BOOK REVIEW: The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell

Posted on December 6, 2014


first published at A Writer Goes On A Journey

empty throneThe Empty Throne

Bernard Cornwell

The Warrior Chronicles 8

Harper Collins



One of the great things about reviewing books is being given books to read. I rarely have to buy books any longer unless it is something for a particular purpose or it is an author that I love to read and know I shall be sure to be re-reading the book more than once. And Bernard Cornwell is very much in the latter – reading Cornwell’s historical fiction is a real delight.

The Warrior Chronicles is set in late-eighth, early-ninth century Britain, following the journey of the Saxon, Uhtred. Earlier novels in the series saw Uhtred, the boy, thrown out of his family fastness, the Bebbanburg Castle in Northumberland, captured by the Danish where he comes to follow the old gods rather than that of the Christians. Yet he finds himself in Saxon Britain, usually fighting against the Danes and Norse, on behalf of Saxon Britain yet still being a pagan, he is largely despised. In The Empty Throne, we see an older Uhtred, still yet to recover from a near-fatal injury, facing more turbulent times and intrigue that see him doing what he does best – leading a warband.

Like Cornwell’s other historical works, the sense of historical place and times comes through well, clearly well researched. And the main characters continue to be well developed. Uhtred himself is not just getting older, he is responding further to his times and circumstances, making him an even harder man, more brutal, swift and deadly in action despite his severe injury although he finds himself at times out of the direct fighting.

Uhtred’s children have not featured a great deal until the last novel where we saw his eldest son disowned for becoming a priest, the second son becoming a warrior alongside his father. That son, also Uhtred, takes an important part in this novel but we also see an intriguing role for his daughter, Stiorra. And there is the continuing role of Aethelfaed, daughter of the deceased King Alfred, wife of Uhtred’s despised cousin, Aethelred, Uhtred’s sometime lover, who has also developed further as character in relation to her specific circumstances.

Like his other works, The Empty Throne is a cracking good historical fiction.


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