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Bernard Cornwell
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The Warlords chronicles part 1; The Winterking
paperback
512 pages
Fantastic book because it provides a somewhat different look at the King Arthur story. It is a book I felt sorry it had an end, I wanted to keep reading it forever.
It tells the story of an old monk, Derfel, telling the tale of his friendship with Arthur, and the struggles they had to fight...

It portraits a wholly different view of Arthur then the legend might suggest, as an honest man who tries all he can to protect his people but isn't without fault. Despite all his hard work everyone seems to be trying to ruin all his efforts, but with the help of a few friends he does manage to achieve his goal in the end.. But then the Saxon's return...

Filled with brilliant descriptions of gritty warfare and the horrors of medieval battles, politics, an historic moments it's a story not just about the truth behind the legend but about love, friendship and life..
10/10
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Bernard Cornwell
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The Last Kingdom
paperback
333 pages
The first book in a brand new series, The Last Kingdom is set in England during the reign of King Alfred. Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria.

Orphaned at ten, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault. The struggle between the English and the Danes and the strife between christianity and paganism is the background to Uhtred's growing up.

He is left uncertain of his loyalties but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred's kingdom. Marriage ties him further still to the West Saxon cause but when his wife and child vanish in the chaos of the Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest of the Viking chieftains in a battle beside the sea.

There, in the horror of the shield-wall, he discovers his true allegiance. The Last Kingdom, like most of Bernard Cornwell's books, is firmly based on true history. It is the first novel of a series that will tell the tale of Alfred the Great and his descendants and of the enemies they faced, Viking warriors like Ivar the Boneless and his feared brother, Ubba.

Against their lives Bernard Cornwell has woven a story of divided loyalties, reluctant love and desperate heroism. In Uhtred, he has created one of his most interesting and heroic characters and in The Last Kingdom one of his most powerful and passionate novels.

Must read!
10/10
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Bernard Cornwell
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Enemy of God
paperback
496 pages
The continuing story of Arthur, the second in a trilogy which began with THE WINTER KING. The novels bring Arthur and his world to vivid life. A man battling for his vision of the future in a brutal age, dragged down by suspicions and magics of the past, surrounded by intrigue, dependent on his skill at war and genius for leadership.

As absorbing as the first one, and most definitely recommended!
10/10
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Bernard Cornwell
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Excalibur
paperback
496 pages
A story of love, war, loyalty and betrayal, EXCALIBUR begins with the failure of Lancelot's rebellion and the ruin of Arthur's marriage to Guinevere. The Saxons, sensing the disunity of the Britons, seize the chance to destroy Arthur. The climax of the war comes with the legendary triumph at Mount Badon, and Arthur`s great victory. But the promises he made then come back to haunt him after the years of peace and glory.

Superb, ending a bit forced perhaps, not quite as riveting as the first 2, but nevertheless a must-read
9/10
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Bernard Cornwell
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The Pale Horseman
paperback
416 pages
The Pale Horseman tells the historical story of the 9th-century Danish (Norse or 'Viking') invasion and Alfred's struggle for the survival of Wessex and his idea of a united England. The Danes have already defeated Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. Then the Danes broke the truce and Alfred's kingdom shrunk to an area of vast swamps and tidal flats known as the Somerset Levels.

With the help of our fictional warrior, Uhtred, a man caught between loyalty and desire, Alfred rallies the fyrd - a people's army of sorts - to the great battle of Ethandun in 878 CE.

Alfred's victory saved Wessex and indeed the possibility of "England" - a Danish victory and perhaps that island would be called Daneland (although had the Danes never invaded Alfred would never have had the opportunity to unite the disparate Saxon kingdoms). In any event, much remains to be done. Alas, we must await Cornwell's third installment, The Lords of the North due out in the US in January 2007.

Highly recommended for fans of Cornwell or anyone who enjoys historical adventure stories. The battle descriptions put the reader right in the clash of steel, the chanting, the roaring insults, banging of shields, blood, earthy human odors, the bloodlust, the horrible injuries and brutal deaths.
8/10
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Bernhard Cornwell
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The Empty Throne
paperback
320 pages
The eighth novel in Bernard Cornwell’s number one bestselling series on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

In the battle for power, there can be only one ruler.

England is fractured, torn apart more by internal fighting than the threat of Viking invasion. The ruler of Mercia is dying, leaving no legitimate heir. His wife is a formidable fighter and great leader, but no woman has ever ruled over an English kingdom. And she is without her strongest warrior and champion, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. So the scene is set for an explosive battle between elders and warriors for an empty throne.

The vacant throne leaves a dangerous opportunity for the rival West Saxons to seize Mercia. But Edward of Wessex is distracted by the succession of his own throne, with two heirs claiming the right to be West Saxon king. And while the kingdoms are in disarray, the Vikings, this time coming from the west, will go on the rampage once more.

Engaging addition to the series, makes the time of the Vikings come to life. Recommended!
9/10
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Bernhard Cornwell
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The Flame Bearer
paperback
304 pages
From the day it was stolen from me I had dreamed of recapturing Bebbanburg. The great fort was built on a rock that was almost an island, it was massive, it could only be approached on land by a single narrow track – and it was mine.

Britain is in a state of uneasy peace. Northumbria’s Viking ruler, Sigtryggr, and Mercia’s Saxon Queen Aethelflaed have agreed a truce. And so England’s greatest warrior, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, at last has the chance to take back the home his traitorous uncle stole from him so many years ago – and which his scheming cousin still occupies.

But fate is inexorable and the enemies Uhtred has made and the oaths he has sworn combine to distract him from his dream of recapturing Bebbanburg. New enemies enter into the fight for England’s kingdoms: the redoubtable Constantin of Scotland seizes an opportunity for conquest and leads his armies south. Britain’s precarious peace threatens to turn into a war of annihilation.

But Uhtred is determined that nothing, neither the new enemies nor the old foes who combine against him, will keep him from his birth right. He is the Lord of Bebbanburg, but he will need all the skills he has learned in a lifetime of war to make his dream come true.
9/10
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Running Apache