The Flame Bearer

Written by Bernard Cornwell
Review by Justin M. Lindsay

Though a fragile peace exists between the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Britain and the last Norse-held kingdom of Northumbria, Uhtred begins his campaign to reclaim his ancestral lands of Bebbanburg. Uhtred hasn’t seen the inside of Bebbanburg since childhood, but he knows it is a mighty fortress. To further complicate the matter, he must grapple not only with his cousin’s forces inside, but also with Northman mercenaries, the nobles in the Mercian court, the needs of his son-in-law, King Sigtryggr, and the power play of the Scottish king to the north. Though his forces are small, and his timing and scheming must be just right, Uhtred hopes that his desperate bid will see him once again as master of Bebbanburg.

Having long been a fan of Cornwell, and a follower of this particular series from the beginning, this reader’s expectations for this book were met and exceeded. Uhtred may have grown old, but he is still the lethal, decisive, and vigorous warrior and leader of men we’ve come to know and love. Add to that the cast of characters that have become some of his closest companions and his fiercest rivals, and we have a fantastic story. As always, Cornwell sets the reader deep inside 10th-century England, without a whiff of modernity or a nod to current sensibilities. The world, people, and events are rich and alive. Highly recommended.