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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Review: War Lord

War Lord (The Last Kingdom #13)
Author: Bernard Cornwell

Publisher: 15th October 2020 by HarperCollins Australia

Pages: 352 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: historical fiction

My Rating: 5 crowns


England is under attack. Chaos reigns. Northumbria, the last kingdom, is threatened by armies from all sides, by land and sea – and only one man stands in their way. Torn between loyalty and sworn oaths, the warrior king Lord Uhtred of Bebbanburg faces his greatest ever battle – and prepares for his ultimate fate…

My Thoughts

Bernard Cornwell's legendary creation, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, returns for the 13th and final novel in The Last Kingdom series. What a ride it has been. This is such an excellent series, so much so, it was adapted by the BBC for television and is about to start filming its fifth season. I am such a fan. 

‘It's coming, and what I should do is raise the ramparts of Bebbanburg and shut out the whole damned world.'  He grunted at that. 'And you think the world will leave us alone?'  'No.'   

Cornwell is a master storyteller and sadly states, this is the final instalment in the legendary Uhtred’s journey. However, I can happily say it was a most fitting finale to what has been an epic tale. From the very beginning it has revolved around Uhtred’s great love for his home of Bebbanburg and in this final instalment with Aethelstan fighting to unite all the kingdoms into Englaland and the Scots invading from the North, Bebbanburg and Uhtread find themselves right in the middle.

‘I drew Serpent-Breath. I was angry, not with Kolfinn, nor even with Guthfrith, but with myself for not recognising 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 ├ćnglisc, and soon it must be one or the other. Which meant I had to fight whether I wanted to or not.’

Outside of the Tudors I did not know that much about English history. I have enjoyed every step along the way as initially Alfred began with a vision of a united England. Uhtred is, of course, fictional however so much of the rest of the story contains fabulous historical research. Cornwell’s notes at the end of every story are a revelation in themselves as his merging of fact and fiction is seamless. 

Cornwell is a fabulous writer, he has a legion of followers and to write 13 books in one series of this calibre is astounding. Fans will be happy with the characters - some old friends and some new faces. There is the usual action (how I will miss my shield wall!) and the total immersion in Uhtred’s world. Gosh! It has been a wonderful journey. I cannot recommend enough for you to spend some time with this pagan war lord, he may be getting old and finding it harder to fight but he is ‘Uhtred, son of Uhtred’ and will forever be a force to reckon with on any battlefield. 

‘He's risen above me. He's King of Britain and I'm old and irrelevant. He wants a new Britain dominated by Englaland and I'm a small pagan stone in his royal Christian shoe.' 'So what will you do?'  

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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