‘Warriors of the Storm’ is the 9th novel in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories series featuring Uhtred of Bebbanburg and bringing to life the history of the creation of England around the 10th century.
After finding the previous novel in the series ‘The Empty Throne’ a bit lacking (by Cornwell’s normal standard), this one was a return to the Cornwell that I enjoy.
The Irish are getting sick of the territory hungry Norsemen, so the Norse Warlord Ragnall Iverson has returned to Britain. He takes his band of warriors up the Mersey at night and sets up camp at an old hill fort near Chester where Uhtred is based.
But what is his plan? He is near the border between Northumbria and Mercia. With Aethelflaed (the ruler of Mercia) recently arrived in Chester, she and Uhtred fear an attack.
Uhtred’s biggest concern is that Ragnall’s brother, who is married to Uhtred’s daughter, is also involved in the attack.
The story has Ragnall rampaging around Britain, burning, raping and pillaging with his followers held to him by fear of the consequences of deserting him. Pretty soon he joins forces with Uhtred’s childhood sweetheart Brida who has turned into a vicious old hag.
But Uhtred knows that a real leader needs more than fear to keep his fighters loyal and he find ways to use this against Ragnall.
There are some excellent fight scenes in this book as Uhtred defies Aethelflaed and brings his family back together, fight against his enemies in Ireland, Northumbria and Mercia.
For a good guy, Uhtred is pretty vicious and has no trouble using the same tactics as his enemies – selling children as slaves, giving enemy women to his men and cutting off the sword hand of enemy warriors.
By the end of the story we are another step closer to a united England and Uhtred feels that he is another step closer to regaining Bebbanburg.
This was a fast moving, action packed novel. The overall direction of the series was evident throughout.
This novel would work well as a standalone novel, but the power is magnified as part of the series. It is much easier to understand Uhtred knowing his back story. Finan played a huge part in this story and I enjoyed finding out about him.
I can hardly wait for the next novel in the series ‘The Flame Bearer‘.
Book published 2015