The Lords of the North

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The Lords of the North
BernardCornwell TheLordsOfTheNorth.jpg
First edition cover
Author Bernard Cornwell
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series The Saxon Stories
Genre Historical novel
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
22 May 2006
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 366 pp (hardback edition)
ISBN 0-00-721968-7 (first, hardback edition)
OCLC 224807788
Preceded by The Pale Horseman
Followed by Sword Song

The Lords of the North is the third historical novel in the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell published in 2006. The story is set in the 9th century Anglo-Saxon kingdoms Wessex and Northumbria. Uhtred wants revenge against his uncle, and falls in love. He fights for both the Danes and for Alfred.

Plot summary[edit]

878 - 881: 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 travels by ship with his friend and lover, Hild. They make landfall near Eoferwic (York) to find the region in disarray. Lord Ivarr Ivarsson and his army are engaged with the Scots in the north. The formerly Danish-held Eoferwic has been conquered by Saxons. The central lands of Dunholm are ravaged by Kjartan and Sven, and Bebbanburg remains under the control of Ælfric. Uhtred is hired to escort a Danish merchant's family north, through Dunholm, to safety.

As they travel and attempt to avoid the Dunholm fortress and Kjartan's troops, they are unsuccessful and are led into a slave trading camp led by Sven. Uhtred disguises himself as Thorkild the Leper, Dark Swordsman of Niflheim, and convinces Sven he is sent from the dead to haunt him. He frees Danish King Guthred of Cumbraland from the slave pens.

In Cumbraland, Uhtred becomes the commander of Guthred's household troops and adviser. He trains a band of thirty new warriors and stops an attempt by Kjartan to capture him and Guthred. Uhtred supports Guthred's bid for power against the rival factions of Northumbria, including his uncle Ælfric who now rules Bebbanburg. He falls in love with Gisela, Guthred's sister, before being betrayed by Guthred and cast into slavery.

During two years spent chained to the oar of a Danish trading ship, Uhtred befriends Finan the Agile, a former warrior. Uhtred is rescued by Steapa and Ragnar who pursued the trading ship in their Red Ship on the orders of King Alfred. Uhtred returns to Wessex to learn that it was Hild who convinced Alfred to send Steapa and Ragnar to his rescue. Hild had promised to Alfred that she would use Uhtred's hoard of silver to build an abbey and recommit herself to Christ, and in return Alfred agreed to rescue Uhtred.

Uhtred, Father Beocca, Steappa and Ragnar are sent on embassy to Guthred with a message to make peace in Northumbria. They arrive in Guthred's court to find that Gisela was married to Ælfric via proxy in return for support against Kjartan. Uhtred is certain his uncle will send no men to support Guthred. He chases off Ælfric's men without allowing them to take Gisela, kills Ælfric's monk Jænberht and leads Guthred's men against Dunholm himself.

Uhtred's plan to take Dunholm is to once again become a sceadugengan. In the darkness, he along with eleven of his best men climb the hill upon which Dunholm sits and sneak into the fort through a gate used to fetch well water. Although they are discovered, they are assisted by Ragnar's sister Thyra, who has been held by Sven and Kjartan since the events of The Last Kingdom. Her assistance allows Uhtred to open the gate for Ragnar with the main forces of Guthred's army to enter the stronghold. Kjartan and Sven are killed and Guthred transfers control of Dunholm to Ragnar.

Guthred's claim to the throne of Northumbria is not complete yet. Guthred's army meets Ivarr's stronger force in the field. Uhtred provokes Ivarr into single combat and the novel ends with Uhtred winning the duel against Ivarr.


  • Uhtred - the protagonist, narrator, dispossessed Ealdorman of Bebbanburg
  • King Alfred of Wessex - The King of Wessex
  • Guthrum/King Aethelstan - Danish and Christian King of East Anglia
  • Guthred - Danish slave rescued by Uhtred and proclaimed King of Northumbria
  • Gisela - Danish woman, sister of Guthred
  • Hild - Saxon woman, a former nun who becomes Uhtred's companion
  • Ragnar Ragnarsson - Danish Warlord, son of Earl Ragnar, and Uhtred's foster brother and close friend
  • Ælfric - Uhtred's uncle and usurper of the throne of Bebbanburg
  • Father Beocca - Alfred's priest and Uhtred's family friend
  • Kjartan the Cruel - Master of Dunholm, killer of Earl Ragnar the Fearless
  • Sven the One-Eyed - One-eyed son of Kjartan, enemy of Uhtred
  • Thyra Ragnarsdottir - Sister of Ragnar, kidnapped by Sven
  • Ivarr Ivarsson - Danish Warlord, son of Ivar the Boneless
  • Rypere - Saxon boy Uhtred trains
  • Clapa - Danish boy Uhtred trains
  • Sihtric Kjartansson - Kjartan's illegitimate son sworn to Uhtred
  • Jænberht and Ida - Monks in the employ of Ælfric
  • Abbot Eadred - Guthred's chief supporter and possessor of Saint Cuthbert's corpse
  • Father Hrothweard - Priest in Eoferwic
  • Tekil - Warrior employed by Kjartan
  • Sverri Ravnsson - Danish trader from Jutland who buys Uhtred as a slave from
  • Hakka - Sverri's Frisian right-hand man
  • Finan the Agile - Irish slave and warrior Uhtred befriends

Publication details[edit]