Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Warriors of the Storm, Bernard Cornwell

Publishers: HarperCollins

Pages: 320

Main Characters:

Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Aethelfead, 
Ragnall Iverson

Warriors of the Storm is the ninth book in Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Tales series and picks up the saga of Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

As a fragile peace is held between the Saxons in the south of England and the Danes in the north, Uhtred feels that his life can finally gain some normality in his aging years. However, when news spreads from over the sea that the Irish tribes have expelled the Viking Lords that had once ruled there, Uhtred knows that war will soon come to England.

The Danish warlord Ragnall Iverson (who once carved out a Kingdom for himself in Ireland) comes to England to dispose of the weakened King of Jorvik and unite the Danes in the north of England; preparing them for war against the Christian Saxons. By using his cunning and cruelty, Ragnall manages to outfox Uhtred and accomplish his goals.

The Last Kingdom TV show based on these novels

However, though he is old, Uhtred is still a warrior and has a brilliant military mind and with some bluffing, quick thinking and bullying, Uhtred manages to outsmart Ragnall and bring him to battle. Nevertheless, a shield wall is a place for a young man and with the fighting more intense and desperate than ever; can Uhtred survive this epic battle?

There’s not much I can say about this novel. It was another enjoyable Uhtred tale from Bernard Cornwell with a similar plot to most of the other books in the series. You know: peace time, war time, looks like they’re gonna lose time, Uhtred turns it around at the last second time. Honestly, I’m just reading these novels out of loyalty to the author and because I have invested so much time into reading them, I actually want to see how they finish!

Example of Saxon shield wall
I’m starting to get a little deluded with historical-fiction writers making these long, drawn out series. There are so many good books out there that I want to read, but year after year I return to these types of series to read the next installment because I always hope it will be the final one in the series. That isn’t to say that these books are bad, it’s just that they are getting a little predictable and because they have been going on for so long, they are starting to make me feel a little resentful.

It’s like the author/publisher is using these series as a cash cow, bringing out a new book every year and not really adding any effort to develop the overall plot, which for The Saxon Tales is Uhtred regaining Bebbanburg. The most excited I’ve been in this series was a few books ago when I thought Uhtred died. This is because I thought, ‘oh, the plot is going to go somewhere totally new and different’, but it didn’t. He magically comes back to life in the next novel and the cycle continues. I just honestly think it’s ok to end something at its peak. It leaves fans with a sense of nostalgia and respect for a book, movie or TV show, which I think is always lost if that form of entertainment is constantly shoved down your throat every year!

To conclude (because I feel like I’m ranting) this was another enjoyable book in The Saxon Tales series. I think if you’re like me and have read all the books this far then you will enjoy it. However, for a new reader, don’t expect to be blown away by this book; go and read its predecessors first. In fact, if you’re totally new to Bernard Cornwell, stay away from this series for a while and go and read books like Azincourt, Harlequins or even Crackdown, they are my favourites!

For author's official website click here.

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