Britain, early tenth century AD: a time of change. There are new raids by the Vikings from Ireland and turmoil among the Saxons over the leadership of Mercia. A younger generation is taking over.
Æthelred, the ruler of Mercia, is dying, leaving no legitimate heir. The West Saxons want their king, but Uhtred has long supported Æthelflaed, sister to King Edward of Wessex and widow of Æthelred. Widely loved and respected, Æthelflaed has all the makings of a leader–but could Saxon warriors ever accept a woman as their ruler? The stage is set for rivals to fight for the empty throne.
What I thought
Even though, by now, I know what to expect when I pick up a Bernard Cornwell book, I am STILL constantly finding SO MUCH enjoyment out of these stories. The general framework of the plot may be similar, but Uhtred’s antics never fail to amuse me.
This book’s “version” of Uhtred was one of my favorites, so far. He’s getting older, he’s getting grumpier, but he is like a grizzled, wily old man. His cleverness always surprises me. I also loved seeing him play the father role for young Uhtred and for Stiorra. Speaking of Stiorra, she is becoming a favorite for me. She is definitely 50% Gisela, 50% Uhtred.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: I loved this series to pieces. With this book finished, I’m starting to feel a little sad that we’re almost caught up with the series. From the sounds of it, thought, it doesn’t sound like Cornwell plans on ending the series any time soon. So, for now, I guess at least I have 3 more books to look forward to.
On to book #9…