War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) By Bernard Cornwell

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The No.1 Sunday Times bestseller and the epic conclusion to the globally bestselling historical series.

A divided kingdom

An impossible choice

The ultimate battle.

After a lifetime of fighting, the great warrior Lord Uhtred is ready to hang up his sword. But as long as the kingdom remains divided, peace is fragile – and Uhtred will never be safe in his Northumbrian fortress.
As kings in the north and south grow bloodthirsty for power, history marches inexorably towards war. And Uhtred has no choice but to throw himself into the fire.
In the most terrible battle Britain has ever experienced, with the kingdom’s future resting on a knife edge, Uhtred takes his stand on one side of the shield wall. Only fate will decide the outcome…‘Nobody in the world does this better than Cornwell’ LEE CHILDWar Lord is the epic conclusion to the globally bestselling Last Kingdom series. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series)

I must say I was saddened to see this was the last installment of the Saxon Tales. It has been a sincere pleasure to read this series and I found myself eagerly anticipating each new book. It was a pleasure to follow Uhtred's story. But with three of my ancestors hailing from Southern England, and one from Scotland, I was grateful to have learned so much about what made the island special. Thank you. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) As historical fiction series go, Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales has in my view been one of the best, and I'm sorry I can't cheer lustily for the final entry. The sad fact is that in order to take the series from its starting point to the point at which Cornwell wanted to end it, Cornwell had to endow both Uhtred and Finan with superhuman powers. Both characters are approximately eighty years old when they fight the climactic Battle of Brunanburh in 937. They don't sit on their horses behind the lines directing the troops, which would have been believable. No, Cornwell has to have Finan defeat a much younger, stronger man in single combat, while he puts Uhtred eighty year old Uhtred in the front rank of the shield wall, from where he kills any number of younger, bigger, stronger men. Oh, and for no good reason, a wonderful character from the first books, Steapa Snotor, returns. He's also about eighty, and leads the Saxon cavalry in a charge at the climactic moment of the battle. Eighty years old, and fighting with a sword from horseback. Come on, this is just silly.

Cornwell knows what he's done, and offers a half hearted acknowledgement in the notes at the end of the book, comparing Uhtred to Beowulf, who was also at an advanced age when he killed a dragon.

As for the body of the book, it repeats themes that have by now become overused: Uhtred's loyalty is torn between kings; Uhtred thinks he might be fighting on the wrong side; Uhtred leads his men across bleak landscapes palled by smoke as war rages. We've been here before, many times. The well has run dry.

I love historical fiction and have nothing but admiration for Mr. Cornwell. I'm sorry the TV series didn't do a better job of bringing the books to life, but I hope Cornwell made tons of money off of it. But Uhtred, like Muhammad Ali, came out of retirement one too many times for me.

That said, I am waiting with bated breath to see what Mr. Cornwell will start next. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) I’ve been waiting for Cornwell to tie up this series for three or four stories, but see now why he kept it going. The story of Uhtred neatly brackets the unification of England, from Alfred’s time to that of his grandson Aethelstan, who wins a major victory bringing the four kingdoms south of Scotland for the first time under one crown.

Yes, yes, he made Uhtred live an awfully long time, an adult warriorhood lasting from first distinguishing himself with Alfred in the swamps of Somerset (878) to this battle (937). Sixty years is a long time to be swinging a sword and standing in the shield wall, which he does one time here. But we can allow Cornwell this artistic license.

Uhtred spent most of the series, and his life, trying to regain his rightful title, lands and stronghold at Bebbanburg. He’s finally got it, but now must defend it. It’s part of Northumbria, a smaller, weaker kingdom sandwiched between Scotland and what’s just now becoming ‘Englaland’.

Both monarchs eye its lands, particularly as it’s got a very weak monarch, and both particularly want Uhtred’s nearly impregnable fortress of Bebbanburg, on the North Sea coast just south of Scotland. Both the Sccttish king Constantine and Aethelstan, king of Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia, come to Uhtred with carrots and sticks, proposed alliances and demands that he submit. Uhtred fears that no matter who he sides with, they’ll depose him and put a loyalist in his castle.

Aethelstan proposes a particularly sweet deal, offering him rich lands in the kingdom’s south in exchange for Bebbanburg. Uhtred has no intention of yielding his ancestral lands, but faces wars he can’t win from either side should it come to that.

So, one time, Uhtred rides, trying to glean the motives and plans of his rivals, and contemplating fate as he picks his way through increasingly murky events. He’s never, of course, a passive onlooker. He’s still the trickster, still the warrior and fearsome adversary.

Cornwell builds toward the climactic battle of Brunanburh, one he notes in an afterword has been too little appreciated for its historic importance. For a long time scholars couldn’t even decide what part of England it was fought in, but recent archaeological finds locate it near the western coast, and that’s where Cornwell puts it. His battle scenes are, as ever, so clearly recounted you can visualize them; they never get lost in the fog of war.

I’ll miss Uhtred. The Saxon Tales rank second in Cornwell’s work to the Sharpe stories, but Uhtred is fun than Sharpe. Sharpe is a British soldier during the Napoleonic wars. Uhtred is a Saxon but essentially a Viking, raised by the Vikings after his father is killed by them, partaking in their religion and life philosophy, and warring and carousing just like them as he lives and battles his way towards Valhalla. Vikings have fun, say, than those adhering to the Christians’ ‘nailed god.’

