The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
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The Flame Bearer is the 10th book in Bernard Cornwell's series about his fictional creation and ancestor, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. By now the young hot tempered killer who struggled between his loyalties in the first books is older and wiser, and the continual burr against his skin that was Alfred is a receding memory. The one thing that isn't is Bebbanburg itself and that great fortress is where we start and end the book.

Sounds good yeah?

Unfortunately Uhtred isn't the only one who comes across as old here. I frequently found myself wondering how much more story there was to mine out of the Saxon warlord and his time when reading this story. The story itself is thin and padded out by Cornwell continually returning to Uhtred thinking about his old bugbears. The result was something that almost felt more like a pastiche of Cornwell than the real McCoy itself.

Make no mistake; it is still an enjoyable story. Uhtred's insouciant irreverence is as strong as ever and is employed to its full range in a number of dramatic-comic moments in the middle of the book. Cornwell still writes as good an action scene as anyone. If you give this book to your average historical adventure-action fiction fan, they'll like it.

But most of Cornwell's books are loved by fans of that genre. And I didn't love this book by quite a long chalk. I can only hope that his other fans tell me I'm off my rocker but this now feels like a series that needs to end sooner rather than later.
 

Vertigo

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I'm only on book 5 (reading it right now as it happens!) so you're a bit ahead of me, but I thought someone had told me that he had switched the story to Uhtred's son somewhere along the way?
 

The Big Peat

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I'm only on book 5 (reading it right now as it happens!) so you're a bit ahead of me, but I thought someone had told me that he had switched the story to Uhtred's son somewhere along the way?
Uhtred junior gets some PoV love in one of the books - although if memory serves that book is still more father than son - but its all grumpy old pagan boy here.
 

Vertigo

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Ah, okay, I had sort of expected the storyline to be handed over to Junior. But it seems not.

He can't be doing very many more of them then.
 

The Big Peat

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You'd have thought not but who can say? The next burst of interesting historical events does seem to lie with Aethelstan as king though and by that point, it is either Uhtred junior or bust. Its possible he'd go back and fill in some middle years as well Sharpe style.
 
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