The Burning Land
By Bernard Cornwell
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780060888749, 352pp.)
Publication Date: January 19, 2010
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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 Ragnarand his old foe Haestenhe 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 Englandan irresistible new chapter in his thrilling Saxon Tales, the epic story of the birth of England and the legendary king who made it possible.
Bernard Cornwell is one of the kings of historical fiction — his Richard Sharpe novels, about a British soldier in the Napoleonic wars, and Grail Quest series have captivated audiences in the United Kingdom and United States. His new book, The Burning Land — the latest in his series The Saxon Tales — is currently on the bestseller list. NPR's Neal Conan talks with Cornwell about the ninth century, writing historical literature and the new PBS series based on his Sharpe novels. More at NPR.org
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“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. . . . Vivid descriptions of merciless battlefield slaughter, rape, and destruction are artfully related by a masterful storyteller.”
“Cornwell (Agincourt) has been described as a master of historical fiction, but that may be an understatement. Cornwell makes his subject material come alive. Better, his major protagonist is totally believable and human.”
-Robert Conroy, Library Journal
“Cornwell, a master of martial fiction, makes history come alive with his rousing battlefield scenes.”
-Margaret Flanagan, Booklist