“These days I look at twenty-year-olds and think they are pathetically young, scarcely weaned from their mothers’ tits, but when I was twenty I considered myself a full-grown man. I had fathered a child, fought in the shield wall, and was loath to take advice from anyone. In short I was arrogant, stupid, and headstrong. Which is why, after our victory at Cynuit, I did the wrong thing.”
In Bernard Cornwell’s second novel in the Saxon Tales series, Uhtred behaves like a young boy rather than a seasoned man. His missteps after helping beat back the Danes left him in an unenviable position and gave an enemy the upper hand. Still feeling more Dane than British, Uhtred struggels to make a positive impression on his King, Alfred. Though he has done much to save Alfred, Uhtred is still not trusted nor given command. His fate becomes more perilous when Wessex is force to hunker down in a massive swamp to avoid being routed by the Danes, some of whom are still like brothers.
“I was a lord of Northumbria, but he was a Dane, and to a Dane all Saxons are lesser men, and so he had demanded an oath. If I gave him an oath, then he would be generous but I would be expected to show gratitude, and I could only ever hold Bebbanburg because he allowed me to hold it. I had never thought it all through before, but suddenly, on that cold day, I understood that among the Danes I was as important as my friends, and without friends I was just another landless, masterless warrior. But among the Saxons I was another Saxon, and among the Saxons I did not need another man’s generosity.”
I again, really enjoyed this romp through medieval history.