Troutbirder

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Death Of Kings

Death of Kings is the sixth book in the ‘Saxon Chronicles’ series. Perhaps not the best idea to start reading a series at the end but that’s how it happened. I recognized the author, Bernard Cornwell from having read his wonderful historical fiction novel Agincourt. How could I go wrong? Well, I didn’t. This is the story of the land that would one day be England, at the end of the 9th century AD. It is largely occupied by Danish speaking Norsemen except for the recalcitrant Welshmen. . By the tenth century most of the English speaking population had converted to Christianity and King Alfred (remembered now as Alfred the Great), King of Wessex had a dream of uniting the whole of England into one country with one religion and one language. Most of the Danes were pagans, worshiping the Old Norse gods like Odin and Thor, believing that to die with a sword in your hand was the only way to enter Valhalla, home of the gods. The central figure, first person protagonist, is Uhtred of Babbanburg, Alfred’s champion and chief war leader; this, in spite of the fact he was brought up by the Danes, is pagan himself, much to Alfred’s chagrin he refuses to be converted. Well into his middle years, Uhtred is still one the most feared warriors in the land. ‘Death of Kings’ is a fast paced action/thriller, historical fiction, with everything in just the right amount: intrigue, deceit, retribution, and 9th century warfare and battle action so real you can smell it. It even has a little romance. I only problem I had with following the complex plot was the use of old Saxon names for the characters and town. It took me a while to catch on that Lundeen was contemporary London etc. Some days I’m a little slower that others.

6 comments:

troutbirder said...

Testing without the word verification...

Retired English Teacher said...

I found this quite fascinating. I am currently reading "Sarum, The Novel of England." Have you ever read it? Interestingly, I am just reading about the time of which you speak with the same terms. I am also reading of the time of King Alfred and all that is going on with the Danes, Anglo-Saxon, and of course, the Welsh. One of the characters is just sending his family off to Lundeen because of a war on the horizon.

The book is about 100 years long. I am trudging through, and enjoying most of it. I am reading it on the Kindle. One nice thing about that is that you can type in a character's name and Kindle shows you all the references to the character. This helps on books like this one!

Lo said...

I cannot read so easily anymore, but I am swept away by that gorgeous photo of the Owl.

Montanagirl said...

Hey, Lo likes my Owl photo!

Ien van Houten said...

Thanks for the review. I love historical fiction, especially about times we know so little about. Don't know if I have the patience for the whole series.

Ien van Houten said...

@retired English teacher: that would be an argument for buying a Kindle! Especially when reading Russian novels...

Love not having that word verification.