Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published January 6th 2013
The continuing saga of Uhtred of Bebbanburg
Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife.
In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the 'Making of England' series.
As the ninth century wanes, England appears about to be plunged into chaos once more. For the Viking-raised but Saxon-born warrior, Uhtred, whose life seems to shadow the making of England, this presents him with difficult choices.
King Alfred is dying and his passing threatens the island of Britain to renewed warfare. Alfred wants his son, Edward, to succeed him but there are other Saxon claimants to the throne as well as ambitious pagan Vikings to the north.
Uhtred's loyalty, and his vows, were to Alfred, not to his son, and despite his long years of service to Alfred, he is still not committed to the Saxon cause. His own desire is to reclaim his long lost lands and castle to the north Babbanburg Castle (Bamburgh Castle).
Bamburgh (Babbanburg) Castle
But the challenge to Uhtred, as the king's warrior, is that he knows that he will either be the means of making Alfred's dream of a united and Christian England come to pass or be responsible for condemning it to oblivion.
The Death Of Kings is an outstanding book written by an author at the peak of his powers. Beautifully and fully researched and written with an engaging fluency in a style that mimics Middle English while retaining absolute clarity, the series, which is still not finished is a popular, slightly fictionalised version of a little-known time in England's history.
Uhtred is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, and is an ancestor of Bernard Cornwell, but the Uhtred of the books is a composite figure. But we, the readers, care no less for him for all that.
I find that whenever I read a new episode in the series I want to read them all again in order until and including the newest installment for the sheer pleasure of it.