Essex Dogs

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Pub Date 15 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2022
Head of Zeus, Head of Zeus -- an Aries Book

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The sensational historical fiction debut from Sunday Times bestseller Dan Jones.

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.

Praise for Essex Dogs:

'A new champion has entered the front line of historical fiction to stand shoulder to shoulder with Bernard Cornwell.' Jane Johnson
'Battle-bloody, brutal and perfectly pitched.' Daily Mail
'Vital, earthy, and heart-stopping... So deft and funny that you'd never guess this is Dan Jones' debut work of fiction.' Suzannah Lipscomb
'[Dan Jones'] mastery of his subject matter is obvious. The soldiers' lives are rather brilliantly recreated – the kit, the fighting, the boredom and discomfort.' The Times
'Few books manage to be as compelling on every level as Essex Dogs: it's adventure, history, and heart.' Dana Schwartz
'A busy, urgent little masterpiece.' Graham Hurley
'Fascinating. Brutal. Real... Impossible to put down.' Simon Turney
'Horribly compelling... Only Dan Jones can carry you through blood, piss and vomit and leave you wanting more.' Daisy Dunn
'With a cast of unforgettable characters, written with irrepressible verve and historical accuracy, Dan Jones delivers a compelling novel that thrums with swordswinging energy.' Simon Sebag Montefiore
'The battles that shaped Europe from the point of view of the soldiers... Searing.' Kate Williams
'War. Looting. Junkies. Pintle-tugging. The English abroad. Dan Jones takes you to the year of Our Lord 1346.' Tibor Fischer

The sensational historical fiction debut from Sunday Times bestseller Dan Jones.

July 1346. The Hundred Years' War has begun, and King Edward and his lords are on the march through France. But this...

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ISBN 9781838937911
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

I was lucky to receive an ARC of ‘Essex Dogs’ by Dan Jones from NetGalley, thank you!

King Edward III and his invasion force embark on a killing and pillaging tour of France in 1346.

Among the hell unleashed is a close-knit company of warriors known as ‘Essex Dogs’ who must fight for each other.

I thoroughly enjoyed!

Great characters set in a bloody time and place brought to life.

The locations were vividly word-painted, managing to weave many historical details into the fabric of the story without it ever getting in the way.

The ‘Dogs’ were a great crew of eclectic characters recruited from every corner of Britain. Each have their own secrets, backstories, quirks and skills that fleshed them out into killers with heart and soul instead of mindless machines.

It opens with a medieval ‘Private Ryan’ scene and doesn’t stop from there. It’s a harsh and bloody business and each step of the way was intriguing. I’m not the biggest Kindle fan, but this kept me reading until I finished 😄

As the English army murder, rape and pillage like a black wave destroying everything in its path, the ‘Dogs’, despite their many years of spilling blood and thievery together, feel a little long in the tooth for the events surrounding them and the trouble that comes their way.

The side characters are excellently done and there’s plenty of action to be found, but I was more impressed with how much I cared for the ‘Dogs’, making me eager to read book 2 of this planned trilogy of adventures.


If you enjoy reading Angus Donald, Bernard Cornwell, James Wilde or Robert Low’s ‘Oathsworn Series’ then you’ll dig this 👍

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What a rip roaring, gripping, and fast paced adventure.
I've always enjoyed Dan Jones' history books because of his skill for writing captivating, transporting prose, and those talents are on full display here.
Somewhere between Saving Private Ryan, Henry IV and Band of Brothers - a tour de force and a brilliantly exciting start to a series

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I knew nothing about this book until I scrolled past its incredible cover on NetGalley. Within a few hours I had immersed myself in the Hundred Years War and the story of the Essex Dogs. And what a story it is.

It may seem cliched, but Dan Jones has burst onto the fiction scene like Bernard Cornwell reborn. This tale is gritty and humorous, thoughtful and exciting. All the hallmarks of historical fiction at its best.

I loved the group of men who call themselves the Essex Dogs, and Jones cleverly drops hints about their past into the narrative, a sure way to draw readers back into any future books, with the potential for both sequals and prequals.

One stand out point in this book is the portrayal of Edward, the Black Prince. Hes normally portrayed as an almost mythical figure, a war leader to inspire thousands. Jones, a noted historian in his own right, presents a snivelling whelp of a prince, which was a joy to read.

I cant wait for book 2.

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A wonderful story of a group of freebooters during Edward 111’s invasion of France at the start of the 100 years war. Real and fictional characters and events are all skilfully intertwined with violent battle scenes graphically described. The Black Prince is described not as the heroic character I’ve always assumed him to be but as a whining teenager while the heroes of the piece are the gritty soldiers known as the Essex Dogs. It all builds towards the battle of Crecy at the climax too this stupendous yarn. One hopes that another chapter is too come for these fascinating men.

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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, mace 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.

Dan Jones is one of my top favourite historical authors so “Essex Dogs” was a hugely anticipated release for me. I was delighted to be granted an ARC. This novel is Dans historical fiction debut novel, and is to be part of a trilogy of the same name.

