Lords of the North (Last Kingdom Series #3) (Saxon Tales)

Lords of the North (Last Kingdom Series #3) (Saxon Tales)

by Bernard Cornwell


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The third installment of Bernard Cornwell’s New York Times bestselling series chronicling the epic saga of the making of England, “like Game of Thrones, but real” (The Observer, London)—the basis for The Last Kingdom, the hit television series.

The year is 878. Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a Northumbrian lord, has helped the Saxons of Wessex defeat the invading Danes. Now, finally free of his allegiance to the victorious, ungrateful King Alfred, he is heading home to rescue his stepsister, a prisoner of Kjartan the Cruel in the formidable Danish stronghold of Dunholm. Uhtred’s best hope is his sword, Serpent-Breath, for his only allies are Hild, a West Saxon nun fleeing her calling, and Guthred, a slave who believes himself king. Rebellion, chaos, fear, and betrayal await them in the north, forcing Uhtred to turn once more, reluctantly, to the liege he formerly served in battle and blood: Alfred the Great.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061149047
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/02/2008
Series: Last Kingdom (Saxon Tales) Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 42,924
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

BERNARD CORNWELL is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales series, which includes The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, and, most recently, The Empty Throne and Warriors of the Storm, and which serves as the basis for the hit television series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.

Read an Excerpt

Lords of the North

Chapter One

Thorkild let the boat drift downstream a hundred paces, then rammed her bows into the bank close to a willow. He jumped ashore, tied a sealhide line to tether the boat to the willow's trunk, and then, with a fearful glance at the armed men watching from higher up the bank, scrambled hurriedly back on board. "You," he pointed at me, "find out what's happening."

"Trouble's happening," I said. "You need to know more?"

"I need to know what's happened to my storehouse," he said, then nodded toward the armed men, "and I don't want to ask them. So you can instead."

He chose me because I was a warrior and because, if I died, he would not grieve. Most of his oarsmen were capable of fighting, but he avoided combat whenever he could because bloodshed and trading were bad partners. The armed men were advancing down the bank now. There were six of them, but they approached very hesitantly, for Thorkild had twice their number in his ship's bows and all those seamen were armed with axes and spears.

I pulled my mail over my head, unwrapped the glorious wolf-crested helmet I had captured from a Danish boat off the Welsh coast, buckled on Serpent-Breath and Wasp-Sting and, thus dressed for war, jumped clumsily ashore. I slipped on the steep bank, clutched at nettles for support and then, cursing because of the stings, clambered up to the path. I had been here before, for this was the wide riverside pasture where my father had led the attack on Eoferwic. I pulled on the helmet and shouted at Thorkild to throw me my shield. He did and, just as I was about to start walking toward the six men who were now standing andwatching me with swords in their hands, Hild jumped after me. "You should have stayed on the boat," I told her.

"Not without you," she said. She was carrying our one leather bag in which was little more than a change of clothes, a knife and a whetstone. "Who are they?" she asked, meaning the six men who were still fifty paces away and in no hurry to close the distance.

"Let's find out," I said, and drew Serpent-Breath.

The shadows were long and the smoke of the city's cooking fires was purple and gold in the twilight. Rooks flew toward their nests and in the distance I could see cows going to their evening milking. I walked toward the six men. I was in mail, I had a shield and two swords, I wore arm rings and a helmet that was worth the value of three fine mail coats and my appearance checked the six men, who huddled together and waited for me. They all had drawn swords, but I saw that two of them had crucifixes about their necks and that made me suppose they were Saxons. "When a man comes home," I called to them in English, "he does not expect to be met by swords."

Two of them were older men, perhaps in their thirties, both of them thick-bearded and wearing mail. The other four were in leather coats and were younger, just seventeen or eighteen, and the blades in their hands looked as unfamiliar to them as a plow handle would to me. They must have assumed I was a Dane because I had come from a Danish ship and they must have known that six of them could kill one Dane, but they also knew that one war-Dane, dressed in battle-splendor, was likely to kill at least two of them before he died and so they were relieved when I spoke to them in English. They were also puzzled. "Who are you?" one of the older men called.

