Warriors of the Storm: A Novel (Saxon Tales) by Bernard Cornwell

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Warriors of the StormThere has been numerous books about Richard the Lionhearted and his mother, Queen Eleanor. However, the years before their reigns do not have the documents supporting the history. The basics have been recorded but not many accounts still exist showing the various perspectives. What about the time period just as England was becoming a country?

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Fortunately for most of us, Bernard Cornwell masterfully has researched this time period and has created a phenomenal saga in his Saxon stories.

As in many times throughout English history, the country was in constant civil war. Between the ever-invading Norsemen from Scandinavian lands searching for fertile lands to extend the future of their families and the Saxons who already ruling in the southern part of the island with a continual threat of the Irish and the rebellious Scots, peace is always short-lived.

The land in now known as England even though it was almost Daneland. That is being held together by a thread.

Uhtred is the main character in this Saxon series. He was born a Norseman of wealth and title. Throughout the years, he has won and lost many battles for those he love. Unlike the Saxons, he is not a Christian and believes in the gods of the Norse. Ironically he fights for the Saxons who are Christians. Uhtred has difficulty believing in their god.

For those who see this land as home, life is dangerous. Peace lasts only for short lengths of time.

King Alfred’s son, Edward and his daughter, Aethelflaed rule the kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia, and East Anglia. To keep these valuable lands, there is a constant battle from the Norsemen who are always threatening these lands.

Uhtred of Bebbanburg is beginning to feel the effects of aging. He dreams of regaining his homelands again but it appears that this is not to happen yet. He remains loyal Edward and Aethelflaed even if they believe different things and are different in many ways. For years, he has loved Aethelflaed.

Now Raynall Ivarson is invading these lands. To make life more interesting, Uhtred’s daughter is married to Raynall’s brother. So who are they loyal to? Will Uhtred be fighting his son-in-law?

Raynall’s forces are well-trained and equipped and looking forward to raiding these lands. Added to that the Irish have joined forces against Uhtred. Those defending this land are at a disadvantage. How can they possibly win?

Bernard Cornwell is a masterful author. This is the ninth book in this Saxon series. Throughout the books, Uhtred has mellowed and become more likeable and not as barbaric or arrogant. He has learned about life in these fictional accounts. Sometimes the reader can’t help but be repulsed by Uhtred, while evolving him through the numerous adventures, you actually begin to sympathize and even love him a little. I doubt that anyone living today would want to go back in time to actually meet this fictional character. This is a character that makes the reader love him while immediately afterward, you can’t stand him. The better you know him, the more you understand his motives, choices, and opportunities. He daily struggles with opposing loyalties, commitments, obligations, religion, personal values, and a challenging family.

Cornwell is outstanding at taking these little documented events and creating a vision explaining the history into a readable account. He fills in the blanks surrounded the documents into an engrossing tale of history.