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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!

Armitage goes North

After listening to Georgette Heyer’s novels Sylvester and The Convenient Marriage, read by RA, I was a little adamant to tackle The Lords of the North. This Bernard Cornwell novel, part of the Saxon Stories, didn’t sound like anything I would be interested it. Third in the series, it is based in the 9th Century Anglo-Saxon kingdoms Wessex and Northumbria.

You see my point- Saxon, Danish, Vikings and battle, guts and such.

It turned out there were 2 things I didn’t take into account:

Bernard Cornwell weaves stories in such a wonderful picaresque manner, his sense of humour balances out the gore of battle.

Richard Armitage can read a story like no other and create a reality that is extremely appealing. As I have seen with his other audiobooks, he is able to create a multum of characters with hybrid accents, that perfectly fit the era. As always you end up forgetting all the characters are read by one man. Truth be told, it doesn’t seem read at all.

The combination is simply magical. I regret that RA recorded only one of the books of the series, however I shall have a clear image of Uhtred when I read the remaining. And what an attractive image it is!

Image: Allthingsarmitage

With 12 hours, do yourself a favour, grab Serpentbreath and get to it!

Image: Allthingsarmitage

The protagonist, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, makes his way back to his native Northumbria seeking revenge against his uncle Ælfric and childhood enemies Sven the One-Eyed and Kjartan the Cruel. He is upset because of King Alfred’s snub and wishes to cut all ties with him.

I know history buffs will be upset at me, but throughout the recording, I imagined Uhtred as a Saxon version Guy of Gisborne.

My imagination, my right 🙂

Ok, so there aren’t any bows and arrows, but you get the point…


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