Joe's Reviews > Death of Kings

Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell
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's review
Mar 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read from March 12 to 17, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Ah, another historical action novels from one of my guilty pleasures, Bernard Cornwell. I know, it's not literature but it sure is fun. I've heard him called the greatest living historical novelist. That might be true if we insist on the "living" qualification. While his books are always grand action-adventures of male fantasy, he's not quite Patrick O'Brian.

This latest addition to the chronical of Uhtred, the Saxon warlord is a delightful departure from the usual Cornwell style. The grand, splattery battle scene (and there is always a grand splattery, battle scene) is held back until the end. Uhtred, no passing into middle age, sees his fortunes rise with the passing of Alfred, the king who has so often manipulated him into service against his will. Though with the king's passing Uhtred's heart changes as he becomes a willing servant Alfred's dream of a united England.

Through much of the novel we see Uhtred engaged in a campaign of trickery and deception against many of his Danish foes. To say too much risks giving spoilers. I'll say only that his schemes are inspired by a rather fun rogue of a character, Ludda, a wandering scam artist, and abetted Cuthbert, a likable priest of easy principals. It's quite a departure from the usual brooding gloom of most Cornwell heroes, and something Cornwell should do more often. Quite refreshing.
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