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TitleThe Last Light of the Sun
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Total Pages362
Table of Contents
                            Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Document Text Contents
Page 2

The Last Light of the Sun

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party, wasn't he?”
Bern nodded. It was sliding into place.
“I'll wager you land we don't own any more they'll find Burgred with an

arrow in him.”
“He said the was still unwalled, that Esferth would be almost empty.”
Thorkell grunted, spat downstream again. “Empty? During a fair? Serpent-

sly, that one. Poisons his arrows.”
“How do know that?”
No answer. It occurred to Bern that he'd never spoken in this way with his

father in his life. Nothing remotely resembling this terse conversation. He didn't
have time, no time at all, to unwind his own held-in rage, the bitterness for lives
marred. Thorkell still hadn't asked about his wife. Or Gyllir. Or how Bern had
come to be in Jormsvik.

Fireflies darting around them. Bern heard bullfrogs and crickets. No human
voices, though; they'd gone north towards the walls and tents. And would be
coming out, back this way, heading for the coast. King Aeldred leading them, his
father had said.

Guthrum's party was on foot, would be running for the ships right now. If
they weren't dead. He had no idea where they'd been when they .. .

“Where are your horses?”
“Just west, in the woods.”
“In woods?” Thorkell's voice rose for the first time. “Are there

“I'll hit you again. Show respect. That's a spirit wood. No Anglcyn or

Cyngael will enter it. Stefa ought to have known, if you didn't.”
“Well,” said Bern, attempting defiance, “maybe he did know. If they don't go

in, it's a good place for our mounts, isn't it?”
His father said nothing. Bern swallowed. He cleared his throat. “He only

went in a few steps, tethered them, got out right away.”
“He did know.” Thorkell sounded tired suddenly. “You'd best move,” his

father said. “Think the rest of it out while you ride.”
Bern moved, climbing up the western bank. He said nothing but as he looked

around, crouching, Thorkell added, “Don't let Ivarr Ragnarson know you're my
son. He'll kill you for it.”

Bern stopped, looking down at the dark figure of his father in the stream. A
tale there, too, obviously. He wasn't going to ask. He wanted to say something
harsh about how late it was for Thorkell to be showing signs of looking after his

He turned. Heard his father come out of the water behind him. He walked

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Laura, as always: calmly confident from the days when I was first charting

the sea lanes of this journey, and remaining so when I cast off and shoals (and
monsters) appeared that hadn't been on the charts.

Charts can take one only so far in a novel, but in a work of this sort, drawing
upon very specific periods and motifs of the past, it is folly to embark without
them, and I have had the benefit of some exceptional cartographers (if I may be
indulged in a continuing metaphor). There are too many to be named here, but
some must surely be noted.

On the Vikings, I owe much to the elegant and stylish synthesis of Gwyn
Jones, and to the work of Peter Sawyer, R. I. Page, Jenny Jochens, and Thomas
A. Dubois. I have drawn upon many different commentaries on and translations
of the Sagas, but my admiration for the epic renderings of Lee M. Hollander is
very great.

Histories of the North are caught up in agendas today (as is so much of the
past), and clear thinking and personal notes became a necessary aid. I am
grateful to Paul Bibire for answers, suggestions, and steering me to sources.
Kristen Pederson provided a score of articles and essays, principally on the role
of women in the Viking world, and offered glosses on many of them. Max
Vinner of the Viking Ship Museum at Roskald kindly answered my questions.

For the Anglo-Saxons, I found Richard Abels invaluable on Alfred the Great.
Peter Hunter Blair, Stephen Pollington (on leechcraft and warcraft), Michael
Swanton's version of the and the splendidly detailed work of Anne
Hagen on Anglo-Saxon food and drink were variously and considerably of use.
So were works written or edited by Richard Fletcher, Ronald Hutton, James
Campbell, Simon Keynes, and Michael Lapidge, and the verse translations of
Michael Alexander.

With respect to the Welsh, and the Celtic spirit more generally, I must
mention Wendy Davies, John Davies, Alwyn and Brinley Rees, Charles Thomas,
John T. Koch, Peter Beresford Ellis (on the role of women), the verse
translations and notes of Joseph P. Clancy, and the classic, unruffled overview of
Nora Chadwick. I am deeply grateful to Jeffrey Huntsman for permission to use
his translation of the epigraph, and for generously sending me alternative
variants and commentary. The poem that concludes the book is from

copyright C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd., 1933, and is used here with
their kind permission.

On a more personal level, I owe gratitude to Darren Nash, Tim Binding,
Laura Anne Gilman, Jennifer Heddle, and Barbara Berson—a panoply of editors

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—for enthusiam en route and when I was done. Catherine Marjoribanks brings
more wit and sensitivity to the role of copy editor than an author has a right to
expect. My brother Rex is still the first and perhaps the most acute of my
readers. Linda McKnight, Anthea Morton-Saner, and Nicole Winstanley remain
friends as much as agents, greatly valued in both regards.

For many years, when asked where my website was, I would paraphrase
Cato the Elder, the Roman statesman. “I would rather people asked,” I'd reply,
“where Kay's website is, than Kay has a website.” Cato, famously, said that
about the absence of statues honouring him in Rome. A while ago the markedly
intelligent and insistent Deborah Meghnagi persuaded me that it was time for a
statue online (as it were), and I gave her permission to devise and launch I am deeply grateful for all she's done (and continues to do)
with that site, and I remain impressed and touched by the generous and witty
community evolving there.

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