The Lords of the North (2006): Bernard Cornwell

★★★½

The Saxon Stories: Book III

Oh Uhtred. How I’ve missed you. Although it’s now been almost a month since I read this, I can still remember how refreshing I found it. That was during my deadline period where I was desperate for non-work-related reading material but entirely lacked the energy or mental capacity to write any blog posts; so I apologise. As you might remember, I’ve already read the first two novels in Bernard Cornwell’s series about Alfred the Great and the third proved to be just the tonic for some undemanding escapism. There are times, of course, when I want complex characterisation and meaty, intricate plots; and then there are times (largely coinciding with deadlines) when quite frankly I relish reading about someone like Uhtred, whose manifesto is short, simple and to the point: ‘That is my land. That is my woman. I will kill you now.’ Excellent.

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The Pale Horseman (2005): Bernard Cornwell

★★★

The Saxon Stories: Book II

This is the second volume in a series about the Northumbrian ealdorman Uhtred, born a Saxon but raised in captivity among the Danes as the adopted son of Earl Ragnar. The first book, The Last Kingdom, closed with a great battle at Cynuit, at which Uhtred led the Saxon forces to victory against the Danes and killed their leader Ubba Lothbrokson. This second book opens with the aftermath of the battle, as the Saxons once again fragment into their petty factions.

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The Last Kingdom (2004): Bernard Cornwell

★★★½

The Saxon Stories: Book I

On a rather fortuitous trip to the library yesterday, I happened to see this book: the first in a series set in 9th-century Britain, at a time when the struggle between the Saxons and the Danes was at its fiercest. I haven’t read much Bernard Cornwell, despite his enormous popularity – in fact, I think Azincourt is the only book of his that I’ve read, and I can’t remember much about that. However, in the wake of King Hereafter, I thought I’d give this a go. It turned out to be a highly enjoyable read: light, full of action and (though very different from Dunnett) an interesting complement to Thorfinn’s story.

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