Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bernard Cornwell and Saxon England

For a summer reading escape, Bernard Cornwell has written a series of novels on Saxon England. There are currently four novels in the series:

- The Last Kingdom
- The Pale Horseman
- The Lords of the North
- Sword Song
- A fifth, The Burning Land, is coming later in 2009

He gives the reader an insight into England during the second half of the 9th century when Danes were dominating and the Saxons struggling for a footing and resurgence. The main fictional character, Uhtred, is of Saxon lineage but culturally more Danish. His character brings to light some of the conditions, culture and political issues of the era. It also gives some insight into King Alfred the Great, a character throughout the novels. Cornwell does a good job showing how different two people of nobility could be, though both Saxons.

Religion plays a big role in the novels. But the thing that infatuated me is the binding power of a verbal oath. This theme resonates throughout the series.

If you are interested in English history, this is a great series. Gripping for the most part. Start with the The Last Kingdom; don't start with one of the other books, you'll miss some key plot items.

No comments: