Henry V

I’ve been thinking about the writers and books that have inspired me. One of the ones that hits me every single time I read it is Henry V, by none other than Shakespeare. And yes, I know it’s a play and not a novel, but once you’re reading it… The words and drama take over and transport you.

Hamlet was a pretty play, so are the comedies. I love seeing the different version of them. But nothing resonates as deeply as Hal’s giant leap into majesty, and the war speeches that come after.

Yes, I said war speeches.

The first time I saw Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, I gasped. That one speech, at the end of the movie, when he’s sure that everyone is going to die but they need to fight anyways and Aaragon (I think that was his name) gets them to do it willingly? To buy a couple of hobbits a few moments to hopefully complete the mission?

Yah. I thought “Shakespeare.”

Henry V did battle with France and was grossly out numbered. The numbers go something like: English Men: 6,000. French Men: 30,000-60,000 (depending on which source you use for historical –i.e. real– numbers).Think about it. 

What kind of genius was he to turn around what should have been a stomping? The French had armor, but not the English. Did you know that if you knock someone over in armor and they land on their back they can’t get up? And if they fall forward into mud (and it was a muddy, dirty battlefield), they’d drown to death? Yup. Armor looks pretty, but has some pretty atrocious drawbacks to it.

But tactics alone couldn’t make scared men and boys follow you into certain death. No, in Shakespeare’s Henry V, it is the Eve of St Crispian’s Day Speech that’s gets them all going. . Google it, or look it up on You Tube. You can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-yZNMWFqvM  (not sure how to do links, but I’m trying!)

As an epic fantasy reader I see shades of this character all over. Not all live up to it, but oh when they do…

It truly is magical.

 

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