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The Empty Throne

(The Last Kingdom #8)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  19,052 ratings  ·  994 reviews
The new novel in Bernard Cornwell’s number one bestselling series The Warrior Chronicles, 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.

The ruler of Mercia is dying, leaving no apparent heir. His wife is a born leader, but no woman has ever ruled over an English kingdom. And she is without
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 23rd 2015 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (first published September 16th 2014)
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Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,052 ratings  ·  994 reviews

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Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will never forget the day I turned those initial pages and started the very first book in the Warrior Chronicles (Saxon Stories in the US) for the very first time. It was many years ago now and was the beginning of a wonderful journey for me.

I had always been an avid reader. Since I learned to read really, but I had never found my niche fiction genre. I dabbled in fantasy fiction, I dipped my toe in horror, absorbed myself in crime thrillers, but it was not until I forged my way through th
Sean Barrs
Has Uhtred finally ran out of fight?

Uhtred was severely injured at the end of the last novel. It is a wound that would kill off a lesser men. But Uhtred is stronger than that. Even in his old age he retains the courage of a warrior. He seeks the blade that pierced his flesh in order to cure his ailment. His pagan superstition demands that this will save his life; thus, most of the novel is given over to an injured Uhtred trying to find a sword amongst the backdrop of a few nobles fighting over
Coming back to Uhtred after reading tons of mediocre literature across all genres is like finding an oasis in a desert. I was engrossed from the first sentence, and The Empty Throne brought back the joy of reading that I always lose a bit of when reading too many dreary books.

However, there is no doubt that Bernard Cornwell is running out of plot and has to turn to half-and-half improvisation and rehashing of old storylines to keep the series going until the two inevitable final goals: Uhtred's
The Empty Throne is one of Bernard Cornwell’s best. Uhtred is written so well here, and he has such a strong voice and personality, I am constantly chuckling to myself at his downright rudeness - he’s becoming an impatient grey-bearded man!

“I wondered why the gods no longer came to earth. It would make belief so much easier.”

I have found that the deeper I delve into the Saxon Chronicles the more I enjoy them. There is a typical format for a Cornwell book, but there’s a reason why he is consider
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

These are all characters in this book. You fucking with me, Uncle Bernard? An actual 10th-century Anglo-Saxon would have trouble telling all these names apart. It's almost jarring when a character pops up whose name DOESN'T start with an ash, like Edward or Brice. Given that only one or two of these people probably actually appear in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle this reliance on the ash has to be a Cornwell thing, and it b
James Tivendale
Some really good standout moments again, and I like where the story may be heading with characters like Athelstan and Stiorra. Favourites such as Finan and Osferth are always a pleasure to read about still. On to the next one...
Jason Koivu
Like books four and five in the GoT series, much of this book feels like housekeeping. Perhaps I should say, hallkeeping or castlecleaning.

I thought maybe in The Empty Throne our half-Dane, half-Saxon hero Uhtred of Bebbanburg might finally regain his lands and castle, but instead the story veers away from what it seemed to be leading up to and turned its focus on the bigger picture. That's annoying, but perhaps it's for the best. The get-my-castle-back storyline was getting stale. Besides, if h
David Sven
If you've already read the other 7 books then this is more of the same AWESOMENESS!!!

But I can't keep gushing every instalment.If you haven't read any of these books then all I want to say about this series is in my review of the last book here

To be totally fair, the first few books were probably better as they were Uhtred's coming of badassery and from 4 or 5 onwards is just Uhtred being badass.

Also, the series is now pretty episodic. I'm now convinced that Uhtred's never getting to Bebbanburg.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another gripping story in The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell. He is such a fantastic story-teller! He brings his believable characters to life. His main character, Uhtred, is a nobleman and sometimes an outcast, even an outlaw, and is respected as a great warrior throughout the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. King Alfred has died, and has been succeeded by his son, King Edward.

In this book, Uhtred is older now, and is suffering from a serious wound in a battle. He is on a quest to cur
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hist-f-dark-ages
I began this tale with trepidation & fears of it being another filler akin to The Pagan Lord......

And so it starts with a prologue to fill in the gaps from the previous tale & at first you question if Uhtred still lives, then all becomes clear. We have the usual politicking which takes us through the first third of the book & then onto the adventure part where we have to get from A to B before X does..... all sounds very formulaic to those of us that have been here before, especially so those th
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Historical political intrigues at their best!
C.P. Lesley
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked it—which is extraordinary when you consider that Bernard Cornwell's books are miles away from the kinds of books I normally read. I've read several of the Saxon Chronicles (The Last Kingdom, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord) before this one and liked all of them. There's just something about Uhtred, hard-bitten warlord that he is, that makes him an appealing character. His appreciation for strong women, perhaps, or his relentless honesty, including honesty about his own flaws. Or perhaps i ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too short a book.

5stars. Great battle scenes.
Amanda Hupe
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eight down and 5 to go! The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell is the 8th book in the Saxon Stories series. England hasn’t been the same since Alfred’s death. Edward rules Wessex now, but King Aethelred of Mercia is now dying. Athelflaed does not want Mercia to be absorbed into Wessex. But who could rule? Even though Uhtred is not healing well from his injury, he is determined to see Athelflaed on the throne, but a woman ruling is unheard of. Uhtred can’t manage much as long as he has his injury s ...more
It always pains me a little to write disparagingly about a book by one of the authors who have most mesmerised me with other novels but hopefully as you read this review you'll empathise with why.

Have you ever got the feeling that an author should have quit while he was ahead with a series and ended it at a certain point? In other words, better to leave the audience hungry for more than to keep going and sink, only slightly but noticeably, lower than the previous quality.

