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Death of Kings, by Bernard Cornwell

Reviewed by Star Foster

I am a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell, and was thrilled to finally sit down and read his latest: Death of Kings. Part of his Saxon Tales saga, it is a ripping good historical novel set as Alfred the Great is dying. I could wax rhapsodic about how accurate and well-researched his novels are, how well-written they are, and how he makes battle scenes sing. But I want to talk about his portrayal of ancient paganism.

The theme of paganism, particularly in conflict with a growing Christianity, is a recurring theme for Cornwell. His Arthurian trilogy handled the Roman religious remains of ancient England very well. It was easy to see this brotherhood of knights being rooted in leftover Mithraism, and you could imagine the exotic, foreign cult of Isis, which spread as far as Mithraism if not further, being looked at askance. But while his Arthurian Warlord Chronicles dealt with a more or less organized paganism, his Saxon Tales do not.

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