What can I say? Excellent! I'm a big fan of Bernard Cornwell's work having read Sharpe for years. However in recent years the Sharpe series has become a bit weak with the addition of several pot boiling fillers. The new Saxon series has however taken up the torch with a vengeance. Having already read the first two books in the series last year I was eagerly awaiting this one and I wasn't disappointed.
The story follows Uhtred's journey into Northumbria, his troubled homeland, to confront his usurping uncle and his arch enemies Kjartan and Sven. The action and intrigue is intense and fast paced and Cornwell's historical detail is second to none. His characters are excellently rendered and very believable, he really is the master of the anti-hero (both Sharpe and Uhtred are testament to that). Cornwell does seem to have a serious problem with Christianity at times and it shows strongly in this book with more evil priests and monks than you can shake a battle axe at. I like the way Cornwell blurs the line between good and evil and neither favors at side himself or expects the reader to, not all the Danes are rampaging barbarians and not all the Saxons are honest defenders of the faith. Given the choice between the thunder God, feasting and pillaging and fasting, gruel and celibacy which would you choose?
All in all this is a cracking rip-roaring adventure that will leave your buckle thoroughly swashed. I can't wait for the fourth installment (due in September I think).
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