the empty throne

Saxton Chronicles #8 by Bernard Cornwell

From Goodreads:

“My name is Uhtred. I am the son of Uhtred, who was the son of Uhtred . . .”

Britain, early tenth century AD: a time of change. There are new raids by the Vikings from Ireland, and turmoil among the Saxons over the leadership of Mercia. A younger generation is taking over.

Æthelred, the ruler of Mercia, is dying, leaving no legitimate heir. The West Saxons want their king, but Uhtred has long supported Athelflaed, sister to King Edward of Wessex and widow of Aethelred. Widely loved and respected, Athelflaed has all the makings of a leader—but could Saxon warriors ever accept a woman as their ruler? The stage is set for rivals to fight for the empty throne.

Uhtred is still suffering from the wounds he received in battle. To recover his strength he needs to find the sword that caused the injury, but lost amid the battle’s blood and mud, how could it be traced and who among the Vikings or Saxons might be holding it?

In the end it is one champion, one hero, who will destroy the new Viking threat to Mercia and ultimately decide the fate of England.

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

This was so much better than the preceeding “A Pagan Lord“. The characters were interesting, the story was snappy and full of detail and the story was well developed. Unlike Pagan Lord the story was kept within a short timeline and despite taking Uhtred to Wales it didn’t aimlessly wander across half of Britain.

Like most of the other books there was plenty of political shenanigans but this time Uhtred was back in the thick of it, manipulating the Saxon Lords and getting his way despite their best efforts.

As usual there are plenty of battles but the details are kept tight with just enough to picture the scene without getting bogged down in unnecessary complexity.

I particularly liked the introduction of the next generation. Uthred’s children, Uhtred and Stiorra, are great characters as is his adopted son Aethelstan. The relationships between them all is excellently described. Using Uhtred jnr to introduce the story was really enjoyable and the scene is set as Uhtred snr is gearing up to train the first King of Englaland.

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