This is book 6 of the Saxon Chronicles.
Don't get me wrong...I absolutely love this series, but this particular installment was, in my opinion, the weakest of them all by far. Perhaps it is just a slow point in the overall plot arc, but you would think that the death of Alfred and the political maneuverings that are set in motion to replace him would create far more conflict and intrigue than this story provided. It sounds strange to say, but it seemed like a lot was going on in this book without anything actually happening. I flew through all five of the previous books. This one just felt more like a trudge.
I will give Cornwell a pass for this particular offering of Uhtred's adventures. As peace settles over the birth of England, I understand that action and battle will have to take a backseat to diplomacy and intrigue. This book offered a preview of what that shift might look like. While I understand the need for that, I couldn't help but feel disappointment in the way it was executed.
Hopefully, Cornwell can recapture some of the magic he created in the earlier books. Otherwise, as Uhtred continues to get old, I fear that the series runs the risk of getting old as well.