‘Fields of Glory’ is the first book in a trilogy about the hundred years war and focuses on the battle of Crecy in August 1346. In this book Michael Jecks has combined well researched history with some believable (and sometimes likeable) characters to create a book that’s difficult to put down. This was a very successful step away from 20 years of Baldwin and Simon in his Templar series.
The story begins with the English army landing in Normandy, marching for several weeks while trying to engage the French army, before luring them to a battleground of their choice and defeating them. The French army was several times the size of the English army.
Along the way the English army partook in all the activities for which armies were famous at the time. They raped and brutally murdered French civilians, stole anything they could lay their hands on and burnt whole villages. Much of the time they were starving and their shoes and equipment was falling apart. Skirmishes with French fighters were absolutely brutal and often when there were no French around, they fought among themselves. In addition to the soldiers, the army included women (to act as servants and wives) and boys (servants and soldiers in training).
Soldiers were a pretty unpleasant bunch of people, but Jecks has given his main characters a human side with believable backgrounds to show where they have come from and how they have become the people who they are. I became very attached to many of the main characters – Sir John, Berengar, Geoff, Beatrice, Archibold and of course Ed.
There has been some discussion about whether the main character should be Sir John or Berengar. My vote is actually with Ed – the character whose future I want the most for.
I can’t wait for the next two books in the trilogy and hope to see many of the main characters again.
Another excellent book about the battle of Crecy (with great characters) is Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Harlequin/ Archer’s Tale’.
Book Published 2014