I am honoured to be taking part in the wonderful blog tour for the debut fiction of Essex Dogs by the incredible Dan Jones! Firstly, I’d like to thank Aries Fiction/ Head of Zeus for the opportunity to be a part of the tour. And now, let’s get stuck in!
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Aries Fiction/Head of Zeus
Pub date: 15 September 2022
July 1346. The Hundred Years’ War has begun, and King Edward and his lords are on the march through France. But this war belongs to the men on the ground.
Swept up in the bloody chaos, a tight-knit company from Essex must stay alive long enough to see their home again. With sword, axe and longbow, the Essex Dogs will fight, from the landing beaches of Normandy to the bloodsoaked field of Crécy.
There’s Pismire, small enough to infiltrate enemy camps. Scotsman, strong enough to tear down a wall. Millstone, a stonemason who’ll do anything to protect his men. Father, a priest turned devilish by the horrors of war. Romford, a talented young archer on the run from his past. And Loveday FitzTalbot, their battle-scarred captain, who just wants to get his boys home safe.
Some men fight for glory. Others fight for coin. The Essex Dogs? They fight for each other.
I partly hold Dan Jones responsible for my love of history. I first fell in love with the history of the Templars through Dan’s work and have continued to be impressed with his work since.
This being the first in the trilogy and Dan’s debut into historical fiction I couldn’t have been more excited and was not disappointed.
The Essex Dogs are a bunch of what I can only describe as misfits, brought together as brothers in arms to fight, survive and hopefully make some money in the meantime. This time they form part of the force in service to Sir Robert le Straunge and I can see why nobody likes the man!
Each Dog has his own story but it’s not just about them, there’s also people you’d expect to read about in the Hundred Years War such as King Edward, Edward, Prince of Wales and the Earls of Warwick and Northampton.
Dan has brought each of these to life and I couldn’t help but adore the Dogs and the earls. Northampton’s potty mouth and down to earth approach is hilarious, making you laugh out loud whilst his double act with Warwick adds to the humour. It’s not all humorous tho, there’s moments of sadness and trepidation as I continued to read, not wanting to put the book down until I knew how the Dogs fared. There’s also a bit of a mystery linked to a couple of characters, who without spoiling it for anyone I am interested to find out more about.
As for the Dogs I can’t possibly choose a favourite they’re all such ‘real’ characters, with different personalities, choice of weapons, fighting styles, but all with the same aim, stay loyal to each other, despite their varied backgrounds and even language barriers.
Told from the viewpoint of ordinary soldiers, Dan tracks the route of the English army from landing in Normandy through to the epic battle of Crécy and the telling of the story is just as epic! The Dogs repeatedly find themselves in the middle of bloody battles, tasked with difficult missions by the earls and promises of gold for their troubles for putting themselves in danger, sometimes that danger comes from within their own camp. The experience of war as a normal soldier is brought to the forefront, the things they endured, the horrors they saw and the tasks they undertook.
If you don’t like gore, bloodshed and swearing then I’d say steer clear but I absolutely loved it and can’t wait for the next instalment in the trilogy. However, if you’re interested in the experience of everyday soldiers, each with their own reasons for joining the fight then I would highly recommend Essex Dogs.
For a debut this is exceptional but knowing Dan’s nonfiction works as well as his TV appearances I am not surprised how good this is.
If you’re unfamiliar with events Dan gives an overview of what’s fact and fiction to help along with a short reading list and he also explains his reason for choosing to write this as fiction.
Dan Jones is the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of ten non-fiction books, including The Templars, The Colour of Time and Powers and Thrones. He is a renowned writer, broadcaster and journalist, and has for many years wanted to write authentic but action-packed historical fiction. His debut novel, Essex Dogs, is the first in a planned trilogy following the fortunes of ten ordinary soldiers in the early years of the Hundred Years’ War. He lives near London with his family.
For those who want to know a bit more about Dan or follow his frequent funny Tweets you can find him on the below social media.
Facebook: Aries Fiction
I urge everyone to have a look on social media at the amazing window displays across the country for Essex Dogs, it’s brilliant to see if the men represent who you’d imagined yourself when reading the book.