"The Empty Throne" by Bernard Cornwell

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So. When last we saw Uhtred of Bebbanburg, he was fighting a desperate battle against extremely long odds, even for him. Overwhelmingly outnumbered, fighting for his life, he is savagely wounded in the same instant that he kills his enemy.

And at the outset of The Empty Throne, the eighth entry in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales, Uhtred is indeed gravely wounded, limping as he walks, stalked by agony if he simply turns his body or mounts his horse. Aethelred, the puppet ruler of Mercia, dies from wounds himself relatively early in the story, and the jockeying for lordship over Mercia begins. Uhtred is just as good at royal politics as he is at fighting, and maneuvers the assembled nobles into accepting Lady Aethelflaed as the now-famous Lady of Mercia. I invite you to look up her legacy and exploits.

Mr. Cornwell consistently brings us to the middle of 10th-Century Britain. The sights and conflicts, the smells and superstitions, envelop us as always. And the indomitable Uhtred lives to plot and scheme and bully his way to victory yet again. I confess I more than half expected this to be the final chapter in this riveting saga, but the author concluded once again with a note that unmistakably indicates that at least one more book is coming in the series. And I am betting that two more books will follow The Empty Throne. I know I hope it’s at least that many.

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