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Executive Summary Another solid entry in this series Uthred s adventures continue to entertain Full Review I find myself quickly catching up on this series These books always seem to go by so quickly They aren t exactly short, but they tend to be far shorter than many of the doorstopper fantasy books I favor I will say that much like The Last Kingdom, this did feel like part of a book.That isn t to say this book comes to an abrupt ending, but much is left unresolved, and I suspect The Pagan Lord will continue right where things left off here much like The Pale Horseman For the others in between they felt stand alone, and often had a time jump between them.With a title like death of Kings, and a series that is overrun with Kings, you find yourself wondering which of the many Kings shall be meeting an untimely ending, and how many of those at the hands of Uthred s sword.At this point in the series Uthred is an old man in his 40s He s a bit mature and less arrogant, but only a little I continue to enjoy his exploits, and the contrast in his reputation and his actions.Despite being a feared warrior of much renowned, he is a caring and loyal person, often to his own detriment It s these contrasts that make him such a compelling character to read about.This series continues to be a favorite, and it ll be hard to find another historical fiction series that comes close to fill the time once I catch up I m always eager to pick up the next book in this series, but even so with this book Mr Cornwell finds a decent stopping place to end things, but it feels like a pause than an ending Much is left unresolved that I m eager to read about It s a tricky balance in the middle of any series, especially 6 books in You want to leave your reader wanting , but not unsatisfied and Mr Cornwell manages to pull that off once again. Man, how do i love Uthred he is in an interesting age right now , most of the famous warriors if not all of them are already dead at this period of time and he has become a legend feared and envied by all and a target for all the young warriors seeking fame , gold and glory , but Uthred s experience shows itself knowing when to slaughter and when to hold back, when to be bold and when to be cautious helps him in this fantastic novel These books make me wanna go In an England ravaged by Danes, as marvelously and meticulously laid out by Bernard Cornwell in his The Last Kingdom series, an English lord with Danish roots finds himself often at odds with which side to side with Here in book six Death of Kings, the English king who s ruled since the beginning of the series finally kicks the bucket and now the new kid gets to sit in the big boy chairand the new kid is shitting his britches Lord Uhtred to the rescue Lots of little armies move about a well described Medieval English countryside, angling for position and on the verge of attack during a trying time for the country This is the Danes big chance to win it all for themselves and our anti hero Uhtred is tasked with discovering their plans In true Cornwell style, his main character has as many enemies and ill wishers in his own camp as he has actual enemies, so it s a struggle at every turn I gave it four stars, yet Death of Kings wasn t necessarily better than others in the series I just liked it better than most, I think, because it s one of the balanced of Cornwell s books The typical character problems and actual historical stuff blend well together here Nice pacing on the action, too This is a solid bridge to the next book CHARGE A few days ago I was sent the following joke A girl, no better than she should be, goes to the local council to gain some help She has ten sons and when asked their names she says Nathan, Nathan, Nathan, Nathan etc The official asks her Isn t that a bit confusing No , she says It makes my life so much easier I just go out into the street and say Nathan, time for bed or Nathan, time for supper and in they come Simple as that But what happens if you want to speak to one individually Oh that s simple she says I just use their surnames The reason this joke lodged itself in my brain is because i was mid journey through Bernard Cornwell s wonderful telling of the creation of the kingdom of England from the conflicting kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia and Northumbria and I was in the desperately awkward state of attempting to differentiate the varying characters whose names layer over each other and echo back and forth It is extraordinary how many variations of Aethel something can be crammed into a couple of dynasties I was listening to this on Audiobook, brilliantly read by Stephen Perring, but it took me about 5 of the 8 CD s to work out which Aethelflaed was married to which Aethelred who was a cousin or was that