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The Lords of the North (audiobook)

Richard Armitage narrates The Lords of the North audiobookRichard Armitage has recorded an audiobook of Bernard Cornwell's The Lords of the North.

Released in July 2007, it's an unabridged, 12 hour recording for Chivers Audio Books (an imprint of BBC Audiobooks).

Bernard Cornwell is best known for his best-selling Sharpe novels. The Lords of the North is the third book in his 'Saxon Stories', a series of novels about the forging of England in the 9th century.

They tell the story of the warrior Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the disposessed son of a Northumbrian lord. But they also tell of King Alfred of Wessex, eventually King of the Anglo-Saxons, who began the task of uniting the Saxon kingdoms into what was to become England.

The novels in the series are The Last Kingdom (2004), The Pale Horseman (2005), The Lords of the North (2006), Sword Song (2007), and The Burning Land (2009). They're set in a land torn between Saxons and the invading Danes, a land partly pagan and partly Christian.

Uhtred, the narrator, was born a Saxon, but at ten years of age he was captured and raised by Danes after they overran Northumbria and killed his father. Thereafter, his loyalties are divided between the Saxons and the Danes. He fought for King Alfred when he drove the Danes from Wessex, but as The Lords of the North begins, he has left Alfred and journeyed north to reclaim his lands from his usurping uncle, and to avenge the death of his Danish foster-father, Ragnar. He is 21 years old, battled-hardened, cynical and angry.

The Sunday Telegraph, reviewing the novel in July 2006, had this to say:

"Cornwell is a good enough historian, as well as a good enough storyteller, to immerse his readers in the world he is creating. This is not Marxist history, an analysis of competing social forces, but a rich human mosaic, set at a time when life was cheap, but all the more intense as a result. [...]

What redeems the novel from comic-strip history is the quiet excellence of the writing. Cornwell is a master of narrative basics, and there are many more eminent writers who could learn from his crisp aggregation of telling detail. Some of the physical descriptions - a winter dawn or a ship negotiating rough seas - are models of their kind." [1]

Richard Armitage gives a lively and involving reading of the novel. The Lords of the North is peopled with warriors, priests, slave-traders, nuns and kings, and he uses a variety of voices and accents to bring them all to life. The story is occasionally violent, but at times it's also wryly amusing and even moving. He creates and builds atmosphere skilfully, and the result is a gripping tale, even for those who might not normally read novels in this genre.


Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Lords of the North, read by Richard Armitage.

Uhtred, accompanied by a former nun called Hild, has reached Eoforwic (York) on his journey north to seek the killer of his foster-father, Ragnar. There he finds that tales of King Alfred's victory over the Danes in Wessex have roused the Saxons in the city to start killing the local Danes. Uhtred realises that the Danish warlord Ivarr and his army will soon march into Eoforwic to massacre the Saxons in revenge, and he decides to get out of the city.

Listen to the excerpt...


To order the audiobook

This recording of The Lords of the North is available from AudioGO, who will ship worldwide.


Further information

Bernard Cornwell's official website
Biography of King Alfred
at the official website of the British Monarchy

Wikipedia's pages about The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman give plot summaries of the two earlier novels in the series - a useful catch-up for those who haven't read them. Their page about The Lords of the North contains a plot summary (beware spoilers!) but also a useful list of the characters in the novel.


[1] Review of The Lords of the North (novel), Sunday Telegraph, 2nd July 2006

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