Wednesday 26 June 2024

Book Review: Henry V by Dan Jones (Non-Fiction/History)

Henry V
Dan Jones
Head of Zeus - Apollo
12 September 2024
eBook - EPUB
ARC via NetGalley

Henry V reigned over England for only nine years and four months, and died at the age of just 35, but he looms over the landscape of the late Middle Ages and beyond. The victor of Agincourt was remembered as the acme of kingship, a model to be closely imitated by his successors. William Shakespeare deployed Henry V as a study in youthful folly redirected to sober statesmanship. In the dark days of World War II, Henry's victories in France were presented by British filmmakers as exemplars for a people existentially threatened by Nazism. Churchill called Henry 'a gleam of splendour in the dark, troubled story of medieval England', while for one modern medievalist, Henry was, quite simply, 'the greatest man who ever ruled England'.

For Dan Jones, Henry is one of the most intriguing characters in all medieval history, but one of the hardest to pin down. He was a hardened, sometimes brutal, warrior, yet he was also creative and artistic, with a bookish temperament. He was a leader who made many mistakes, who misjudged his friends and family members, yet always seemed to triumph when it mattered. As king, he saved a shattered country from economic ruin, put down rebellions and secured England's borders; in foreign diplomacy, he made England a serious player once more. Yet through his conquests in northern France, he sowed the seeds for three generations of calamity at home, in the form of the Wars of the Roses.

Dan Jones's life of Henry V stands out for the generous amount of space it allots to the critical first 26 years of his life before he became king. Both standalone biography and a completion of Dan's sequence of English medieval histories that began with
The Plantagenets and The Hollow Crown, Henry V is a thrilling and unmissable life of England's greatest king from our best-selling medieval historian.


Dan Jones' biography of Henry V was a delightful read that offered a nuanced and balanced portrayal of the monarch, highlighting both the good points of his reign and personality and the bad. It was packed full of detail but, like all Jones' other books, was still an accessible and easy read that didn't feel like a slog to get through. If you are a history fan, this book is one I would highly recommend, especially if you have already enjoyed The Plantagenets and The Hollow Crown. I am giving it 4.5 stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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