Don't get me wrong, at t
The Shayne-Train
You know, it's a severely bittersweet feeling, for me, to finish a story about the incomparable Uhtred Uhtredson. I love this series so much, when I complete the newest novel, it feels like I'm sending my child off to her first day of school all over again.

So why, a sane person may ask, do you read the damn books so quickly when they come out, Shayne old boy? Well, I happen to have an answer to that:


Not a single one has bored me. Despite what I
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Actual Rating: 2.5 Stars

Definitely my least favorite of the series thus far. Was hoping for a bit more since this book focuses on Æthelflæd but alas, it took quite a while for anything interesting to occur & when it finally did it was very dull compared to the action sequences present in prior books.
Executive Summary: This might be my favorite book in the series so far. Or it could just be that after what was probably the weakest book, this one was just another solid entry. It's hard to say, as I'm now about a year removed from reading the first few books. Either way, this series continues to be a lot of fun.

Full Review
Uhtred is getting older, and perhaps a bit wiser, but he's still the same old Uthred. After the end of the previous book, I wasn't sure what to expect here. There is defi
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this latest entry to Mr. Cornwell’s Saxon Shores series somewhere in the middle of the series in quality. It is formulaic - Uthred hates the Christian Church, has good battle sequences, and Uthred is responsible for saving the Saxons/Mericians from themselves and the Danes.

Let me start with what I liked. The prologue, it is written is his son’s voice and I thought was well done. When I read it, my reaction was that the story was about to change main characters – it doesn’t. In the novel
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, vikings
This book is going to be a hard act to follow. I'm already having a hard time finding another one to read. My words aren't as eloquent as most, but I loved this book! Yes, I loved it. I sleep with it at night and I kiss it before I go to sleep. I think the description does a fine job of telling you what the book's about, but I will say that Uhtred's son and daughter are in the book a lot and so is Aethelflaed. The end left me saying "What the.....", then "No way!"

Do I have to wait another year f
Krista Claudine Baetiong
Uhtred says that there will come a time when his people’s children will know peace, but for now, they will first have to learn how to draw swords and stand in shield walls and defend their families and lands.

Because war is still far from over.

Mercia has just lost its ruler and is in turmoil. Another war is brewing. Lands and lives are still not safe. The Saxons have spent most of their lifetime fighting off enemies from distant lands, but this time around, their war is not just set out against
Mark Harrison
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stonking, battle filled fest and great return to form. Uthred tries to help fill the empty throne of Mercia battling many Saxon factions, raiding Norsemen, his own injuries and his very feisty daughter - a solid addition to the cast. Lots of action, lots of familiar characters and just a rollicking good read - amongst the best of the series.
Lee Broderick
Eight books into a seven book series, this could run and run...

I complained in my review of The Pagan Lord that it felt a lot like filler. I now realise though, that that filler wasn't meant to draw out the series for one more book but to promote a Doctor Who like capacity for regeneration of Cornwell's latest protagonist that I had tried to ignore. I don't think that this is mere commercial exploitation, however much cynical-me would like to suggest it - I think Cornwell does have a genuine
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well I dragged it out as long as I could, but I've finished it!

It's easy to say I loved it, because I have loved all of them. I love Bernard Cornwells writing, and haven't read anything I don't like yet. Uhtred is such a great character! He is the bloke you want at your campfire, telling you stories, as well as at your back. He is the bloke that everyone hovers around at the party. He has the charisma, the "certain something" that makes you love or hate him. And if you hate him it's usually bec
Susan Johnson
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

This is not my favorite book in the Saxon series but Uhtred is alive and suffering from the wounds he received in Pagan Lord. No matter what he does, he just can't seem to recover so he must rely on others more than he does. In the best scenes in the book, in my opinion, are him establishing a relationship with his son, Uhtred, and his daughter, Stiorra, who is a big surprise to her father.

Aethelred finally dies (yippee) and Uhtred must step in to protect Aethelflead's, the widow, rig
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-2015
Cornwell is a master at writing and Uhtred is amazing. I love the cast of younger characters starting to fill in as well, especially the strong women!
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So Uhtred is back to his old self, hating the church, kicking ass taking names and his kids are growing up....and they are both kinda badass in their own way. Great return to form.
Patricia Bracewell
Cornwell's previous novel, THE PAGAN LORD, ended on a brilliantly written cliff hanger. He's followed that up with a just-as-brilliant opening for THE EMPTY THRONE. When it comes to darned fine story-telling, nobody does it better.

The empty throne of the title is that of Mercia, and much of this story has to do with the intrigue and treachery around the selection of Mercia's new ruler. It's Saxon vs. Saxon this time, although the Vikings make a special guest appearance. There are battles, ship b
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
back to the series and the fallout and tensions after the battle of tettenhall and frictions between mercia and Wessex. cornwell delights us taking there to the welsh marches and chester where events lead onto conflicts and solutions where saxon in fighting encourages norse attacks.. doesn't disappoint ...more
John McDermott
3.5 stars .
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Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother, who was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his birth mother's maiden n ...more

Other books in the series

The Last Kingdom (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)
  • The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Stories, #2)
  • Lords of the North (The Saxon Stories, #3)
  • Sword Song (The Saxon Stories, #4)
  • The Burning Land (The Saxon Stories, #5)
  • Death of Kings (The Saxon Stories, #6)
  • The Pagan Lord (The Saxon Stories, #7)
  • Warriors of the Storm (The Saxon Stories, #9)
  • The Flame Bearer (The Saxon Stories, #10)
  • War of the Wolf (The Saxon Stories, #11)

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