Bernard Cornwell – War Lord

“I drew Serpent-Breath. I was angry with myself for not recognizing what was so damned obvious. There was Englaland, almost formed, there was Alba, with its ambition to rule still more territory, and between them was Northumbria, neither pagan nor Christian, neither Scottish nor Ænglisc, and soon it must be one or the other. Which meant I had to fight whether I wanted to or not.”

 

“In the final reckoning, choose your side carefully…

After years fighting to reclaim his rightful home, Uhtred of Bebbanburg has returned to Northumbria. With his loyal band of warriors and a new woman by his side, his household is secure – yet Uhtred is far from safe. Beyond the walls of his impregnable fortress, a battle for power rages.

To the south, King Æthelstan has unified the three kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia – and now eyes a bigger prize. To the north, King Constantine and other Scottish and Irish leaders seek to extend their borders and expand their dominion.

Caught in the eye of the storm is Uhtred. Threatened and bribed by all sides, he faces an impossible choice: stay out of the struggle, risking his freedom, or throw himself into the cauldron of war and the most terrible battle Britain has ever experienced. Only fate can decide the outcome.

The epic story of how England was made concludes in WAR LORD, the magnificent finale to the Last Kingdom series.”

 

The Book

 

 

5 Stars

 

 

Plot ★★★★★

In this last book of the series the battle takes place which finally makes Alfred’s dream of England come true. Even though Alfred is long dead. So.. as it is a novel based on real historical events of course some things of the storyline are known before. But there is still so much more in the story. Conspiracy, battles, twists, the book is thrilling from the beginning to the end. And emotional! The night before the battle, the reunion of old friends, family dispute.. and reconciliation. One of my favorite parts.

Characters ★★★★★

When reading a book series and reviewing every single volume of it you can’t help but repeat yourself I guess. I still love the dynamic between Uhtred and Finan. I also still like Uhtred, even though at some points his stubbornness really annoyed me. There are so many likable characters! Benedetta and Alaina are definitely new favorites – Bernard Cornwell has created two really strong female characters here. Also Egil, the Norseman who is also a bard and who decides to fight for the Saxons is definitely a new favorite. As always Bernard Cornwell also manages to make the “enemy” sympathetic, at least some of them. There are so many different characters! Great characters!  I just don’t really know what to make of Æthelstan. In a way he seems to be sympathetic but at the same time he is not. But you definitely get the feeling that he is a great king and that was probably the intention.

Setting ★★★★★

Once again Bernard Cornwell draws the reader into early medieval England. Or let’s say what is to become England, because it is not England as we know it today yet. Obviously. Otherwise it wouldn’t be the story of making England. He captures the zeitgeist (apparently that’s a legitimate English word) of the era. The conflict between Christians and those who still believe in the old Gods as well as the rest of the daily life. Also he describes the buildings, places and how the land was organized so well.

Style ★★★★★

I can only repeat myself: I love Bernard Cornwell’s style. I’ve written this quite often by now, so no further explanation needed. 😉

 

Opinion after reading

The Saxon Stories or maybe by now also known as The Last Kingdom Series  (due to the TV show based on the books) has accompanied me for quite some years. I believe I started reading the series when there were only two books out. At some point I switched from German to English. Mostly because I was too impatient to wait for the translation. It was one of the best things to do because Bernard Cornwell’s style of writing is brilliant.
I love this series. I have been interested in this time period for quite a while and Bernard Cornwell captures it so well and brings it alive. I love the characters of the series. The way they developed. Even though we lost some of my favorite characters during the course of time. But it would be boring if all good characters survived, so it’s okay.
This book is a great finale of the series. Once more an exciting story, brilliantly told and really suspenseful. Bernard Cornwell managed to write a satisfying and quite emotional end for his series.
Nevertheless I will really miss reading more of Uhtred and his friends. Every year the next book of the series was my personal reading highlight. So now I guess I need to wait for the TV show to catch up and bring the rest of the book series alive.


 

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