Letters I Haven't Written Yet

1356 – Bernard Cornwell

To read books by Cornwell, you have to love medieval England and medieval warfare – and more importantly, English archers. So to enjoy this book, you kind of have to be a war obsessed historian, or at least an amateur (ish) one. I am both, so as ever with Cornwell books, I enjoyed this read immensely. Could he have gone on a bit less on how to make a bow from yew, or the difference in the types of arrowheads? Probably. But it really wouldn’t be one of his books if he did. Le Batârd is one of my favourite book characters, and he comes back here for another adventure with some of his old enemies, looking for, as usual, some vital relic that can save one King or another, and thus Christendom. The main characters lacked some depth within the telling of the story itself (although I loved the descriptions of the new ones, particularly the Virgin Night who you couldn’t help but feel sorry for and adore at the same time), because the reader is expected to know them by having read the Hellequin series (which I have, obviously). But these main characters and the search of the relic felt like a secondary plot point to the different battles in 1356 between the English and the French as part of their century long struggle, and was by far, with all of its blood and guts, the most interesting, and important part of this story.

So if you read this book: read it for an understanding of warfare at the time: the politics and the blood and the shit of it all. If that is what you are looking for, you’ll enjoy it immensely. I know I did.

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