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.
Slathered in blood and gore, Saxon warlord Uhtred of Bebbanburg hacks his way through the ninth century in the exciting fifth installment to bestseller Cornwell's Saxon Tales series (following Sword Song). This action-packed novel continues the saga of warfare for supremacy in Britain, a brutal period when Saxon and Danish swords, battleaxes, and treachery ruled the day. By now, Alfred the Great is old and feeble, unwilling and unable to repel the Danish invaders. He relies on trusty pagan warlord Uhtred, but Uhtred's temper and an unexpected violent act force Uhtred to break his oath of loyalty to Alfred and flee north with his men, intending to reclaim his ancestral home. En route, they face marauding Danish armies, betrayal, battles for a pirate treasure, and the curse of a vicious Danish witch, only to eventually be manipulated back into fighting for Alfred. Vivid descriptions of merciless battlefield slaughter, rape, and destruction are artfully related by a masterful storyteller. Uhtred is victorious in some battles, but the outcome of others will have to wait for the sequel. (Jan.)
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January 18, 2010
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