I did not answer, but just kept walking toward them. If they had decided to attack me then I would have been forced to flee ignominiously or else die, but I walked confidently, my shield held low and with Serpent-Breath's tip brushing the long grass. They took my reluctance to answer for arrogance, when in truth it was confusion. I had thought to call myself by any name other than my own, for I did not want Kjartan or my traitorous uncle to know I had returned to Northumbria, but my name was also one to be reckoned with and I was foolishly tempted to use it to awe them, but inspiration came just in time. "I am Steapa of Defnascir," I announced, and just in case Steapa's name was unknown in Northumbria, I added a boast. "I am the man who put Svein of the White Horse into his long home in the earth."

The man who had demanded my name stepped a pace backward. "You are Steapa? The one who serves Alfred?"

"I am."

"Lord," he said, and lowered his blade. One of the younger men touched his crucifix and dropped to a knee. A third man sheathed his sword and the others, deciding that was prudent, did the same.

"Who are you?" I demanded.

"We serve King Egbert," one of the older men said.

"And the dead?" I asked, gesturing toward the river where another naked corpse circled slow in the current, "who are they?"

"Danes, lord."

"You're killing Danes?"

"It's God's will, lord," he said.

I gestured toward Thorkild's ship. "That man is a Dane and he is also a friend. Will you kill him?"

"We know Thorkild, lord," the man said, "and if he comes in peace he will live."

"And me?" I demanded, "what would you do with me?"

"The king would see you, lord. He would honor you for the great slaughter of the Danes."

"This slaughter?" I asked scornfully, pointing Serpent-Breath toward a corpse floating downriver.

"He would honor the victory over Guthrum, lord. Is it true?"

"It is true," I said, "I was there." I turned then, sheathed Serpent-Breath, and beckoned to Thorkild who untied his ship and rowed it upstream. I shouted to him across the water, telling him that Egbert's Saxons had risen against the Danes, but that these men promised they would leave him in peace if he came in friendship.

