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"The Flame Bearer" by Bernard Cornwell

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"The Flame Bearer" by Bernard Cornwell
With The Flame Bearer Bernard Cornwell brings the tenth entry in his vivid Last Kingdom series (once known as the Saxon Chronicles). In it Lord Uhtred continues to focus his energy and his followers on retaking his ancestral home, the fortress at Bebbanburg. The action continues apace, with vivid, expertly done battle scenes, and  theatrical set pieces where Uhtred holds center stage at court, adroitly turning the tables on ambitious nobles and venal churchmen. Yes, all the usual thrills are here for your delectation.

While the campaigns with their vivid 10th Century battles do not come as frequently as in other Last Kingdom novels, Flame Bearer makes up for it with its climax. Uhtred must lull his usurping cousin into a false sense of security (through use of strategically placed misinformation) while running a blockade set by a fierce Norseman. Throw into the mix a third enemy, no less than the feared army of Scotland, led by its King Constatin, and you have unusually long odds, even for Uhtred. Suffice it to say the final battle scene makes up for the occasional - and comparative - calm that precedes it. Excellent stuff.

This is an escape I savor every time a new Uhtred of Bebbanburg book comes out. Cornwell excels at this writing, and is widely admired for it. It isn’t just every series that is made into a Netflix series - I was deeply interested to start watching it, but with my schedule that’s all I could manage - just the start. I am glad and proud that others have noticed the quality of the thrills, plots, characters, and yes, the truth of these tomes. Cornwell puts into his hero’s

Escape to 10th Century Britain. You couldn't find a finer time machine.
mind and speech the consciousness of war’s horrors, the plain if covered-up truth of men’s fear on the eve of battle, the honest and frank description of shit, and blood, and guts, and screams, and stench of it all. If these are things to escape to, let Cornwell be your guide. I have no idea now how many more books he will bring out in this series. I feel like I’ve been on borrowed time for a couple of books now, anything else has been and will be a bonus.
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