Rating: 4 out of 5
It doesn’t take much for me to like a Bernard Cornwell book. Though I don’t think the Saxon Stories… oh, wait, it’s been renamed to The Last Kingdom series now… the Saxon Stories… books are amongst his best—there’s far too much repetition for this to be the case for the avid reader—it is nevertheless an entertaining series and this installation doesn’t disappoint.
Much like in the previous volume, ‘War of the Wolf‘, this felt new to me though I suspect the main reason is that I’ve been away from this series for so long. I also felt at liberty to overlook most of the ‘repeating’ descriptions of how horrible a shield-wall is for the men there given these take place about twice every book. Yet, there was also a newer touch with an additional emphasis on raiding and naval combat that gave this book a newer look.
I still like the numerous allusions to Anglo-Saxon culture, especially ‘The Exile’ and ‘The Ruin’ which spruce up the book quite nicely. It must have been quite a time for those 9th and 10th century people to look and wander about at the Roman past they saw and to compare it to the life they lived in… Cornwell brings us close to appreciating that past.