Released: 23rd January 2007 (Yeah, it's not the most recent of books but this review had to be done)
Genres: Historical Fiction (Dark Ages), War
Other books by Bernard Cornwell:
The Sharpe novels
The Grail Quest series
The Starbuck Chronicles
From Bernard Cornwell, the undisputed master of historical fiction, hailed as "the direct heir to Patrick O'Brien,"* comes the third volume in the exhilarating Saxon Chronicles: the story of the birth of England as the Saxons struggle to repel the Danish invaders.
The year is 878, and as Lords of the North begins, the Saxons of Wessex, under King Alfred, have defeated the Danes to keep their kingdom free. Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a Northumbrian lord, helped Alfred win that victory, but now he is disgusted by Alfred's lack of generosity. Uhtred flees Wessex, going north to search for his stepsister, who was taken prisoner by Kjartan the Cruel, a Danish lord who lurks in the formidable stronghold of Dunholm.
Uhtred arrives in the north to discover rebellion, chaos, and fear. His only ally is Hild, a West Saxon nun fleeing her calling, and his best hope is his sword, Serpent-Breath, with which he has made a notable reputation as a warrior. He needs other partners if he is to attack Dunholm, and chooses Guthred, a seemingly deluded slave who believes he is a king. Together they cross the Pennines, where fanatical Christians and beleaguered Danes have formed a desperate alliance to confront the terrible Viking lords who rule Northumbria.
Instead of victory Uhtred finds betrayal. But he also discovers love and redemption as he is forced to turn once again to his reluctant ally, Alfred the Great. It is Alfred who sees opportunity in Northumbria's chaos, and Alfred who looses Uhtred and his stepbrother, Ragnar, onto Dunholm, the invincible fortress on its great spur of rock. A breathtaking adventure, Lords of the North is also the story of the creation of England, as the English and Danes fight against each other, but also find common cause and create a common language. In the end they will become one people, but as Uhtred will discover, their union is forged through the white heat of battle.
* The Economist
First off, I'd like to compliment Cornwell on creating a book that's completely accessibly for dufuses like myself who take it out of the library and start reading it before realising it's actually the third in a series. It would explain why I had a slow start to the book, needing to double check things that happened, but didn't tamper with the quality of reading itself.
Gosh, so much happens in this book I can hardly remember where it started! *flicks back to the first couple of pages*
The story starts with our good friend Uhtred (if you read the first two I imagine you'll already be acquainted else, like me, you'll be best buds by the end) complaining about the King of Wessex, Alfred. We discover that he's just fought in the battle of Ethandun (If you've read the first two, unlike me, you'll know all about this already :p) and, as you will be chanting along with him by the end, he is:
"the man who had killed Ubba Lothbrokson beside the sea and who had spilled Svein of the White Horse from his saddle at Ethandun."
DAMN RIGHT YOU ARE, UHTRED!
The story follows Uhtred as he runs away from Wessex, up north, finding a slave man in chains claiming to be the king of Northumbria, supported by a huddle of priests. This is Guthred. And I'm not sure where to even start with him. He's god damn adorable. Being a
Considering I hadn't read the first two in the series, I was completely drowned in this book, my bus journeys becoming adventures across late first century England; across oceans; through battles. God damn it I loved this book! The imagery is so incredibly intense: you see, hear, smell, taste and feel every single thing that happens, causing real-world-numbing sensations. I don't recall ever being so invested in a book before. I've come out still believing I'm a Dane. It's problematic.