New book alert!
The blurb on the back suggests these books are like Game of Thrones (or more accurately “A Song of Ice and Fire” because we should be comparing book series to book series and not book series to TV show) but I would disagree with that sentiment. These books are far more focused, have less than a million characters and aren’t filled with magic.
Not to mention (AHEM, George RR Martin) these books are actually published as scheduled.
These books follow Uhtred, born to the lord of Bebbanburg, in Northumbira, but captured by Vikings when he was young and raised as a Viking. As an adult, he fights for the Saxons against the Vikings but retains a Viking sensibility and a commitment to the Norse gods in direct conflict with the emerging power of the Christian faith.
In this book, Uhtred is getting older and is in command of Ceaster, a fortified burgh on the river. Holding the rivers protects the interior from Vikings coming from Ireland. The adjoining burgh, at the mouth of the river, has been breached and Ragnall has managed to bring an army of about a thousand men into England and are rebuilding an abandoned burgh nearby.
He doesn’t have the men to repel this invasion but he soon realizes that Ragnall isn’t really planning to take Mercia, at least not immediately, but rather is planning to take control of the unfocused Viking tribes in Northumbria and then lead a massive army down to take Merica. This is not ideal, obviously.
As an added complication, Ragnall’s brother is Uhtred’s son in law. Fortunately, the son in law is sitting this one out in Ireland, mostly because Ragnall would like to take all his land and also take Uhtred’s daughter as his fifth wife.
It’s up to Uhtred to figure out how to save his daughter from Ragnall’s siege, stop the invasion of the Viking army that vastly outnumbers him, and prevent the scourging of Mercia and Wessex.
Fortunately, Uhtred is clever and wiley and still a strong fighter.
I love these books. The BBC is working on a series based on these books and I cannot wait to see it.