Uhtred is his own man, never so than in this final story, where he defies kings again and again in pursuit of his destiny. Yes, it’s than time for him to retire, but Cornwell has him go out in style. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) Loved this series, I don’t want it to end but all good things as they say, throughly enjoyed this better than GoT. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) I don't do synopses and I'm not a fan of spoilers so I don't do them. You should take the time and enjoy this book. If you aren't starting at the beginning, you're lucky because you should go straight to book 1 and begin there instead for hours of enjoyable entertainment. Every Cornwell book I've read, and I guess that's than 30, has been enjoyable and entertaining. War Lord is no different. Uhtred has been around the block by now and he gets aches and pains but he's still a warrior right to the end of the series. Cornwell has left nothing undone in the series. All the plot lines get wrapped up in interesting ways. War Lord, like all the other books in the series is a page turner. Not only do you get action, you get hearts and minds, you get vivid description of the time and place. You get fears and concerns along with joy and disappointment. This is a very well written book that I totally connected with. I highly recommend the book and the entire series. Go ahead, read it. I don't think you'll regret it. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series)


As you would expect from probably one of the best historical novelists writing a visceral tale which concludes our hero Uhtred's saga. And what a saga it has been.
I have loved this series. Thank you for many hours of pleasure in their reading. Thank you for the knowledge of Anglo Saxon Britain. Thank you for the recommendation of Michael Livingstone's book on this battle ( a great and informative read). Thank you for a great tv series.
I will miss Uhtred and his band of warriors but look forward to further tales and perhaps a new hero with a saga to be told. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) As virtually anyone in the UK about what happened in 1066, and they will tell you about battle of Hastings, William the conqueror, and Harald with an arrow in his eye. Ask the same question about 937 AD and the battle of Brunanburgh, and few would be able to provide any information. Nor would they be able to give any details of King Athlestan, his father King Edward, and apart from the inability to bake cakes, nor could they answer much about King Alfred

Which in some ways extraordinary since without these characters and that battle, there would of been no England for William and Harald to fight over. This then is culmination of the story of Uthred, a warrior whose arc joins these historical characters together and bring to life the extraordinary events that fought off a viking invasion and in doing so joined the Saxon kingdoms into one called England.

As usual, Bernard Cornwell does a fantastic job of bringing an era, which has little in the way of literary evidence to life. In doing so he provides a great insight into not only an important part of a forgotten history, but into a way of life. He himself will admit that in places historical accuracy has to take a back seat to the story, but generally reading these books you will get not only a fantastic adventure story, but a history education. If only mainstream history books were as entertaining.

The story itself is set with Uthred as lord of Bebbenburg (Modern day Bamburgh) , caught between 3 great powers. King Athelstan, who is slowly strengthening his grip his grip on England, Constantine of Scotland who ambitions were South and the desire to curb Athelstan's power, and the Olaf Guthfrithson, a nordic warlord from Ireland. The story revolves about his desire to maintain his kingdom, and in doing so leads us to the events that led to one of England's defining battles, Brunanburgh. In truth, it was clear some books back that this would be the final destination, but how the story would end up at this point has been fascinating. As the books says “Wyrd bið ful āræd'. Fate is inexorable.”

We also get reintroduced to some of the characters from the previous book. Steapa, Alfred's ferocious champion, King Hywell of Wales and Uthred's estranged elder son, who joined the priesthood, rather than become a warrior.

We also get to travel to the Northern isles and visit the Norse outposts of Orkneys

As usual the battle itself is wonderfully described defining the terror and viciousness of fighting at this time, with men lined ins shield wall in which close quarter battle is held.

Being the last book of the series, this not maybe the one to start with, relying a lot on knowledge of what has gone before, but I can not recommend the books highly enough. If nothing else, it has given me a greater understanding of Saxon History and how we came to be. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) Look, if you're reading the 13th book in a series you already know if you like this stuff or you don't. The usual crowd are here, the usual ploys and clever tactical decisions are here, the shield walls are here, and Uhtred is here.

That's it. That's all you need to know. It's as good as anything else in the series and Cornwell sticks the landing. Now go read it.

And if you haven't read the preceding dozen books, but think it might be your sort of thing, go and start at the beginning. You'll thank me for it. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) I read this in two sittings and the final tale did not disappoint. The story line galloping to a crescendo that left Uhtred on the winning side.

I am so happy that I did not read of Uhtred or Finnan’s death in this last instalment. I guess it would have been easy to kill them off at the end but they both deserved better than that.

Thank you for your story telling Bernard I have enjoyed the ride. War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series) Which I can't find any means of contacting, at least if I want to speak to a live person.

I pre ordered this book in early September after being sent an email from informing me of its forthcoming publication. The selling point for me was the following text (which is still included in the item description):

Featuring a gold foil designed case – limited to the first print run.

The book I received today, the day of release (with the number 1 in the indicia, indicating first printing) is simply the standard edition. I doubt any employee will read this, but all I can say to anyone expecting to receive the edition advertised is: you'll be lucky.

I can't return the book because you need to print the label. Lacking a device capable of receiving this I see no option but to keep it, and my only apparent means of informing of the issue at least notionally is to post his review of a book I haven't read. They don't make things easy, do they? War Lord: Book 13 (The Last Kingdom Series)