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Armitage takes on the Saxons

I’m currently reading the Saxon Stories.

It’s a continuing historical novel series written by Bernard Cornwell about 9th century Britain, and you may have heard of because our own Mr Armitage was kind enough to provide his voice (and acting talent) to the audiobook version of the third novel, The Lords of the North.

If there was any justice in the world, he would have recorded all 5 books, but I presume the chances of that now are slim to none.

 I wrote a post on the audiobook when I was first listening it, but I’ll just repeat myself by saying this is a must for any Armitage fan.

I’ve heard comments that the CD set is hard to come by and/or very expensive, so I hope most of you will get your hands on it, one way or another.

The series contains the following books:

Before I move on, let me make one thing clear.

I wasn’t sure about all that Saxon, Viking, Dane blood-spilling, vengence-seeking malarkey.

It seemed very far removed from what I usually enjoy, but I’m so happy I took the chance.

It is well worth it!

Just as the Spinners weave the fate or mere mortals, Cornwell creates a tapesty of wonderful characters and events.

I have a controversial suggestion, though.

Before you read the first book of the series, start with the RA audiobook.

I know it may seem like a foolish idea, seeing that this is all one long saga, with characters intertwined, and with extensive backstories, but there’s one reason why I suggest it.

When reading the books, I hear Richard Armitage.

His voice is Uhtred’s voice.

That’s enough of a reason to start from the middle.

Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Although he’s described as a very tall strong man, wide in the shoulder and chest, with long blonde hair and a bushy beard, I can’t help but see him like this:

Uhtred, for me, is Guy of Gisborne, season 3.

Torn between loyalties, haunted by past actions, a victim of cruel fate.

He’s brash and arrogant, rude and offensive.

He switches sides like a flag in the wind.

He fights, and smirks, is ruthless, but deep inside has a kind heart.

He’s described as smelling as bad as a wild boar, but that’s another thing I choose to ignore.

By the way, I know my timeline is very off, but the heart wants Uhtred to resemble Guy, so what can I do?

Anyway, what’s a century (or three) among friends 😉

There are some parallels to be draw between Guy’s relationship with Sheriff Vasey, and Uhtred’s with King Alfred, but I don’t want to spoil the story.

Uhtred, just like Guy, seems to favour ladies that are untamed, like soaring eagles.

There are many other parallels, but I’ll shut up now 🙂

I hope I’ve encouraged you to give the Cornwell books a try, but now I’m off to finish The Pale Horseman.

I can’t wait to see what happens to Uhtred, although mid book 3 there’s a twist in the plot that left me sobbing.

I literally mean a grown woman, listening to an audiobook, bawling her eyes out because something terrible happens to a fictional character.

Oh dear, not sure what that says about me…

Almost forgot to add a little sample of Armitage reading The Lords of the North!

About Agzy The Ripper

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48 responses »

  1. By BC, I just read “The Warlord Chronicles” (The Winter King, Enemy of God and Excalibur: A Novel of Arthur). Interesting, but too focused in violence). Anyway, what really discourages me is these long series!!!
    It really sounds a bit strange to begin the series by the third audio book, even if it brings RA voice, but maybe you’ll find someone willing to do it. If his Uhtred of Bebbanburg (I can’t even pronunce it) looks like our Sir Guy, we have a wonderful suggestion for the movie makers, don’t you think? Dreaming is free… 😉

    • LOL! I love long series. There’s nothing better than falling in love with a character, and following their path throughout a series of books.The Saxon stories are also very violent, and there are many battles, which I mind less than the unfortunate descriptions of horses wounded 😦
      I’d love to see RA play the part, but in book 3 Uhtred is 21, so I doubt Richard could pull it off.

      • Well, we can just forget about the character’s age… very simple… LOL

        • I’ve overlooked so many details, why not this? However, Uhtred describes an older man….of 30. Long grey beard and tired face. So I don’t know what that would make Richard at almost 41? Ancient?

