Sunday, 24 February 2013
Book Spotlight: The Half-Hanged Man by David Pilling
by David Pilling
"I will send you to meet the Wolf...
In the year 1395 the famous French chronicler, Jean Froissart, comes to England in search of tales of chivalry and warfare to complete his life's work, the Great Chronicle of England, France, Spain and Adjoining Countries. Disappointed by the decayed state of England under Richard II, he visits a tavern inside Eastcheap, where a beggar comes to his table and claims to be Thomas Page, the famous soldier of fortune. Thought to be long-dead, Page was otherwise known as the Half-Hanged Man or The Wolf of Burgundy.
Froissart challenges the beggar to recite a convincing version of Page's life, with money and food as a reward if his tale rings true. So begins a tale that encompasses the Hundred Years War in England and France, the Free Companies as they rampaged throughout Western Christendom, and the deeds and sins of the great mercenary captains of the late 14th century..."
"Meanwhile, Charles de Blois was advancing from the direction of Vannes. Not wishing to be cracked like a nut between their two forces, we quit our quarters and re-formed on a slope on the right bank of the river, where we thumbed our noses and spat insults at Du Guesclin’s troops drawn up below the castle.
Montfort called his captains together. Although he was the titular commander-in-chief, the army was in reality under the direction of Chandos, as the far more experienced and able soldier. He was also a trifle too vain and headstrong, in my view, but I didn’t fret overmuch. Chandos may have been no Hannibal, but he was in a different class to Charles de Blois, whose military career had consisted of losing battles and pretending he had won them.
Chandos strutted like a peacock before the knights and squires of Brittany, just to let them know their lord had delegated command to an Englishman..."
The Half-Hanged Man is available from amazon