War of the Wolf: A Novel
Readers and fans alike might’ve thought Bernard Cornwell had reached the end of his bestselling Saxon Tales series with book ten, The Flame Bearer. Uhtred of Bebbanburg has reached a prime old age, seen many battles, slain many, and taken back his birthright, Bebbanburg. Surely it’s time for him to settle down and enjoy retirement, no? Is there such a thing as retirement in the Middle Ages? The mantra that has been repeated among the Saxons is “Wyrd bið ful āræd,” or “Fate is inexorable.” Uhtred may have satisfied his whims, completed his goals, achieved his lifetime wants, but history does not stop; it continues ever onward. And Cornwell is not done telling stories in this world of ninth-century England.
To the south comes the dynastic struggle of who will be the next king to help unify and hold what there is of the country together; even if Uhtred doesn’t want to be involved, with his history, he unavoidably always is. And to the north is a new enemy, Sköll, a Norseman who is looking to become the next king of Northumbria. With his army of wolf-warriors, he will stop at nothing to gain what he wants, even if it means slaughtering members of Uhtred’s family. And at the same time, Uhtred has turned superstitious in his old age, feeling he has been cursed, with everything turning against him; and until the curse is lifted, things will continue to get worse.
I’m certain no one will have any complaints that Cornwell is continuing his Saxon Tales, and will delight in further adventures of Uhtred, who, even though he’s getting to be quite late in his years, still has plenty of fight left in him, and at the very least, has decades of military experience to offer. The action scenes are gripping as always, described in exquisite detail, while the history is immersive and informative.
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