Lords of the North. Copyright © by Bernard Cornwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Lords of the North 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 155 reviews.
JR86 More than 1 year ago
Lords of the North is Book Three in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales series. The series tells of the adventures of Uhtred, the Saxon boy raised among the Danes, who later must make his way in and out of both worlds. Uhtred is an interesting character caught up in the swirl of events as the Saxons and the Danes struggle for supremacy in eastern England at the time of Alfred the Great. Cornwell does a great job of incorporating actual events, with poetic license as to his characters. The book and the series are not just dry recitations of what happened in the 900s in England, but exciting tales of battles and campaigns.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Lords of The North by Bernard Cornwell Book 3 in The Saxon Tales The third installment of the Saxon Tales opens up in the year of our lord 878 and Alfred has just defeated the Danes at Ethandum. The story is, once again, narrated by Uhtred of Bebbanburg, who is released from Alfred's service after the victory and Uhtred decides to go north to Northumbria, where Uhtred is originally from. He travels with Hild, a nun he rescued from the Danes, and who is now his lover. They encounter their archenemy, Sven, son of Kjartan, who killed Lord Ragnar the elder, Uhtred's father figure. Uhtred has sworn to kill both Sven and Kjartan. He goes north escorting Thorkild, a merchant who is fleeing to Northumbria and on the way, they rescue Guthred, son of Hardicnut - king of Northumbria - from Sven's slavery. Uhtred helps the king regain his throne - as abbot Eafred had dreamt that St. Cuthbert ordered him to save Guthred; for he was to lead the Christians to victory in Northumbria. However, Guhthed sells Uhtred into slavery and promises his sister, Gisela to Uhtred's uncle, Lord Aelfric - a man who wanted Uhtred dead so he could claim Bebbanburg as his own. So Uhtred spends two years as a a slave in The Trader, Sverri's ship. He's rescued by The Red Ship (Dragon Fire) commanded by Ragnar the Younger - Uhtred's blood brother. Together, Ragnar, Uhtred, and Steappa must then help Guthred regain Northumbria, defeat Kjartan and Ivarr - the two Danes of power in Northumbria. The book ends as both Dane captains are defeated and Guthred is back in Dunholm - leaving Uhtred's final revenge against his uncle in Bebbanburg for the next volume. The book is well written and is an easy read. However, I would have preferred that Mr. Cornwell would just write one big book rather than several volumes, because he keeps referring to earlier parts of the story to make the book stand alone on itself - and it gets boring after a while.....
Lilo02 More than 1 year ago
I was told that Lords of the North (book 3 of the Saxon Tales) was very dry and that I most likely will not like it. I can honestly say that was not confirmed. I absolutely LOVED this one. All the action settles down for a bit comparative to The Pale Horseman where there was more battle type action that kind of dried out the end a bit. But this book was very much about Uhtreds breaking point when the new Northumbrian King Guthred sell him into slavery. Or was it his breaking point? The same old Uhtred is rescued out of slavery and joins Ragnar the elder's son whose name is Ragnar as well, and they both avenge their enemies Kjartan the cruel and his son Sven the One-eyed who raped Ragnar's sister Thyra. Ivar the feeble also meets his demise and Uhtred lets him die with respect and dignity. Putting his sword in his hand so he could go to meet Thor in his Corpse Hall. The book ends very well with Uhtred and his new wife Gisela riding south to finish Alfred's oath.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Lords Of The North is an absolutely incredible book, Bernard Cornwall does an amazing job of making the book come alive, there is not a single bad thing I can say about this book, or any of the books in the series, except maybe that they are not movies as well. This book, and the others in the series are must reads for anyone who is into historical fiction or the medieval/dark ages time periods. As with the other books in the series religion is a major theme, both Christianity and paganism in the form of the old Norse gods play major roles in the book, influencing Uhtreds actions as he journey from the south in wessex ever farther north to his ancestral home of Bebbanburg, and back again, more prevailing themes are obliviously revenge and war as in the other books in the series, these books just wouldn't be complete without the good old fashioned Viking slaughter that Uhtred feels so at home at. Two thumbs way up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Uhtred finally became the “super hero” that one imagines themself to be when reading one of these historical adventures. A better page turner than the previous one. One can hardly imagine the suffering of slavery, and the elation of revenge! (I’m still ashamed of Christianity’s history)
Harrod on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yet another gift from Cornwell ! Splendid, enjoyable, bloody fun!
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Third in the Saxon Tales series.In 878, Uhtred the dispossessed heir of Bebbbanberg, has been rewarded by Alfred, King of Wessex, for Uhtred¿s critical role in winning the battle of Ethandun against a Danish army--with a miserable little holding that was barely able to support the three slave families that worked it. Alfred is by nature a miser and his dislike of Uhtred, who refuses to become a Christian, only adds to the insult.Uhtred has had enough of Alfred whom he deems overly pious as well as an ingrate. With Hild, the ex-nun he rescued who is now his friend and lover, he buries his hoard, keeping enough only to travel, and sets out for Northumbria, where he has major grudges to settle: with his uncle, who usurped Bebbbanberg and with Kjartan and his son Sven, who murdered Uhtred¿s foster father, Ragnar.This is another great tale from Cornwell, who knows how to plot as well as how to write terrific battle scenes. He uses what is known about 9th century England and Alfred the Great to weave a totally realistic plot with believable characters. It¿s a real page-turner; while I was racing through the book, eager to find out what happened next (and there are quite a few twists in this one), I also was reluctant to have it end. Cornwell is one master storyteller.Highly recommended.
Alexander270767 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read the book in German, as I am from Germany. I like the book very much. I can recommend the whole Saxon Chronicle and I am looking forward to the fifth part which will come out in Sep/Oct this year.