I loved this book - I am already anxious to get my hands on the next book of this series. Dan Jones is an amazing writer, so it’s no surprise that his fiction work is as good as his non fiction work, all of which I’ve read. His character portrayal is fantastic and he just writes history so damn well. Fast paced, thrilling, I literally ate this book up. There really is nothing negative to say about this book. The characters, the setting of a bloody and violent period in time, the atmosphere, the pacing - I cannot fault it. If you are familiar with Dans non fiction work, you will appreciate this book. I’d highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys history, historical fiction and well written books. I’m already Jonesing for book two (see what I did there?).

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an arc in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Dan Brown has written a gripping, fast-moving novel about the invasion of France by Edward III and his son the Black Prince, climaxing in the Battle of Crecy.

The Essex Dogs are a motley selection of disparate soldiers thrown together to fight an overseas war, for a cause that they don't really understand or care about. Their only aim is to survive the campaign, steel & trade war booty along the way, and eventually collect their promised pay. The characters are all well-rounded and have various fascinating personality flaws as well as some caring traits for their comrades in arms.

The battle scenes, as expected, are quite gory and explicit. The language used by the soldiers (including knights) may offend some readers, but I found it added spice and realism to the story. Soldiers throughout the centuries, up to the present day, use barrack-room language with each other. without ever getting offended.

To summarise, I cannot praise this book highly enough and look forward to exploring some of Brown’s other historical novels.

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Amazing book, gripping, well written, amazing characters.

The story is non-stop from start to finish, the interactions between the team are enjoyable.

Read this book!

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Thanks to Head of Zeus and Netgalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this great book.

Set during the Hundred years' War, this first tale of the 'Essex Dogs' involves King Edward III's incursion into 1346, culminating in the battle of Crecy.

It's a great story of visceral battles and violent action, but also of the bonds of comradeship, and the love of brothers.

The book contains lots of very well drawn characters, each of the Dogs is very distinct, but my favourite was the Earl of Northampton, whose creative cursing is a real highlight, and laugh out loud funny.

Easily as good as Bernard Cornwell, a real joy. Can't wait for further adventures.

Five stars from me, highly recommended.

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I find history so fascinating and I adore historical fiction and this one didn't disappoint, you can see how much the author has a passion for history and fantastically fuses together historical realism with fiction. Dan Jones debut into the fictional world brings to life a period in real life history through the lives of well developed fictional characters. I enjoyed seeing the story through the eyes of the Essex Dogs and all the side characters, discovering their backgrounds and their own individualities. You can really sense the brotherliness between the Essex Dogs and that bond is the driving force through this brutally savage journey. The interactions and dialogues are quite engaging, the author doesn't shy away from the odd wisecrack, plenty of potty mouth and evocative bloodshed.
Overall a great introduction to what I believe will be a fantastic trilogy. I can feel myself starting to care for these characters and the plot has me intrigued enough to wish the 2nd instalment was out now! Though I have a feeling that no character is safe and this war will be bloody gory!

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If you like Bernard Cornwall or Patrick O’Brien then you will love this fast paced swashbuckling book.. Dan Jones cannot only write factual history book but factual fiction too. I look forward to his next book.

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Preliminary 5-star review. Will post a full review and adjust the rating accordingly after I finish the book.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-ARC copy of this book, in exchange for this honest review.

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If you like a good historical fiction that actually has the facts right and heaps of characterisation, then this is the book for you.

So, Essex Dogs follows a group of Mercenaries that sign up to Edward III's conquest of France, as he saw it as his land, while the "usurper" French King obviously disagreed. The Dogs are a group of ten people, who have all been pulled together by war, the lust of gold, or just circumstance, and formed a brotherhood led by FitzTolbert, otherwise known as Loveday, and is the main point of view for the book. His is often seen as the wise, older leader, grizzled and suffered but quite likeable from the start. The other main character is Romford, a young lad whose life is moving in all directions, and it seems he has little to no control of.

One of the big things I loved about this book was that it used the modern names for the places the characters are going, and also have been. While I do like books where they use the names of places that were used in the time period, this book just made it easy by using the modern names, so you could see the map in your head perfectly of where they were. Also, the language they used, while some of it make sure you knew it was set in the 1400's, it was still modern enough to not have to worry about understanding what anyone was saying. And the detail of the period was explained with without you needing to have a phd in history.

This book pulls you along through the dirt and dust of travel, into grisly battle that leaves you drenched in mud, and all this is before you process the emotional side of what you are reading. A dagger sharp example of what historical fiction can be, and one that will will in those who think they do not even like the genre.

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I really enjoyed Dan Jones's first excursion into historical fiction. This was taut, well written and, of course, impeccably researched. Loveday and his band of brothers demonstrated that the psyche and behaviour of soldiers remains the same throughout the decades and centuries. This was a rollicking good read and an excellent introduction to what will surely be a series n the Essex Dogs.

I can't wait for the next instalment.

