Essex Dogs (Essex Dogs Trilogy)

Written by Dan Jones
Review by Mike Ashworth

In this novel set during the Hundred Years’ War (July 1346), the “dogs” of the title are a motley band of ten British soldiers, including a mentally unstable priest and a drug addict, as well as a couple of Welsh archers whose skill with the longbow is matched by their lack of respect for authority. They are led by a battle-scarred captain with his best days behind him, driven by the need to keep the group together and bring them all home safely after the campaign in France ends. The story takes them from a beach in Normandy to the battle field of Crécy.

Essex Dogs marks the historical fiction debut for the historian Dan Jones. It is packed with historical insight, bringing alive not only the war, but also the lives of the common soldiers as they struggled to survive not only in combat against the French, but the awful conditions they lived in, following leaders who ranged from experienced commanders who led from the front to incompetent, ignorant and uncaring men to whom the lives of their followers were worth little. The battle scenes are realistic without being overly graphic. This is the first in the trilogy, and I can hardly wait for the next instalment. Will these men survive? Do we care? Too right we do! Recommended.