In the latest Saxon Tales novel, King Alfred is nearing death and is concerned about his legacy or at least that his chosen son will succeed him to the throne. Alfred needs Uhtred as his sword to control Wessex and control of the Danes for his son. Uhtred is not so enamored of that notion. Alfred has generally not been generous to Uhtred and it’s time for Uhtred to return the favor, though as usual things don’t always go his way. As his gods would tell him, the three spinners have their own say in his life’s direction.
“Help him, Lord Uhtred,” he said pleadingly. “You are my dux bellorum, my lord of battles, and men know they will win when you lead them. Scour the enemy from England, and so take your fortress back and make my son safe on his God-given throne.” He had not flattered me, he had spoken the truth. I was the warlord of Wessex and I was proud of that reputation. I went into battle glittering with gold, silver, and pride, and I should have known that the gods would resent that. “I want you,” Alfred spoke softly but firmly, “to give my son your oath.” I cursed inwardly, but spoke respectfully. “What oath, lord?” “I wish you to serve Edward as you have served me.” And thus Alfred would tie me to Wessex, to Christian Wessex that lay so far from my northern home.”
In this, Bernard Cornwell’s fifth in this series, the action is just as good, the battles just as fierce, and Uhtred is just as driven to defeat his foes. His continuing victories rely on his skill, cunning, and instincts also with his ability to lead his men make him a marked man who many would pay to see killed.
I again just loved this novel as I have loved all the other before. History written as a novel is a success.