Feb 18, 2016

Warriors of the Storm (Saxon Stories, #9)

Warriors of the Storm (Saxon Stories, #9)Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OK, since Uhtred has the annoying habit of renaming his sons to keep them straight I am going to refer to his oldest son as "The Priest" and his youngest son as "The Warrior".

The book begins with the ships outside Brunanburh being burned by Ragnall Ivarson. Uhtred is relived that his son-in-law Sigtryggr isn't with his brother. Finan learns that his family is fighting with Ragnall. And everyone is happy to learn that Prince AEthelstan is OK.

Ragnall is hoping to take Ceaster but first he goes North and conquers Northumbria. When he returns to lay siege to Ceaster on Easter he has numerous Christians with him that he kills and Brida (a former lover of Uhtred's) gelds a priest that Uhtred realizes to his horror is his eldest son. Uhtred demands that the priest and nuns of Ceaster save his son's life, which they do. He also learns that his son "The Priest" was acting as an emissary for Sigtryggr and Stiorra who are under siege in Ireland by Ragnall's allies. Stiorra is holding them off by witchcraft but they are in danger of running out of food. He also learns that most of Ragnall's allies are with him under duress as he is holding their families hostage. Against AEthelflaed's wishes Uhtred leaves for Ireland to rescue his daughter.

Uhtred easily takes the boats guarding his daughter's stronghold and the crews give their allegiance to Uhtred and Sigtryggr, who promise to help rescue their family members from Ragnall. They land in Northumbria and gain an audience with Brida who is under the impression they are Ragnall's men, who have taken Stiorra hostage. Brida is killed and they set out to find Ragnall. Uhtred sends his son "The Warrior" to request aid from AEthelflaed's troops, who he assumes are close by.

Uhtred is disheartened when his son "The Warrior" returns and reveals that AEthelflaed returned to Ceaster leaving Cynlaef in charge of her troops and that he is too far away to be of help. Expecting to be defeated by Ragnall, whose army outnumbers his by thousands he tell Stiorra to run away with Sigtryggr, but she refuses. Finan challenges his brother who sends his champion against him. Finan quickly defeats the champion and taunts his brother who attacks him when his back is turned. Finan defeats him anyway and takes his crown. The Irish will no longer fight with Ragnall. Sigtryggr takes the women hostages he has and releases them. They go to their husbands who no longer wish to fight for Ragnall. Realizing they have a chance Uhtred leads a charge against the men who remain loyal to Ragnall, but a large majority of Ragnall's troops change to Uhtred and Sigtryggr's side giving them the victory.

Uhtred returns to Ceaster tells AEthelflaed he has made Sigtryggr King of Northumbria and that he will not attack Mercia and that with her "permission" he is going to reclaim his home.

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