Lords of the North Review
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The long wait was worth it. Lords of the North is a rollicking, action-filled testosterone fest. If you haven’t read The Last Kingdom or The Pale Horseman, then you should be sold into slavery on a Nordic merchant ship circa A.D. 878. Then you can endure a small fraction of the suffering that author Bernard Cornwell puts Uhtred, the hero of this series, through.

Uhtred is now 21 years old, and he thinks, like any 21-year-old boy, that he should be the King of Britain—or what will one day become Britain. By the time this third chapter of the saga begins, he’s already married, he’s had a son, he’s had the son die, he’s sent his wife to live in a convent, he’s fought on the side of the Saxons against the Danes, and he’s fought for the Danes when they faced the Saxons. Not to mention that his uncle has stolen the land that Uhtred should have inherited when his father was killed by the Danes—the very same Danes who captured him, raised him as a slave, set him free, taught him to sail and to fight, then pledged their allegiance to him—only to revoke the pledge later.

This book is full of interesting characters—like Kjartan the Cruel, Sven the One-Eyed, and Uhtred’s uncle, Ælfric—and Cornwell brings each of them to life with flair and pizzazz. He gives meaning to all of the characters in the series, and he never brings one in just to fill pages. While there’s sometimes too much luck involved in the ways in which Uhtred manages to escape his enemies, there’s still a strong element of believability in each event. As in most historical fiction, there are holes in the plot that a truck could drive through, but the fast pace of the action pulls the reader past them and on to the next adventure.

The story is told by Uhtred himself, as he’s now over 80 years old, looking back on a life well lived. All men should be lucky enough to live a life this full—and all men should take the time to read this series of books.

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