Friday, February 26, 2010

16. The Burning Land

By Bernard Cornwell
Rated 4.9 stars
From Library
Audio Book

I loved this book but it sure was bloody.  I also have my ongoing whine about Cornwell's vision of Alfred but this is, after all a book of fiction so he is perfectly entitled to portray him any way he pleases even when he is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Alfred, who was the only English king in history to have "The Great" tacked on to his name could not have achieved what he did if he was the sour, uncharismatic  religious zealot Cornwall portrays.   My other complaint is that the reader consistently mispronounced Uther's side kick Finan's name wrong  Since that's my surname it jarred ever time he mispronounced it.

But these are minor quibbles.  Bernard Cornwall is a wonderful story teller and I have been solidly hooked on this series since 2004 when book one, The Last kingdom came out.  These books are must reads for me.


In a clash of heroes, the kingdom is born.
At the end of the ninth century, King Alfred of Wessex is in ill health; his heir, an untested youth. His enemy, the Danes, having failed to conquer Wessex, now see their chance for victory. Led by the sword of savage warrior Harald Bloodhair, the Viking hordes attack. But Uhtred, Alfred's reluctant warlord, proves his worth, outwitting Harald and handing the Vikings one of their greatest defeats.

For Uhtred, the sweetness of victory is soon overshadowed by tragedy. Breaking with Alfred, he joins the Vikings, swearing never again to serve the Saxon king. Instead, he will reclaim his ancestral fortress on the Northumbrian coast. Allied with his old friend Ragnar—and his old foe Haesten—he aims to invade and conquer Wessex itself.

Yet fate has different plans. The Danes of East Anglia and the Vikings of Northumbria are plotting the conquest of all Britain. When Alfred's daughter pleads with Uhtred for help, he cannot refuse her request. In a desperate gamble, he takes command of a demoralized Mercian army, leading them in an unforgettable battle on a blood-soaked field beside the Thames.

In The Burning Land, Bernard Cornwell, "the reigning king of historical fiction" (USA Today), delivers a rousing saga of Anglo-Saxon England—an irresistible new chapter in his thrilling Saxon Tales, the epic story of the birth of England and the legendary king who made it possible.
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