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What a horribly compelling novel….. in a good way!
I love a historical novel and this was a new level. I really enjoyed it. The pure hardship, class discrimination, the dirt, blood and grisly scenes captivate you.
The detail in this novel is amazing and you can feel that a true historian with attention to detail wrote this book, will look out for the second in this amazing trilogy.

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Really gripping read, held my attention all the way through. The sort of book you should read to be able to appreciate how wars were fought in this period. The battle scenes are described so well you feel as though you’ve lived through them yourself, and it really does bring history to life. The Essex Dogs are a motley crew, together through necessity but also a deep bond between them all. The hardships they faced, the squalid conditions they have to put up with and the inequality between the ranks comes over very well. I look forward to the next book I. This series.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Dan Jones' debut novel is an impressive work of historical fiction set in the Hundred Years' War and, more particularly, during the Crecy Campaign. It bears all the hallmarks of the meticulous historical research we have come to expect from this author.

From the off, it's clear that we're in for a breathtaking, violently graphic encounter between the medieval armies of England led by Edward III (as well as the young Black Prince) and France.
Raw, harsh, gritty, fast-paced action continues unabated as the band of mercenaries ransack loot, rape and pillage their way across Normandy to the Somme and the Battle of Crecy.

Jones creates compelling and authentic characters - bloodthirsty, profane soldiers lacking conscience, killing for coin, yet fighting bravely alongside each other. He captures the sights and sounds of knights and men at arms in the fury of battle in blood-soaked, mud-sodden fields and brings the hell of fighting up close and personal.
I am looking forward to the sequel!

My thanks to NetGalley and, as ever, Head of Zeus for granting this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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It's 1346 and King Edward III and his army cross the English Channel and storm the Normandy beaches and then set off on a journey across France to reclaim English territory from the 'false king' Philippe. Dan Jones has written an excellent account of that summer's exploits with an amazing sense of place and time. The main focus is the group of ten men making up the Essex Dogs who we follow through the storiming, pillaging and saacking of whatever towns stood in the way of the King's forces. I could smell and taste the smoke and other more unsavoury aromas that he described. And what a collection of blasphemous oaths and curses. I bet he had fun writing those. Not for the faint hearted but it is such a good read that I can't wait for the next in this planned trilogy. With thanks to NetGalley, Head of Zeus and Dan Brown for a digitial copy of this book to read and review.

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Thank you NetGalley, Head of Zeus, and the author for the eARC!

1346, the beginning of the Hundred Year's War. King Edward III and invasion force have embarked to conquer France.
Among the king's army is a tight-knit company fighting not for conquest but for each other, the 'Essex Dogs'.

I really enjoyed reading this!
I liked the premise, but at the beginning of the book it felt like the writing wasn't going to do it justice. In the scenes where not a whole lot was happening the writing felt kind of weak. But Jones quickly recovers from that and the rest of the book turned out great!

Especially the battle scenes are so well-written you can feel the tension as if you were really there. It's like a medieval version of 'Saving Private Ryan' or 'Band of Brothers'.

The character's themselves are great! Often with historical fiction it's really difficult not to make your characters feel too modern. But Jones finds the perfect balance, keeping the historical accuracy and still making it easy for a modern audience to empathise with them.

If you like Bernard Cornwell, you'll love this!

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If you like Bernard Cornwell,battles and gore this is the book for you. Whilst there is no true leader of The Dogs like in Mr Cornwells books it has a similar sort of vibe.
I cannot wait for the next one

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Brilliant. Couldn’t put it down. I fought with the Essex Dogs and felt everything they were going through. These guys get paid to fight. They stick together and look out for each other. Some of the orders they have to agree to would have me running for the hills.
We are going back in history to the 100 year wars. 1346. King Edward is marching through France and the Essex Dogs are part of the army. What takes they tell.
Fantastic this is number 1 of the trilogy. Can’t wait for number 2.

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I came to this slightly sceptically- being an excellent non-fiction writer is not necessarily a marker for being a good fiction writer, and with a historian there’s the added danger of including ALL the research at expense of plot and character. I need not have worried, this is a great historical novel that feels real, has a well characterised group of soldiers swept up in events outside their control and wears its research lightly. Very much recommended and set up nicely for the second.

By coincidence I’d just finished a slightly older novel - The Scottish Boy by Alex de Campi, set about 10 years earlier. That too is excellent and worth seeking out.

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I do love a book of historical fiction and this book ticks the boxes for me. Although the story of the Essex Dogs is fiction a lot of the facts are taken from historical chronicals..
The Essex Dogs are a group of men who are swords for hire. They are a close and loyal band of men who are part of the army of Edward 111 who travel to France to try to depose the supposed faux king Phillippe.
If you like historical battles this is a great read.

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I’ve read practically all of Dan Jones’ non fiction books and enjoyed them very much so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed this as much. The story follows a gang of men - the Essex dogs - ordinary footsoldiers during the Hundred Years War culminating in the battle at Crecy. Knowing how much research he does plus all the knowledge that he’s written in his non fiction it is a joy to read the action so to,speak. I loved it and I’ll be buying it as presents at Christmas!

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