brother or maybe arch enemy to Aethelwold who was somehow related to Aethelstan and Aethelrich was in love withoh well i think you get my point.if only they had had surnames.Having said all that I loved this It was exciting, it was brilliantly atmospheric and the stench and sounds and hardness of the 9th Century were, as far as i can imagine, powerfully captured It is the story, told in the first person, of Uhtred, a great warrior who is also the clash of cultures incarnate He is a Dane living in the service of the Saxons, he is a worshipper of the Norse Gods fighting in and for the nascent Christian State of Wessex, he is a man of action seeing war as the only way of bringing a lasting peace crashing his head against men who see the policy of alliance and treaty as the best way forwardoh yes and his mistress is the King s daughter who is married to his cousin.The book begins with the dying Alfred and continues on with the cut and thrust , the treachery and courage and confusion and turmoil that accompanies his young heir Edward s ascent to the throne It is a cleverly written account of an incredibly violent period in british history known as the Dark Ages when the safety and security of the Roman ascendancy had long passed and the harsh moulding of the Norman Conquest or the glory of the Plantagenets was a still a long way in the future.The Saxons are shown living side by side with the history of the long gone Romans Characters live in their long abandoned villas, statues from their temples are seen being bastardized for use in Churches and convents and the ruins are razed to the ground when stone is needed The Saxons are not great preservers of national history then but i supose that is the point when this story runs, there was no national anything At one point Uhtred wondered whether if the Romans had not invaded these islands would we ever have crossed a river The sturdy stone pillars laid across the rivers long ago were still the foundations being used by Dane, Saxon and Mercian to cross to carry out their slaughter or defence or harrying or whatever they chose to call it.The story strides back and forth and up and down the length and breadth of what is now England and there is an enormous canvas upon which Cornwell paints but it is when Uhtred is chasing one of his enemies and he comes to him at his enemies court at Wimborne or then clatters on his horse after him across the roman roads through a little village called Blandford Forum that my heart gave a little leap I cycle and drive through these places, i have gone butterfly spotting on Badbury Rings, I have a had a lovely couple of gentle kayak trips around Christchurch and you are suddenly struck by the depth of history and blood and adventure that lie deep in these unassuming places.The battles rollicked back and forth and their bloody descriptions were gory and violent and frightening Heads caved and hacked and cleaved, arms and necks and thighs were sliced and shattered and groins.oh good griefthe things they did to groins in 9th Century Britain can never have been a good thing I was driving on a number of occasions when Uhtred or some other bloodthirsty warrior opted for the swift end to a fight with a groin lunge and i can tell you it is really difficult to drive with your legs crossed in sympathy This brings me to a couple of downers in the story Firstly, it is told in the first person from the distance of years As a result of this the battles and the times when Uhtred seems down and out and finished through his being captured or surrounded or doing something desperately dangerous were a bit flat not the writing which was excellent but just the fact of his being the breathless relator of his own will i, won t i survive story.yep Uhtred i think you must have done.And secondly verbal anachronisms Cornwell has his heroes and heroines and villains speak in olde worlde speak Speeches are littered with wonderfully beleivable curses about pig shit and whelps and bloodthirsty blah blah blah ing, Uhtred s weaponry is oddly, yet perfectly believably, personalized His dagger is wasp s sting though as that often does the aforementioned groin thing I think that might be a bit of an understatement and his Sword is the wondrous Serpent breath but did Saxons really say things like they only come here when they get their arse kicked in Frankia or other such modern day stuff It might seem petty but he is at pains to attempt to create the Dark Ages in sights and sound and the societal construct but then throws in these jarring notes when Uhtred or one of his men suddenly speaks like a rapper or a surf dude or the ever fragrant Aethelflaed, my list of new cat names grows apace , struts around like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens and spouts off like Germaine Greer, Roseanne Barr and Ellen deGeneres