sand’ was first published in June 2015). I’ve read ‘Blood on the Sand’, and will now wait patiently for the third instalment.