          • LOL. Probably. We can’t forget that people didn’t live longer at that time, but in the movies everything is possible!! 😉

          • A girl was at the right age to marry at 13. If she wasn’t married by 17, it meant that she was either very ugly or poor. In general, it was not so good to be a woman in England in the 9th century. In the movies, there would probably be storng female worriors, but here women are mentioned as wives, mothers or poor victimes.

  2. Love the post. I’ve the first four books of the series (the last two are actually unprocurable in French).
    When I began the story I was a little disappointed that Uhtred had blond hair because
    since I know Mr A all my favourite fictional characters have to look like Sir Guy or Mr Thornton !!!!! OMG !

    • I’ ignoring all descriptions of the long blonde hair. I am simply refusing to link that with RA’s voice, and so Guy it is for me.
      I understand that book 4 is just as good. I’m now reading Lords, while listening to RA’s audiobook, and it’s an orgy of the senses 😉

  3. You girls don’t stop to make my pile of readings growing up. X-)

    • Isn’t it lovely to have books waiting for the right tto be read!. Some say “Where there’s life, there’s hope”. I say “Where there’s a pile of books to read, there a good life”.

  4. WordPress really doesn’t like me tonight, it keeps spitting out my comment! 😦
    I’m going to try again with just this, if anyone is having problems sourcing the audiobook:

    LOTN is only available on the UK audioGo site, not the US site.

    • Thanks for the link Mezz. Does anyone know how people from other countries can get their hands on the audiobook?

      • Agzym, I think that’s the only source of the RA audiobook. I ordered online from Australia, so I daresay it can be done from other countries as well.

        • I’m sensing a niche in the market here. How dare they keep honest hard-working Armitage fans from spending their dosh on a recording of his velvet voice. You’d think it would be available on amazon, just like everything else. *sigh*

          • There is one used set on Amazon that I’ve seen for $75 I think which seems expensive, given that brand new at audioGo is about GBP22 plus postage.

          • That is madness. I would hope for that price to get Armitage to visit me and read the book in my living room 😉

      • I’m in the US, and I got my copy of RA’s reading of LOTN by calling the Bath office (+44 1225 443400) of AudioGo Limited (BBC Audiobooks) and ordering it over the phone. I emailed them first to make sure there were still copies available. I had a most delightful conversation in email and on the phone with Dawn, who is so helpful. The cost was $45 (and change) USD including S&H. It did take about a month to be delivered, but it is so worth it. 🙂

        Hope that helps!

        Agzym … LOL … yeah, for $75USD, a personal reading by RA should be requisite! 😀

  5. I don’t think you need to read any of the books at all to enjoy the audiobook, but listening will probably drive you to seek out the other books anyway. I found most of them very cheaply in charity shops. And yes there are certain parallels between Uhtred and Sir Guy, but although they both perform what would be regarded these days as brutal acts, Uhtred is considered a “goodie” while Sir Guy is a baddie

    • No, the audiobook stands by itself, although there were so many questions answered in the first 2 books, it just made the plot of book 3 so much clearer. Cornwell doesn’t really go back to explain in detail what happened in the first 2, and that’s good, as it makes for a better paced reading.
      Uhtred isn’t really seen as the good guy books 1-3. Everyone loathes him, as he is a bit of a cocky b*stard, but he is valuable, fights well, and brings victory to whichever side he’s on. He’s admired, respected for his fighting abilities, but people see his as an untrustworthy lying pagan. A wonderful character!

  6. I love this series! I started out with the audiobook, then rushed out to buy all the books. Like Agzym, I hear Richard Armitage when I am reading the books. He *is* the voice of Uhtred, Lord of Bebbanburg.

    I’ve pre-ordered Death of Kings (the paperback is to be released in the US on Aug 28th). I’m really looking forward to reading it! 🙂

    • Hi Five! I knew it couldn’t just be me!
      Armitage is Uhtred! I especially enjoy the insults, the hissing that Alfred is a b*stard, taunting the enemy before a battle 🙂
      This series is just so good, and I hope people will give it a chance!

