The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell

The Empty Throne

Reviewed by Teri Davis

“Leave one alive, that had been my father’s advice. Let one man take the bad news home to frighten the others,…which meant the survivor, if there was one, would take the news of defeat to widows and orphans.”

This was the belief of many fighters of numerous battles throughout history. Always leave one person alive, usually a youngster, to deliver the news to the towns and families about the fates of their loved ones. Considering the limits of communication back in the years prior to the 1900s, this appeared to be a common practice throughout much of European history.

In the land that would become England in the years of 900 A.D. the constant battles between the Vikings and the Saxons proved that life was still unsettled. Besides heritage there were also changes in religion with most people either following the gods of the Norse or the new beliefs of Christianity. Between the regions of Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia, and Northumbria there were constantly disagreements but there is now a possible hope of becoming a unified country since AEthelred, the ruler of Mercia, had died without a legitimate heir.

The obvious successor would be the West Saxon king. However, AEthelred’s
widow, AEthelflaed was loved by the people of Mercia, but not her husband.
She followed her own path as a warrior and also possibly had her own lover
while frequently in disagreements with her husband. Could a female succeed
in uniting this land?

*The Empty Throne *opens with Uhtred who was called Osbert, the son of Uhtred, the lord in *The Pagan Lord.* So now the son is in charge of a war party with many men who had served his father. Lord Uhtred is not fighting but becoming an aging warrior who is slowly healing from numerous old wounds. Uhtred has devised a strategy for capturing a large group of Norsemen. Through cunning, scheming, misdirection, and the firm belief of doing what he believes is right, they look forward to the day when this land in no longer plagued by these Northern invaders.

Bernard Cornwell places the reader directly in the middle of the battles. With Uhthred whose brother was disowned in the previous novel for becoming a Christian priest and his father, Lord Uhthread, Cornwell masterfully writes a tale based on the actual recorded history of these events. With names that are not commonly known, this novel is action-adventure at its best turning history into a readable page turner.

*The Empty Throne* is the eighth book in Bernard Cornwell’s *Saxon Tales* following *The Pagan Lord*. I strongly feel that this particular novel would be difficult to understand without reading the previous installment.

Click Here to Purchase The Empty Throne: A Novel (Saxon Tales)

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