all rolled into one.These seem only small whinges and in some ways they are but they do jar and as a result sometimes work against what is otherwise a wonderfully imagined world I did get thoroughly caught up in the battle for the kingdom of Wessex s survival and Uhtred, verbal glitches aside, is a very believable character He is, by his lights, a man of integrity and loyalty, he recognizes his faults though doesn t seem to want to do anything to address them which somehow makes him attractively honest and he has the great fortune to gather around himself some very quick witted and funny comrades Cornwell creates a hero, definitely, but one who does not always get the best lines This too makes him to me seem normal, human, real. I thought I had run out of steam with Uthred and King Alfred and their wars against the Danes in 9th century England But the BBC America mini series production of The Last Kingdom was so tasty and fabulous, I got hungry for Cornwell s writing again So glad I did This one was so satisfying, up there with the thrills of the first one of the series Uhtred, who was born into Saxon nobility in Northumberland but kidnapped and raised a Dane, continues to serve the Christian king of Wessex He has a modest estate for his service, but little income or honor because of his troublesome heathen ways and antagonism to the church hierarchy that Alfred lets influence his governance The site is on the borderland with ambitious Danish kings under an uneasy truce The unrest is being amplified by the impending death of Alfred, as both Danes and Saxons are jockeying to take territory in the impending power vacuum Uhtred is eager to conquer enemies before they get too strong and wangles a way to reveal their intentions.Of course there are battles aplenty, and Cornwell is masterly as usual in portraying them But the fun lies in Uhtred s mature ways of using craft in outwit the Danes and garnering intelligence to spot the Saxons who are about to betray Alfred by allying with them He is middle aged now and growing philosophical in many ways He keeps a wild young thing for his bed while sneaking time whenever possible with his forbidden love, Athelflaed, the king s daughter She is estranged from her treacherous Saxon husband and is now tucked away by Alfred in a nunnery, neither of which stops Uhtred For a great in depth review of this book, treat yourself to that of Algernon I don t think it necessary to read the books in order, though I am doing so With three to go, I have something to tide me over while waiting for another season of the BBC production We ll see how well he does under Alfred s son Edward as king His battle lieutenants, Alfred s bastard son Osfert and the Irish ex priest Finan, are wonderful new characters in this book that I would like to read about His perpetual goal of recovering his rightful throne at Bebbanburg in Northumbria still lies in the future. Uhtred is back in the sixth installment of the Saxon series King Alfred later known as Alfred the Great to us is dying and is dead partway through the story, leaving the kingdom open to attack from different opponents, especially the Danes But they don t attack right away and this puzzles Uhtred so he goes off exploring into Dane territory as well as seeking the input from a witch Of course, is happening than Uhtred realizes and don t worry because there will be fighting with Danes That said, there isn t as much as in the previous books which was a bit disappointing to me This novel focused a great deal on the politics and may have been a setup for the next novel, I suspect As usual we get the gore, dirt and tense shield walls of the period Cornwell is arguably the best author for military historical fiction so if this period is of any interest to you he s the one to read Because the battles were a bit on the low side I gave this novel a notch down from the previous ones Some of my favorite lines below the grade Note that this is in first person narrative for those skipping the previous five novels Bad idea, by the way.STORY PLOTTING B CHARACTERS DIALOGUE B plus to A minus PERIOD ACTION SCENES B plus OVERALL GRADE B plus WHEN READ January 2012 revised review January 2013 p 15 That made sense, but why would Eohric want the alliance Eohric of East Anglia had been perched on the fence between Christians and pagans, Danes and Saxons, for as long as I could remember, yet ow he want to proclaim his allegiance to the Christian Saxons Because of Cnut Ranulfson, one of the twins explained when I asked the question Alfred was dying and his death would surely bring the pagan swords and hearth fire to Mercia and Wessex And the true faith will be scourged from Britain unless we defend it, the older of the two West Saxon priests said Which is why we beg you to forge the alliance, Willibald said At the Christmas