BenjaminHahn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The third in Cornwell's Saxon Tales series. Uhtred is back with a vengeance and there is much blood letting. I think I have enjoyed this volume more than the first two. Cornwell seems a bit more free with Uhtred's adventures. Things get a bit weird, and it makes the story a bit spicier. I especially got a tickle out of Uhtred's little side trip to Iceland. I'm interested to see what happens in the next one. Somehow I have a hunch that Uhtred is going to screwed over by Alfred again. I really have to read up on Alfred. I can't believe he was such a pansy.
soliloquies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first Bernard Cornwall book I have read and it was a good one, although this is the third in a series I was able to make sense of what had previously happened. It had a very readable style, which made reading it very quick. I loved the historical details about York and Durham and how he weaved in details about St Cuthbert and holy relics. Enjoyable.
petermcgurk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and about what I was expecting.
adamvasco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
2nd of a good Trilogy. Good action writing
hashiru on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first novel I read by Bernard Cornwell was "Sharpe's Rifles" and what impressed me the most was the way he never let you have a moment's rest. The action was non-stop, you were afraid to keep reading and you were afraid to stop. It was the kind of writing that copy-writers glibly refer to as "pulse pounding action."Since then I've read 18 more Sharpe novels as well as 12 others by Cornwell, the current one included. This is the third in the series collectively known as the Saxon Tales and it bids to equal the Sharpe novels in quality and perhaps in quantity as well if Cornwell keeps at it long enough. The series, as did the Sharpe series, features a first person protagonist. The narrator is Uhtred, born a Briton but raised by Ragnar a Dane, after Ragnar kills Uhtred's father in battle and is impressed by the boy Uhtred's spunk when he tried to kill Ragnar in turn. Uhtred comes to love Ragnar and is schooled in the arts of the Warrior, eventually himself becoming one."Lords of the North" is the third in the series, and while it starts out a bit slow and a bit confusing (maybe because I waited such a long time after reading the first two to read this one), but peaks in a long and literally pulse-pounding climax. I had a roommate in graduate school who described the novels of another writer, Alistair MacLean by saying that "the lead changes hands at least three more times than you expect it to." Fits the current novel to a T, and if anything understates the case.The series in general is instructive as well as enjoyable. Herein we learn about English history pre A.D. 1000 including the Vikings, the Danes, the Britons, the Saxons, et. al. We gain insight into the Northerners' raids on the British Isles and their ambitions to conquer and enslave the entire realm. We learn about the warfare of the time including axes and swords, of course, but also the grand concept of "the Shield wall." Cornwell's depictions are visceral and graphic. We also encounter and learn about that notorious figure Alfred the Great. Uhtred's fate is inexorably bound to the latter in ways that Uhtred finds unavoidable.Five stars is more than deserved.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lords of the North is the third book in the Saxon Stories and Cornwell promises that more - perhaps many more - are in the offing. As is almost obligatory, let me acknowldge that I am a big Cornwell fan - I've read many of the Sharpe books, part of the Grail series and all three of the Saxon Stories. The Lords of the North picks up right after Alfred's historic victory at Ethandun (or Edington) in 878 CE and continues the tale of Uhtred, a man stuck between the worlds of Saxon and Dane. Uthred returns to the north as he begins what will apparently be a multi-volume quest to reclaim his title as Lord of Bettanburg. Unfortunately, the historical record for Northumbria at this time is extremely sparse and confused. Consequently, Lords of the North is more fictional and less historical than the previous two books. I frankly found the book fell somewhat short of my admittedly high expectations. The atmosphere of the tale seemingly has historical authenticity, but the ending is rushed and struck me as implausible. After a long struggle to overcome one of their major antagonists, Uthred and Ragnar dispense with another one in one brief encounter. A good tale and fans of Cornwell will enjoy it, but in parts it felt like a book that simply bridges the gap from one part of the story to the next. The good news is that Uhtred lives into his 80's, so many more tales remain - let's just hope that doesn't become the bad news, too. Recommended.
BruderBane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bernard Cornwell¿s oeuvre has the panache for interpreting war with all its savageries and triumphs. His storytelling is so raw that I have found myself at times vividly remembering his tales with such precision, that I thought I saw them at the theater instead of having read them. And once again true to Mr. Cornwell¿s style, the insults are utterly fantastic, ¿When you are dead¿I shall have your skin tanned and made into a saddle so I can spend the rest of my life farting on you.¿ All this and packs of wild dogs, it doesn¿t get any better than this people.
ChrisWise on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just a modest correction to previous review. This is the third in the series. And it looks like there's more to come.
john257hopper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
More of the same really. The pace moves along quite quickly and this passes the time when one wants a less demanding read. But Uhtred is for me as unsympathetic a character as ever, going around the country slaughtering everyone who stands in his way. The broad historical backdrop and background to Alfred and the Vikings are what keep me reading and what will undoubtedly make me read Sword Song when it comes out in paperback.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. The author brings the history alive through a fictional character who could have realistically existed. A character who brings both the Saxon and Danish perspectives.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read of England's (the United Kingdom's ) birth & the struggles to secure it from the Danish
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bernard Cornwell is the master of historical fiction and Uhtred is the viking we've always imagined
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves stories of epic battles and the ninth century. It's by far one of my favorites.
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