Book Review: The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell



Hello FriendlyBookWorm Readers!

I will start by admitting that I am an intruder to this blog, and very fortunate to be the boyfriend of Miss FriendlyBookWorm herself. I know, how did I land such a catch?

The purpose of this entry is to review a book for her and for you guys, and the book in question is The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell. I have read a huge number of Cornwell’s books, most notably the entire Sharpe series, and he has become one of my favourite authors for his style of writing.


The Empty Throne is historical fiction taking you back to Saxon England (or Englaland as the Saxons called it) and follows the journey of Lord Uthred of Bebbanburg (Bamburgh). He is one of the ealdormen of the Lord Æthelred and the Lady Æthelflaed. Basically at this point, there is a succession crisis in the area of England known as Mercia, with the next in line being female. This, as we all know, is a big problem. It’s made more interesting with attempts by the King’s brother to assassinate various heirs to the throne and the fact the Danish decide to invade at this exact point.

As the story is largely told from the perspective of Lord Uthred, one of the last Saxon Pagans in a nation that is now mostly Christian, you also get a brilliant overview of how much of an impact Christianity was having at the time.

’Father Penda,’ Wulfheard said, ‘let us pray that God persuades the Lord Uthred to cast away his Pagan trinkets. God listens to our prayers,’ he added to me.

‘He does?’

‘And I prayed for your recovery,’ he lied.

‘So did I,’ I said, touching Thor’s hammer.

One of my favourite things about Cornwell is the way he creates the environment of the time to his best of his ability to give you a real understanding of what it must have been like back then. All of his books, and this one is no different, also have a historical note at the end explaining exactly what was fictional and what was real so that you do actually learn some history whilst enjoying a great book.

Overall I would say that The Empty Throne is a great story with some good plot twists, some great themes and a really cool insight into a part of British history I knew very little about. I would highly recommend it, with the advice that you figure out all the place names before you start. Took me ages to figure out that Eoferwic was York…

Finally, thanks for letting me hijack the real reviewers blog,

Adios Amigos!