A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2023
The New York Times bestselling historian makes his historical fiction debut with an explosive novel set during the Hundred Years' War.
July 1346. Ten men land on the beaches of Normandy. They call themselves the Essex Dogs: an unruly platoon of archers and men-at-arms led by a battle-scarred captain whose best days are behind him. The fight for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe has begun.
Heading ever deeper into enemy territory toward Crécy, this band of brothers knows they are off to fight a battle that will forge nations, and shape the very fabric of human lives. But first they must survive a bloody war in which rules are abandoned and chivalry itself is slaughtered.
Rooted in historical accuracy and told through an unforgettable cast, Essex Dogs delivers the stark reality of medieval war on the ground – and shines a light on the fighters and ordinary people caught in the storm.
Journalist and historian Jones (The Plantagenets) makes his fiction debut with a rousing story of the Hundred Years War, the first in a projected trilogy. It's 1346, and veteran trooper Loveday FitzTalbot leads his 10-man mercenary band, the Essex Dogs, onto the beaches at Normandy as part of the English invasion of France. Being on the vanguard of the 15,000-strong invasion force, the Dogs are first into the cities being sacked on the way to conquer Paris. During reprieves from stiff resistance, they loot churches and steal mood-elevating powders from apothecaries. Loveday and his men also find a secondary enemy in a rival warband of East Anglians, whose bloodthirsty men hound them at every turn. Finally, the heavily outnumbered English square off with the French at the battle of Crecy, with Loveday and the surviving Dogs in the thick of it. Vivid characterizations and a strain of black humor add to the pointed drama (at one point, a particularly odious fighter loses his nose on the battlefield, and all those around him are relieved when he finally faints and stops screaming). Brutal, graphic, and gory, the battle scenes viscerally hurl the reader into the heat of 14th-century combat. It's good to know these Dogs will howl again.
This was an amazing book. I think if captures the harsh realities of war in that era. The apparent amount of research impressed me.
The characters were convincingly portrayed and caught my imagination.
Couldn’t get more than 30 pages into this trashy novel.
Sophomoric attempt at an historical novel. This writing is third-rate, at best. If you were looking for anything like the depth and subtlety of a Hillary Mantel work, don’t think twice about buying this book.