Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Death of Kings" - review...

In a word just fantastic...

A lot of people have mentioned that they didn't like Cornwell's last book ("The Fort") I differed, but didn't think it was one of his classic books - it seemed clear to me that his mind was not fully engaged on the story, and was to a certain extent going through (the very enjoyable, to me) motions - this book marks a return to form... difficult to believe, but this is the sixth book in the "Uhtred" series.

Largely fictional, though based on outlines that Cornwell has researched from the chronicles published at the time, the book is set round the death of Alfred (The Great) and the power struggle that developed following his death... 

Alfred wants his son, Edward, to succeed him but there are other Saxon claimants to the throne (way too many names beginning 'Aeth' to remember! ) and as always the Danes to the north are also keen to defeat the Saxon's in order to settle Wessex and Mercia...

In the book Uhtred‘s loyalty was to Alfred rather than Edward, and he is still largely Dane in outlook despite having battled for Alfred for years - he is a pagan in a largely Christian kingdom, and the thing I like about him is that despite the vows, he is still not 100% committed to Wessex - you feel he could up-sticks and leave at any time.. especially as his continued aim is to regain his old family lands in the north based on Bamburgh Castle..

The book deals with his involuntary vow to support Edward, the mission to build a united England, but in the short term the struggle for survival in the face of a massive Danish invasion, coupled with the conspiracy and double dealing by Saxons and other kingdoms to come out on the winning side..

Brilliant book - Cornwell does the shield wall, and the description of the close quarter fighting, better than any other author I know...  Steve the Wargamer gives this one a solid 8 out of 10.


  1. Well I didn't like his Azincourt and I haven't read the fort yet and so perhaps it's similar in going through the motions as you say.
    Don't get me wrong I'm a huge Cornwell fan and like most everything he writes.

    Still haven't read "Death of Kings", but I've enjoyed the series immensely almost as much as his Grail & Arthur series of which I think Arthur is his best. Looking forward to reading it!


  2. I bought The Fort a couple of months ago and have still not read it yet and I bought "Death of Kings" yesterday. I think I'm gonna have to re-read the other books in the series as I can't really remember what went on, my brains going...I'm sure of it. So I'm sorry to say I didn't read your post because I don't want to know what goes on!! Crackers I know!!

  3. I do the same thing Ray, re-read (and enjoy) the previous books when a new installment comes out in a series I have enjoyed.

    I have loved reading the Uhtred saga and cant wait to get my hands on this one!

  4. brilliant. This is one for me.

  5. Steve - as a lurker I always enjoy reading your blog. I'm also a fan of Cornwell and buy absolutely everything he writes. Just a quick note to say I quite enjoyed The Fort, as I thought it a interesting story - but as you say not one of his best! Still, Cornwell not at his best beats watching the X-Factor!

  6. Eric - you are SO right.... :o)

  7. I really rather liked "The Fort" - though that may have something to do with the fact that I'm a massive Sir John Moore fan.

    I enjoy Cornwell, though I prefer Sharpe to his medieval books. I find the Christian characters a bit wearying.