Tuesday, March 12, 2013

book review: "Azincourt" by Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell

Azincourt (or Agincourt) is apparently one of the most famous battles in English history, but having no knowledge of the pre-Tudor era I had no idea what to expect. Yet Bernard Cornwell tells us about the famous battle only in the last 1/3 of the novel, instead focusing on the story of English archer Nicholas Hook and how he came to be part of la malheureuse journee ("the unfortunate day") for France on Saint Crispin's Day, 25 October 1415.

Cornwell has Hook hearing the voices of Saint Crispin and Saint Crispinian and guiding him, but I think this was underutilized in the development of his character. I felt no connection with him or any of the characters in the novel because despite the horrors they experienced, they still lacked depth.

Cornwell's descriptions of the siege of the port town of Harfleur and the Battle of Azincourt that followed were well-written. I never realized the strength and the importance of archers in battle. To give one an idea why Azincourt became legendary, here is an illustration of the battlefield (from The New York Times) -

However, I would have appreciated more information about the history of the enmity between England and France, and about the king who brought the Englishmen and Welshmen to war, Henry V.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The 2013 Flips Flipping Pages Reading Diversity Challenge

Here is my reading list for -

(to be updated throughout the year)

as of 02/26/13: 7 of 25

1 Common Book (published 2013)
  • TBA
1 Umberto Eco
  • "The Name of the Rose"
1 Partner Challenge
  • TBA
3 Alternative Media (at least 1 audiobook)
  • "Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe" by Bill Bryson (audiobook)
  • "Blackout" by Connie Willis (ebook) - finished 01/10/13
  • "All Clear" by Connie Willis (ebook) - finished 01/14/13 
1 Foreign Award Winner
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card (Nebula Award for Best Novel 1985, Hugo Award for Best Novel 1986) - finished 02/26/13
1 Self-/Indie-Published Book: Foreign
  • "The Knife of Never Letting Go" by Patrick Ness (Candlewick Press) or
  • "Infernal Devices" by KW Jeter (Angry Robot Books)
1 Self-/Indie-Published Book: Local (Local Title #1)

1 Local Title #2: Non-Fiction
  • "Prehistoric Philippines: Looking Back 6" by Ambeth R. Ocampo 
1 Local Title #3: Award Winner
  • "Smaller and Smaller Circles" by F.H. Batacan (Palanca Grand Prize 1999, National Book Award 2002, Madrigal-Gonzalez Award 2003) - finished 01/21/13
1 Local Title #4: Filipino Dialect
  • "It's a Mens World" by Bebang Siy
1 Foreign Book #1: Asia (except the Philippines)

1 Foreign Book #2: Australia 
  • "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks - finished 01/23/13
1 Foreign Book #3: North America (except USA)
  • "The Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood (Canada)
1 Foreign Book #4: South America 

1 Foreign Book #5: Europe (except England)
  • "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque (Germany)
1 Foreign Book #6: Africa
  • "Secrets from the Sand: My Search for Egypt's Past" by Zahi Hawass (Egypt)
1 Read-Along
  • "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne
1 Poetry
  • "100 selected poems" by e.e. cummings
2 Non-Fiction

2 1001 Books to Read Before You Die
  • "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins - finished 01/09/13 
  • "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo (reread)
1 Graphic Novel
  • "Daytripper" by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon - finished 01/01/13