I’ve continued my listening to The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell with Warriors of the Storm. This 9th entrant in The Last Kingdom series really brought all of the elements I enjoy about this story together.
In this story, Uhtred has entered his second “prime” as a lord serving Aethelflaed, the Lady of Mercia.
Uhtred has reestablished his relationships with his children and the young Aethelstan, and he builds on these relationships in Warriors of the Storm in meaningful ways, demonstrating that he is no longer the absent father as when his children were younger. He is a father and a leader of young people, who finds young boy servants he knows can learn from him and join the ranks of his warriors as they become men.
Uhtred’s own ambitions have also been reseeded after seeming lost for a time. Through the middle few books of this series, Uhtred appears mostly aimless. He always pines to retake his ancestral home at Bebbanburg, but he has very little idea of how to accomplish that, so he is buffeted from conflict to conflict against a constant tide of new enemies. Warriors of the Storm feels like the first time in several books that Uhtred shows real ambition, where he takes proactive steps to make his claim to Bebbanburg.
This ambition gets Uhtred into some trouble with an army of Norsemen, hearkening back to his younger brasher days. But as a veteran warlord, and with some good allies, he makes his stand.
This story called back a lot of themes from previous stories, helping it feel quite familiar: a Northern threat; a mysterious sorceress; a hair-brained quest; and a last-ditch battle. It was a great story overall that reminded me of why I love this series.
The narration is serviceable, but the tone of this narrator feels underwhelming to me. I suppose nothing compares to the bellowing and growling of Jonathan Keeble, who narrated the first few stories of this series.