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Death of Kings by Bernard Cornwell
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(9) I have lost track of what number this is in the "Last Kingdom" series - Cornwall's Lord Uhtred series set in medieval Britain. Arthur the Great has died and his young son Edward has inherited the throne or has he? This would be an excellent time for the Danes to unite and take over England.. . But not if Uhtred has anything to say about it.

I enjoy these novels especially as I am reading them along with watching the Netflix series, but I have to say this one was rather dispiritedly written. Granted this is based on history so there is only so much liberty the author can take - but my gosh - it is all so repetitive with just slightly different pagan lords taking the place of the ones Uhtred killed the previous book. Edward seems a paper cut-out and less flesh and blood than his father. And Uhtred has become a bit less believable. The earlier books in the series were better regarding characterization for sure. It all has a been there, done that kind of feel.

Anyway, I am ready for Uhtred to go to Bebbanburg and call it a day. But despite my critique, the series is still a guilty escapist pleasure. ( )
  jhowell | Feb 15, 2018 |
Uhtred saves England, well, Wessex again. Alfred dies, and his son Edward "The Elder" gains the throne. there are several bloody episodes and the sulky reluctant saxon, Uhtred makes everything right in the end. The major villains survive, so we'll be ready for the next chapter. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 16, 2018 |
This was a very good book, however I only give it four stars due to problems with the timeline. It seems at points that Cornwell has forgotten how much time elapsed between novels. This book is set in 898 - 6 years after the Burning Land - yet events that happened in the latter are referred to as merely happening the year before in the Death of Kings. So too are characters met then far younger than they should be now. Regrettably this is the start of a trend in later novels, though it doesn't detract from the overall enjoyability either of the book or its parent series. ( )
  NishaGreyjoy | Sep 26, 2017 |
One more great book to continue The Saxon Stories. ( )
  zeppanen | Apr 28, 2016 |
The grand fun continues! Now Uhtred is now an old man, and he has a huge alliance against him and now, with Alfred dead, his support is very faltering. His enemies set a huge trap for him. He figures it out at the last minute, and takes a huge courageous risk to come out victorious, with the reinforcements arriving just in the nick of time. Yeah, it's a bit of a formula, but done with style and skill... another page turner! ( )
  kukulaj | Feb 15, 2016 |
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Death of Kings is for

Anne LeClaire,

novelist and friend,

who supplied the first line.
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"Every day is ordinary," Father Willibald said, "until it isn't."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061969656, Hardcover)


George R.R. Martin Interviews Bernard Cornwell

George R.R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally since then. He spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer-producer, working on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and television pilots that were never made. In the mid '90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since.

George R.R. Martin: It has long been my contention that the historical novel and the epic fantasy are sisters under the skin, that the two genres have much in common. My series owes a lot to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and the other great fantasists who came before me, but I've also read and enjoyed the work of historical novelists. Who were your own influences? Was historical fiction always your great passion? Did you ever read fantasy?

Bernard Cornwell: You're right--fantasy and historical novels are twins--and I've never been fond of the label 'fantasy' which is too broad a brush and has a fey quality. It seems to me you write historical novels in an invented world which is grounded in historical reality (if the books are set in the future then 'fantasy' magically becomes sci-fi). So I've been influenced by all three: fantasy, sci-fi and historical novels, though the largest influence has to be C.S. Forester's Hornblower books.

Martin: A familiar theme in a lot of epic fantasy is the conflict between good and evil. The villains are often Dark Lords of various ilks, with demonic henchmen and hordes of twisted, malformed underlings clad in black. The heroes are noble, brave, chaste, and very fair to look upon. Yes, Tolkien made something grand and glorious from that, but in the hands of lesser writers, well ... let's just say that sort of fantasy has lost its interest for me. It is the grey characters who interest me the most. Those are the sort I prefer to write about... and read about. It seems to me that you share that affinity. What is it about flawed characters that makes them more interesting than conventional heroes?

Cornwell: Maybe all our heroes are reflections of ourselves? I'm not claiming to be Richard Sharpe (God forbid), but I'm sure parts of my personality leaked into him (he's very grumpy in the morning). And perhaps flawed characters are more interesting because they are forced to make a choice… a conventionally good character will always do the moral, right thing. Boring. Sharpe often does the right thing, but usually for the wrong reasons, and that's much more interesting!

Martin: When Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings, it was intended as a sequel to The Hobbit. "The tale grew in the telling," he said later, when LOTR had grown into the trilogy we know today. That's a line I have often had occasion to quote over the years, as my own Song of Ice and Fire swelled from the three books I had originally sold to the seven books (five published, two more to write) I'm now producing. Much of your own work has taken the form of multi-part series. Are your tales too 'growing in the telling,' or do you know how long your journeys will take before you set out? Did you know how many books Uhtred's story would require, when you first sat down to write about him?

Cornwell: No idea! I don't even know what will happen in the next chapter, let alone the next book, and have no idea how many books there might be in a series. E.L. Doctorow said something I like which is that writing a novel is a bit like driving down an unfamiliar country road at night and you can only see as far ahead as your somewhat feeble headlamps show. I write into the darkness. I guess the joy of reading a book is to find out what happens, and for me that's the joy of writing one too!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:48 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The fate of a young nation rests in the hands of a reluctant warrior in the thrilling sixth volume of the New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales series. Following the intrigue and action of The Burning Land and Sword Song, this latest chapter in Bernard Cornwell's epic saga of England is a gripping tale of divided loyalties and mounting chaos. At a crucial moment in time, as Alfred the Great lays dying, the fate of all--Angles, Saxons, and Vikings alike--hangs desperately in the balance.… (more)

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