feast, one of the twins addedchokengtitiktitikchokeng 46 He half smiled, showing yellowed teeth I would kill you, Uhtred, he said mildly, and so rid the world of a worthless piece of rat shit, but that pleasure must wait He pulled up his right sleeve to show a splint on his forearm The splint was two slivers of wood bound tight with linen bands I also saw a curious scar on his palm, a pair of slashes that formed a cross Sigured was no coward, but nor was he fool enough to fight me while the broken bone of his sword arm was mending You were fighting women again I asked, nodding at the strange scar He stared at me I thought my insult had gone deep, but he was evidently thinkingchokengtitiktitikchokeng 50 Some had hurled spears first Those spears thumped into our shields, making them unwieldy, but it hardly mattered The leading Danes tripped on the hidden timbers and the men behind pushed the falling men forward I kicked one in the face, feeling my iron reinforced boot crush bone Danes were sprawling at our feet while others tried to get past their fallen comrades to reach our line, and we were killing Two men succeeded in reaching us, despite the smoking barricade, and one of those two fell to Wasp Sting coming up from beneath his shield rim He had been swinging an ax that the man behind me caught on his shield and the Dane was still holding the war ax s shaft as I saw his eyes widen, saw the snarl of his mouth turn to agony as I saw his eyes widen, saw the snarl of his mouth turn to agony as I twisted the blade, ripping it upward, and as Cerdic, beside me, chopped his own ax down The man with the crushed face was holding my ankle and I stabbed at him as the blood spray from Cerdic s ax blinded me The whimpering man at my feet tried to crawl away, but Finan stabbed his sword into his thigh, then stabbed again A Dane had hooked up his ax over the top rim of my shield and hauled it down to expose my body to a spear thrust, but the ax rolled off the circular shield and the spear was deflected upward and I slammed Wasp Sting forward again, felt her bite, twisted her, and Finan was keening his mad Irish song as he added his own blade to the slaughter Keep the shields touching I shouted at my menp 52 Cerdic s ax sliced down through linen, wool, iron, bone, and brainchokengtitiktitikchokeng58 His voice faded He was still embarrassed by the previous night s argument in his hall He had watched one of my own men insult me, and he had prevented me from giving punishment, and the incident lay between us like a burning coal Yet both of us pretended it had not happenedchokengtitiktitikchokeng 93 The noise of the fire was a roar punctured by the cracks of splitting timberschokengtitiktitikchokeng 122 I frowned at him Was your mother straining at the stool when you were born p 286 They re dying I shouted, Now kill all the bastards Cnut was not dead, but his men were dragging him away and in his place came Sigurd Sigurdson, the puppy who had promised to kill me, and he screamed wild eyed as he charged up the ditch, feet flailing for purchase, and I swung my damaged shield outward to give him a target, and like a fool he took it, lunging his sword Fire Dragon hard at my belly, but the shield came back fast, deflecting Fire Dragon between my body and Rollo, and I half turned as I drove Wasp Sting up at this neck He had forgotten his lessons, forgotten to protect himself with his shield, and the short blade went under his chin, up through his mouth, breaking teeth, piercing his skull so hard that I lifted him off the earth for a moment as his blood poured down my hand and inside my mail sleeve, and then I shook him off the blade and swept it backhanded at a Dane, who recoiled, fell, and I let another man kill him because Oscytel was coming, shouting that I was an old man, and the battle joy was in me The joy That madness The gods must feel this way every moment of every day It as if the world slows You see the attacker, you see him shouting, though you hear nothing, and you know what he will do, and all his movements are so slow and yours are so quick, and in that moment you can do no wrong and you will live forever and your name will be blazoned across the heavens in a glory of white fire because you are the god of battle Bernard Cornwell is a prolific author, and usually reliable to deliver a solid historical novel with clearly sketched battle scenes and heroic deeds of valor, yet not all things are created equal and I have come to appreciate some of his stuff than others The Saxon Chronicles are at the top of my preference list, together with his Arthurian epic The Warlord Saga And Death of Kings may be the best of the Saxon books published yet Alfred the Great is on his death bed, his long illness progressing despite fervent prayers from his priests, and his dream of uniting all Saxon