Friday, March 16, 2007

BOOK REVIEW - Lords of the North

Lords of the North
Bernard Cornwell
HarperCollins, 2007
317 pages

And now my mad dash through the stack of historical fiction which threatens to overwhelm my night table brings me to Britain in the late 9th century. Lords of the North is the third novel in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories which chronicles the adventures of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the son of a Northumbrian lord. Orphaned at a young age and taken in and raised by a Danish lord, Uhtred rises to become crucial to Alfred the Great’s campaigns to keep Wessex free of the Danish invaders. The previous book, The Pale Horseman, ends with Alfred’s unlikely victory against Guthrum’s army of Danes and Lords of the North picks up with Uhtred leaving Wessex and heading north to lay claim to his father’s fortress in Bebbanburg, the current site of Bamburgh Castle. As with any other good adventure things go awry and Uhtred is distracted from his goal by the presence of enemies and yet another semi-helpless king, this time Guthred of Northumbria.

Overall Cornwell delivers another yeoman’s effort in this book, a sturdy and enjoyable read to be sure, but nothing that blew me out of the water. I am certain that part of this stems more from the frustration/elation I felt upon reaching the end of the novel and discovering that there is more to come. On the one hand I am tired of getting involved in series which are still being written as it makes the wait agonizing and, due to my consumption of media and poor memory, it can be a chore to buy a book a year later and pick up where I left off. Pity me. Pity me. Having said that, I am certainly looking forward to the next book in this series.

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