The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell

The eighth book in Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Tales series is The Empty Throne. It is as good as the previous seven books in the series.

Here is a brief summary of the book from the author’s website:

The forces of Wessex and Mercia have united against the Danes, but instability and the threat of Viking raids still hang heavy over Britain’s kingdoms. For Aethelred, Lord of the Mercians, is dying, leaving no heir and the stage is set for rivals to fight for the throne.

Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Mercia’s greatest warrior, has always supported Athelflaed to be Mercia’s next ruler, but will the aristocracy ever accept a woman as their leader? Even one who is Aethelred’s widow and sister to the king of Wessex? As the Mercians squabble and the West Saxons try to annex their country, new enemies appear on the northern frontier. The Saxons desperately need strong leadership, but instead they are fighting for an empty throne and threatening to undo the unity and strength they have fought so hard to achieve.

I love these books. I cannot say enough about Cornwell’s excellent storytelling and writing – I know I am getting redundant with the posts. He brings the characters to life in the reader’s mind. His descriptions of the characters, events, and era are wonderful.

The plot keeps the reader guessing on which way the story is going. The different characters are easy to like and hate. The chaos of Saxon England at war is captured perfectly. In Cornwell’s portrayal, the politics of that era was as cutthroat as the politics of today (many of our politicians would feel right at home back then).

The Empty Throne is well-worth the read and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

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