At the onset of the tenth century, England is in turmoil. Alfred the Great is dead and Edward his son reigns as king. Wessex survives but peace cannot hold: the Danes in the north, led by Viking Cnut Longsword, stand ready to invade and will never rest until the emerald crown is theirs.
Uhtred, once Alfred’s great warrior but now out of favor with the new king, must lead a band of outcasts north to recapture his old family home, that great Northumbrian fortress, Bebbanburg.
Loyalties will be divided and men will fall, as every Saxon kingdom is drawn into the bloodiest battle yet with the Danes; a war which will decide the fate of every king, and the entire English nation.
I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, and after ploughing my way through this I feel I should give a word of advice; do not even attempt to read this book unless you have read the previous six.
Having read other books by this Author, I went into this being acquainted with the way he puts a plot together and develops his characters, and I was not disappointed by what I found within the pages of this novel, his attention to detail from a historical point was apparent on every page. However, it was the main character I had the most problem getting to grips with, and I attribute this entirely to my not having read the series from the beginning. I found that I had no idea as to the personality traits and motivation that drove this character through the book and, because of this lack of background I found the book very hard to finish.
Using the weather to reflect mood is always a good direction for an Author to go, especially if their novels are set in times about which very little is known; but in writing this book I felt that the Author had just a little too much grim weather, in both nature and the demeanour of the main character, that really began to pull me down and make me weary. Another issue I had with this book, was the overuse of the word ‘and’; it appears everywhere from the beginning of a sentence, to liberally sprinkled in the same sentence it began, to linking sentences and starting paragraphs. There were way too many of them. I can’t remember any of the other books I have read by this Author using the word so liberally, but by doing so it made the calibre of this piece of work fall dramatically.
I haven’t decided whether I will backtrack to read this series from the beginning, but I would recommend any books by this Author who enjoys a good historical read; with this book though, just remember to start with book one.