Series: The Warrior Chronicles,
Published by Harper Collins on October 13th 2009
Genres: War & Military, Historical, Fiction, Action & Adventure
Reading Challenges: 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
The year is 878. Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a Northumbrian lord, has helped the Saxons of Wessex defeat the invading Danes. Now, finally free of his allegiance to the victorious, ungrateful King Alfred, he is heading home to rescue his stepsister, a prisoner of Kjartan the Cruel in the formidable Danish stronghold of Dunholm. Uhtred's best hope is his sword, Serpent-Breath, for his only allies are Hild, a West Saxon nun fleeing her calling, and Guthred, a slave who believes himself king. Rebellion, chaos, fear, and betrayal await them in the north, forcing Uhtred to turn once more, reluctantly, to the liege he formerly served in battle and blood: Alfred the Great.
“Wyrd bið ful aræd”
― Bernard Cornwell, Lords of the North
Author Bernard Cornwell continues to embed amazingly written battle scenes with narrative in the third entry to his Saxon Stories, Lords of the North. Like the last novel, this novel picks up right after (a month later) the events in The Pale Horseman. Uhtred has helped win Alfred’s kingdom back, and is given a paltry reward for his effort. Angry, Uhtred takes Hild with him to Northumbria to seek his revenge against the uncle that usurped his kingdom, and to exact the blood feud against Kjartan, who killed Uhtred’s foster-father, Ragnar. Still cocky and self-assured, Uhtred’s narration adds a bit of humor, wit, and wisdom to the story as a man in his 80’s reflecting back on his youth.
In this novel we meet a new character, Guthred, a likable slave Uhtred meets while traveling through Northumbria that winds up being a king. Like most of Cornwell’s characters, Guthred is more than he seems, which Uhtred discovers in a despicable turn of events. Like in past novels, Uhtred allows his hubris and truly kind nature blind himself to the motives of those around him. Just when he thinks he has Guthred, Alfred, and Beocca pegged, they each do something Uhtred never would have expected.
Lords of the North doesn’t really move the story forward much, but it’s still entertaining. The majority of the novel takes place in Northumbria, and is centered around Uhtred’s bid to reclaim Bebbanburg. In a way it could be considered a filler books since not much happened, but I found the story incredibly enjoyable. Maybe because Alfred wasn’t really featured…
Do I Recommend?
Yes! As I said above, Cornwell really knows how to write battle scenes. I felt like I was in the midst of the action due to his descriptions of people, places and events. Uhtred grew up even more in this novel that took place over 2 (?) years. He began the book at age 21 and ended it at 23 years old. Uhtred has learned humility, as a major event in his life humbles him. I’m hoping it has also caused him to be wiser and more astute in his dealing with others. I’ve given Lords of the North 5 out of 5 stars.