Monday, February 9, 2015

The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwall

The Empty Throne: A Novel by Bernard Cornwall --- 296 pages

The eighth book in Cornwall's Saxon Tales series continues to look at Anglo-Saxon Britain through the eyes of the pagan lord Uhtred of  Bebbanburg, warlord in the service of Alfred of Wessex and his dream of a united Saxon kingdom of Englaland.

Alfred is now dead and his son Edward rules Wessex, while his daughter AEthelflaed was wed to AEthelred of Mercia to secure the alliance of Mercia to Wessex. While Edward is an indolent king, content to allow his powerful father-in-law, AEthelhelm, to rule in his name, AEthelflaed has endeared herself to her Mercian subjects by her piety, her canny leadership, and her success in fending off Viking raiders. In this last AEthelflaed is ably assisted by Uhtred, the leader of her warriors and her sometime lover.

Now AEthelflaed's dispised husband, AEthelred, is dying with no direct male heir to succeed him, Ambitious men are vying for his throne, ignoring the Viking threat hanging over Mercia. And Uhtred, suffering from a wound that refuses to heal, seeks to persuade the Mercian witan to do the unthinkable and accept AEthelflaed --- a woman! --- as their ruler.

Historical fiction with the blood and mud immediacy that makes Cornwall of master of the genre. The same British television company that produces Downton Abbey is now filming Cornwall's The Last Kingdom, the first book of the Saxon Tales.  Let's hope it's as good as  the television series based on Cornwall's Richard Sharpe, which catapulted Sean Bean to fame and fortune in the 1990s as the British rifleman who against all odds rises through the ranks during the Napoleonic Wars.

Click HERE to watch the trailer for The Empty Throne.

Click HERE to read the Kirkus review.

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