kingdoms under one rule is about to die with him Around Wessex, the Danes are gathering their armies and their longboats like vultures around a sick beast The priests that surround Alfred believe peace can be had in exchange for holy relics and long prayers One man knows that only strong arms and hard steel will defend the dream of one Britain Uhtred of Bebbanburg has been the shield and sword of Alfred for many years, yet he has little to show for his victories in battle Impoverished and sidelined by the priests who resent his faith in the Norse Gods and his libertine lifestyle, Uhtred knows that Wessex stands ready to be teared apart from without by the Danes and from withing by competing claimants to the succession of AlfredThere are seasons of our lives when nothing seems to be happening, when no smoke betrays a burned town or homestead and few tears are shed for the newly dead I have learned not to trust those times, because if the world is at peace then it means someone is planning wars The political chess game was not so difficult to follow, although there are many players involved, and my three year break from the series made previous events a little hazy The novel shines in other aspects, like the transition of Uhtred from an impulsive, berserker and bloodthirsty killing machine into a strong leader of men, a tactician and a wily manipulator of information, setting traps for his adversaries and turning their own tricks against them To illustrate the Danes know that people in tenth century Britain were a superstitious lot Uhtred included and they set up and pay a witch to prophesize the doom of Alfred s allies and the victory of their own sideShe was ugliness in human guise, the galdridge, the aglaecwif, Aelfadell After going to the oracle himself and experimenting with shrooms and sex , Uhtred decides to set up his own shrine and have a few Christian virgin maids allegedly promise victory to the Saxons and doom to the Vikings It is a complex game than I m trying to paint here view spoiler and it ends badly hide spoiler Uhtred of Bebbanburg loves nothing than defeating his enemies in battle In his older age he s added something new to his game Deceit Misdirection Manipulation Magic For some reason I thought of Ludda and how he had told me that all magic is making someone think one thing while, in truth, another is happening You make them watch your right hand, lord, he told me once, while your left is picking their purse Reading Uhtred was fun as usual In his 40 s still kicking ass I particularly loved his interactions with some of the minor character s in this book A whole lot went down in Death of Kings Prophecies, goddesses, coronations, alliances, betrayals Blood Swords and shields Lord Uhred is at the center of all this and realizes early on that he has to take control or be swept along with the tide of events.Uhtred now has a bloody reputation So he has enemies Any dane would want to boast in his cups that he killed Uhtred of Bebbanburg Many have tried But destiny is all. Alfred looked dead already Indeed, I might have thought him a corpse if he had not pulled his hand away from Osferth, who was in tears The king s long face was pale as fleece, with sunken eyes, sunken cheeks, and dark shadows His hair had thinned and gone white His gums had pulled back from his remaining teeth, his unshaven chin was stained with spittle, while the hand on the book was mere skin covered bones on which a great ruby shone, the ring too big now for his skeletal finger His breath was shallow, though his voice was remarkably strong Behold the sword of the Saxons, he greeted me image error `DOWNLOAD EPUB ↼ Death of Kings ⇟ The Master Of Historical Fiction Presents The Iconic Story Of King Alfred And The Making Of A Nation As The Ninth Century Wanes, England Appears About To Be Plunged Into Chaos Once For The Viking Raised But Saxon Born Warrior, Uhtred, Whose Life Seems To Shadow The Making Of England, This Presents Him With Difficult Choices King Alfred Is Dying And His Passing Threatens The Island Of Britain To Renewed Warfare Alfred Wants His Son, Edward, To Succeed Him But There Are Other Saxon Claimants To The Throne As Well As Ambitious Pagan Vikings To The North Uhtred S Loyalty And His Vows Were To Alfred, Not To His Son, And Despite His Long Years Of Service To Alfred, He Is Still Not Committed To The Saxon Cause His Own Desire Is To Reclaim His Long Lost Lands And Castle To The North But The Challenge To Him, As The King S Warrior, Is That He Knows That He Will Either Be The Means Of Making Alfred S Dream Of A United And Christian England Come To Pass Or Be Responsible For Condemning It To Oblivion This Novel Is A Dramatic Story Of The Power Of Tribal Commitment And The Terrible Difficulties Of Divided Loyalties This Is The Making Of England Magnificently Brought To Life