Lords of the North, book three in the Saxon series by Bernard Cornwell was full of vintage Cornwellian storytelling devices. Notably, the protagonist, Uhtred of Bembanburg makes a series of plot complicating bad choices, always involving his pride and murder. At first, I was delighted to find some respite from the really unlikable characteristics of Uhtred. The first part of the book focuses on more of the reasons I like Uhtred; his strength, loyalty, outspokenness, and his continuing quest to reclaim his home.
Now that was exciting. As much as I enjoyed the first two books, I have been chomping at the bit to see Uhtred face his treacherous uncle and reclaim Bembanburg.
But then he committed one of his other frequent failings. He embraced stupidity and was cast into slavery for his lack of foresight. Nothing about the slavery ordeal or the eventual (rather long) action sequence at the end of the book was original. It was however, well written and the narrator, Tom Sellwood, did a really good job.
I would give this a 4.5 star rating, instead of a 5 like the first two books in the Saxon series. I ranked The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman high because the were very powerful and emotionally engaging even when I wanted to turn away from the protagonist. Lords of the North was easier to listen to, but not as good on a technical level.
Next month, when I have some new audiobook credits to spend, I will be looking forward to Sword Song. That will be about halfway through the Saxon series and I will decide if I plan to continue to the end. I kind of think so, but lately I have realized there is only so much time and if a book or book series isn't awesome, I am inclined to shop around.
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