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Lords of the North: A Novel (Saxon…
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Lords of the North: A Novel (Saxon Chronicles #3) (original 2006; edition 2008)

by Bernard Cornwell

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Title:Lords of the North: A Novel (Saxon Chronicles #3)
Authors:Bernard Cornwell
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Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:2012-11-26

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The Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell (2006)

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“Lords of the North” is the third in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories. This episode, set from 878-80, opens about a month after the events in the previous novel.

Uhtred – the anti-hero who is Saxon by birth but Danish at heart – narrates the tale as usual. This time he does not see much of Alfred the Great, who features little in this instalment. But fate, it seems, still links Uhtred with Alfred, despite their dislike of each other, and following Alfred’s actions to free Uhtred from a tight spot, the Danish-loving Saxon swears his oath to do the king another service.

The service is for the pagan Uhtred to settle some trouble up north and seat a Christian Dane on the throne of Northumbria. As usual, there’s some amusing interaction between Uhtred and his faithful friend Beocca; a devout priest who frowns at Uhtred’s disregard of Christian beliefs.

On the whole I found this a very good read, spoilt only by the author’s use of unnecessary dialogue attribution. The actual dialogue itself is superb yet on many occasions its flow is disrupted, even though it’s invariably obvious who’s talking, especially when an exchange is between just two characters. I can’t understand why a talented, seasoned writer like Mr Cornwell feels the need to keep reminding the reader who’s speaking when it’s clear which character it is. For example:

“Alfred wants you back,” she said.
“He wants my sword,” I said, “not me.”

The above exchange is between Uhtred and a female character with nobody else present. The first “she said” is unnecessary, as the reader knows that Uhtred wouldn’t say this. The “I said” is not only pointless but also disruptive to the dialogue. The author has a habit of this latter point:

“Can the crag be climbed?” I asked him.
“No, lord.”
“What about water?” I asked him. “Is there a well?”

Again, the above attribution is unneeded because the reader knows Uhtred is asking the questions and that he wouldn’t call the other character “lord”. Even the most forgetful reader wouldn’t need reminding that Uhtred’s speaking in the above third sentence. Therefore, the second “I asked him” is not only superfluous for this reason, but it also needlessly disrupts the flow of the sentence, plus it’s repetitive. It surprises me that such a good writer as Bernard Cornwell would do this.

I’m also surprised at the overuse of the word “then” – a word I learned to avoid in fiction whilst undertaking a creative writing degree – and “and” is also overused.

But these points regarding style aside, I think this novel is worth checking out if you’re interested in late nine-century English history. It's well-plotted with strong characters. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Jun 21, 2014 |
Uthred of Bebbanburg heads north, now that he has succeeded at the court of Alfred, but getting what he wants isn't going to be easy. The north's a complicated place, and our hero needs to face some of his own baggage and sort out some family issues. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 19, 2014 |
3.5 stars but nearly 4 due to being just what I needed at the time: fun, energetic and refreshing. For my full review please see my blog:

http://theidlewoman.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/the-lords-of-north-bernard-cornwell.h... ( )
  Leander2010 | Jun 17, 2014 |
This is the third book in the Saxon Stories series following The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman. I’ll try to avoid spoilers but you know the drill.

Uhtred helped Alfred win his last war against the Danes, but now, Uhtred is bored and tired of Alfred and his priests. Feeling unappreciated --- Alfred rewarded him for his war efforts but minimally at best --- Uhtred buries his hoard and leaves for the north with plans to capture Dunholm, a northern stronghold. After he inadvertently frees slaves, he also frees the region’s king, Guthred, and he now the men he needs to help him win Dunholm. Except, the gods are no longer smiling on Uhtred and his life, which had been running relatively smoothly, once more takes a strange turn when Guthred sells him into slavery. In an odd twist of fate, his only ally in the north, Hild, a former nun, convinces Guthred she must return to Alfred in Wessex and her nunnery. Upon returning to Alfred, she becomes Uhtred’s only hope for rescue.

