Series: The Warrior Chronicles,
Published by HarperCollins on October 23rd 2014
Genres: Historical, Fiction
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
The new novel in Bernard Cornwell’s number one bestselling series The Warrior Chronicles, on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. In the battle for power, there can be only one ruler. The ruler of Mercia is dying, leaving no apparent heir. His wife is a born leader, but no woman has ever ruled over an English kingdom. And she is without her greatest warrior and champion, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. An empty throne leaves the kingdom exposed to rival West Saxons and to the Vikings, who are on a bloody rampage once more. A hero is needed, a hero who has been in battle all his life, who can destroy the double threat to Mercia. A hero who will ultimately decide the fate of a nation...
“When a man must choose between nothing and everything he has small choice.”
― Bernard Cornwell, The Empty Throne
The Empty Throne contains the same fast-paced battle scenes, political scheming, and surprising twists as the other seven novels in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories. The Novel picks up a few months after the Uhtred fought Cnut and was grievously wounded during the battle. In this book, Uhtred is still suffering from his injuries and once again has to ride to Aethelflaed’s defense. But this time things are a bit different. Aethelflaed is now becoming known as a fighter in her own right. Her fame is almost greater than her brother the King, and Uhtred must help her retain her lands, wealth, and life in the aftermath of her husband Aethelred’s death.
What I liked the most about this novel is that Uhtred and Aethelflaed’s children have grown up, and are now becoming major players in the events of the story. Aethelflaed thinks her daughter “has a head full of feathers,” but I think she’s clever than she lets on. We don’t see much of this cleverness in this book, though, so this is mostly conjecture on my part. Uhtred’s children, Uhtred and Stiorra, are shown to be very crafty, however. Uhtred is a chip off the old block. He appears to have a woman in every city, but his favorite is “The Widow.” Though he’s taken with her, he knows he must marry to advance his family. Stiorra was very surprising. Quiet and moody, I thought she might have picked up lots of Aethelflaed’s qualities having been raised by her, and I was right. Except, Stiorra reminds me of the young Aethelflaed – Mischievous, clever, and adventurous. She also has her mother Gisela’s bearing, and Uhtred’s love of the “Old Gods.”
Not much politically happened in this book. Aethelred was injured in the same battle as Uhtred, but his wounds were much more severe. As the synopsis states, Aethelred dies, and Uhtred tries to secure the throne for his lover. That’s about it. This problem gets resolved, and then Uhtred & Co. have a skirmish with some Danes (again), someone gains a new spouse, and Uhtred’s (the younger) mystery widow is revealed. We don’t get to see Edward, but only hear about him throughout the book. He was such a likable character, but this novel paints him in a bad light. Now that many of the old characters readers have come to know and love, or hate, have passed on (’tis life!) readers are subjected to meeting lots of new characters. This felt strange so there are some many characters in this world whom have already been developed. Sadly, they sat on the sidelines this time around. I hope they’ll be connected back into the story later on.
I actually loved this book. I just wanted to throw in a gripe about how this novel isn’t the end of the series, but yet another series to leave me waiting for the next installment. Boo! *sighs*
Do I Recommend?
I have loved every book in this series, and The Empty Throne is no exception. I think Uhtred will go down as being one of my all-time favorite lead male characters. He’s still arrogant, self-involved, and mischievous, but grows increasingly wiser with each novel. Now his son, Uhtred, is just like him, and we get a double treat. As much as it sucks to have to wait for another novel in this series, part of me is glad the saga hasn’t ended, because I get to spend more time with them. However, since not much happened in the story overall, I only give this one 4 out of 5 stars.