  7. I would probably have never read Bernard Cornwell’s books if it weren’t for RA’s narration of LOTN. I read all six books of the Saxon Chronicles, then the Arthur trilogy (which didn’t engage me to the same extent) and Stonehenge is in my to-read pile.
    I read the first two of the Saxon Chronicles series, making myself wait to hear the audiobook. I was hooked from the very first chapter, and listening to LOTN was an absolute joy. I too have read it while listening to Richard’s voice (“orgy of the senses” is a perfect description) and have loaded it onto my iPod so I can indulge anytime. I am particularly fascinated with the way Richard gets his tongue around the Saxon/Danish words that I see on the page. They sound so….delicious. He is simply superb, he is Uhtred. You forget that only one man is portraying all those characters, such is the skill he has in bringing them all to life so richly.

    My Uhtred looks like Thorin, with blonde hair and RA’s build and features. The image of the younger Thorin is very like how I have always pictured Uhtred in my mind!

    I purchased my copy from the following website (only available from the UK, not the US site) and found the order process hassle-free:

    • I’m so sorry Mezz. I’m sure it’s nothing personal, but I’ll have a word with wordpress, and say it’s being very naughty. I often have the same problem with blogspot. It keep insisting I’m a robot to the point where I start believeing it 😉
      I like the idea of Uhtred looking like Thorin, that might work for people who are just being introduced to the series. Guy is deeply lodged in my heart as the face (and body) of Uhtred, so I doubt I can change that.
      Richard is superb when he creates these audiobooks. With LOTN I especially like how he rolls his Rrrrrr. There’s something to be said about a man with a flexible tongue 😉

      • Agzy, any chance of deleting the first two comments (those awaiting moderation)? I’m taking up an awful lot of room!

        • Yes Hon, I’ve already done that. So sorry about the problems. I accepted one from the few you wrote with the same info (bless you for trying!). Are the ones I accepted OK?
          BTW, you can take up as much space as you want! 🙂

          • Thanks agzy, you’re a sweetheart! I’m sorry for bombarding you with all those comments, I didn’t realise I tried so many times. 😦 If I’d known the first one was awaiting moderation (and WP usually tells you) I wouldn’t have become so frustrated! Plus my dodgy memory made it difficult to recall if I had listened to the audiobook first!

          • It’s not your fault. Sometimes wordpress dislikes some comments, and I don’t think there’s a way for me to prevent it. But believe me, with some of the stuff it does send my spam box, I’m usually happy it makes the effort. Mexican viagra, anyone?

      • I was going to type something intelligent about how skillful an interpretative reader RA is … but then you girls put my mind right into the gutter with “orgy of the senses” and “a man with a flexible tongue” … *hot flash* (excuse me while I go find an ice bath) … 😉

        Oh, did I say thank you? 😀

        • LOL Z13, I sometimes think there’s something wrong when RA describes a brutal battle, with blood, guts flying all over the place, and all I can think about is how sexy he sounds. Can you imagine that his local takeaway restaurant hears that voice when he’s ordering a chicken korma with some nan bread 🙂 Lucky takeaway joint!

  8. 😀 Mexican viagra?…słucham!?..

  9. I’m on disc 6 of the series. I am loving it, and may have to read the other novels in the series. I don’t think I’d want to “listen” to anyone else, and once I have RA’s voice in my head, I know I’ll hear it when I read the rest.

    • I urge you to read the other books from the series, Beverly! You get such a wealth of info, like why Sven is called One Eyed Sven, how Hild came about, why King Alfred felt he had to serve Uhtred a slice of humble pie etc. It make listening to the audiobook even more interesting 🙂

  10. I have read the five books twice and listened to RA reading LOTN many times (can’t resist lol) I love these books. Didn’t realize the sixth book was available until I saw it here (thank you) so have ordered it off Amazon. It’s lovely to sit and read them imaging RA as Uhtred.

    • Hey AJ, I’m so happy there are so many of us who are not discouraged by it being a ‘Saxon’ series. If it wasn’t for the audiobook, I would have never picked up the books, and that would have been a crying shame. I’m so prejudiced against some topics, but when books or films come recommended, I give them a go, and 99% of the time it’s worth it.
      I’m just happy I have the forum to pass on the word 🙂

  11. Pingback: Get ready for extreme audio pleasure, Armitage is at it again! | I Want to be a Pin Up

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