Uhtred is a bastard in many ways, except when he’s not, and that can be a lot of the time. He’s a lord in his own right, except he has no land and the land that is his is being ruled by his uncle who usurped Uhtred’s father. Uhtred wants his land back and going north is his way of signaling to Alfred that he’s done with the war. Alfred isn’t ready for that to happen yet, and while he won’t admit it, he needs Uhtred more than Uhtred needs him. While Uhtred might be unreliable, when he makes an oath he won’t break it and Alfred keeps using that one very loyal part of Uhtred. Uhtred knows it but keeps letting it happen because he knows it’s the only way. To be fair though, Uhtred keeps using the oaths to his advantage as well so it’s fair play on both sides.

This is the third book in the Saxon Tales and I have a huge lag between books. Not because I wasn’t enjoying the series, I have been, but I forgot about the series until my last visit to the library when I decided to pick them up again. Cornwell is a favorite when I need some historical fiction, even though he can be a bit on the brutal, bloody side. Then again, he is writing about a very brutal time in history so it all fits. Besides, I like Uhtred. He’s surprising in that he’s extremely loyal, can be a very good guy when he wants to, which happens more often than he cares to think about, and he’s a bit of a softie, especially when it comes to the ladies. I swear, this man is always falling in love. It never gets mushy though which is what I like.

Here’s to the fourth book --- Sword Song. ( )
  justabookreader | Jun 27, 2013 |
The story starts a few months after the end of "The Pale Horseman"(book 2), after the dust has settled from the battle of Ethandun. Although Uhtred was something of a battle-winning hero at the end of the last book, he wasn't given much of a reward from Alfred, so again he finds himself wanting to desert the king and makes his way north again.

Of course things are never that simple, and the author has created a wonderful series of plots, and sub-plots with the introduction of several new characters.

Uhtred decides to return North in an attempt to reclaim his ancestral home of Bebbanburg. Whilst there, he meets Guthred, a young slave in the camp of Uhtred’s sworn enemy Sven. Guthred claims to be the king of Cumbria and Uhtred is able to rescue Guthred from Sven’s holdings. In doing so, he unleashes far-reaching consequences.

Guthred reclaims his throne and Uhtred finds himself as an advisor to the Northumbrian King. Guthred is keen to emulate Alfred, asking Uhtred in each difficult situation what Alfred would do. Uhtred finds himself, for the first time in the series, praising Alfred's foresight and wisdom. He learns through others of Alfred's cunning political machinations, and acquires an increasing respect for him.

Alfred only appears once or twice in the book, and it is all the stronger for it. He is very much the unseen hand - people do his work, be it consciously or unconsciously. You believe that he really is the king, which was a real stretch of the imagination in the first and second books. Somehow in this book Cornwell makes Alfred more enigmatic, whereas in the previous two he was just a fish out of water, and mostly helpless.

The great stories told around this series this will draw you in to the world of Alfred and the Danes at war, and cover you in the blood, mud, victories and defeats of a nation in trouble during the 9th century, and give you an insight into how many of the current place names in England came to be. A great series! ( )
  Jawin | Jul 28, 2012 |
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...Com on wanre niht scriõan sceadugenga

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061149047, Paperback)

The year is 878. Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a Northumbrian lord, has helped the Saxons of Wessex defeat the invading Danes. Now, finally free of his allegiance to the victorious, ungrateful King Alfred, he is heading home to rescue his stepsister, a prisoner of Kjartan the Cruel in the formidable Danish stronghold of Dunholm. Uhtred's best hope is his sword, Serpent-Breath, for his only allies are Hild, a West Saxon nun fleeing her calling, and Guthred, a slave who believes himself king. Rebellion, chaos, fear, and betrayal await them in the north, forcing Uhtred to turn once more, reluctantly, to the liege he formerly served in battle and blood: Alfred the Great.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:28 -0400)

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Returning to his northern home, Uhtred of Bebbanburg finds himself caught up in the takeover crusade of a self-proclaimed ruler of Northumbria, a situation that culminates in a midnight siege on a seemingly impregnable city.

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