Updated: Jan 20
Essex Dogs follows the English army in the early part of the 100 years war, as King Edward III invades France. The story is set around one particular band of men – the Essex Dogs.
This is a real character driven story, filled with witty dialogue and broken men. The Dogs are all well rounded creations, all with their own flaws and back stories that the author fleshes out really well. Their leader is ‘Loveday’ FitzTalbot, a man that lost the love of his life, and may see life in the army of a way of deserting his past.
My favourite was Romford, a callow youth with a secret drug habit, doing his best to survive in a world he feels was not built for him. He finds himself squire to a drunken prince, and as the story develops so does their relationship, as the two young men from very different backgrounds find common ground on the battlefield.
The supporting cast are also brilliantly portrayed, especially the Earls of Warwick and Northampton who are superbly brought to life and really add to the enjoyment of the story. And so it is with these men that we endure the harshness of the campaign against the French, who retreat further and further into their own country, as the bedraggled English stumble after them, sacking towns and claiming prizes. It all leads nicely to Crecy, and if you know your history, you’ll know what happens there (and if you don’t, you’ll soon find out)
It is not a particularly fast paced book, but builds sturdy platform from which to launch the next in the series. There is a recurring theme throughout the story, as Loveday and his men occasionally refer to ‘The Captain’, a man that had led them on previous campaigns but now thought dead. Hints at Loveday’s relationship with The Captain are scattered throughout the pages, and at the end we start to see the reason why (won’t spoil it here)
The story ends as you would expect the first in a series to end, with the possibility of a new beginning. One I shall look forward to