Monday, February 20, 2006

The Lost Kingdom -- Bernard Cornwell

The Lost Kingdom is the first book in a proposed trilogy about Alfred the Great. I don't read a lot of historical fiction these days, but I like Bernard Cornwell's writing, and George Kelley recommended that I give this one a try. I'm glad I did. Viking adventures have always appealed to me (a long-time favorite is The Long Ships, both book and movie), and this one stacks up well.

The narrator of the novel is Uhthred, captured by the Danes at the age of ten. He grows up as a Viking, but his heart is still in England. Eventually he'll have to make a big choice. Nothing new here, and the novel doesn't break any new ground, but it's good reading, with plenty of historical detail and the "shield wall" and other things. I learned a lot (not that I'll remember it), and had a fine time doing so. The trade paperback edition that I read has over 300 pages, but it moves right along at a fine pace. I've enjoyed Cornwell's first-person narration in other books, both contemporary thrillers like Wildtrack and Scoundrel, and historical mysteries like The Gallows Thief. He's equally adept at it here. If you're looking for a fast-moving historical novel as a change of pace, check this one out.

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