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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 October 2009
What a fabulous novel which breathes energy, new life and excitement back into a series which was beginning to feel a tad tired at the end of the last book.

At the end of book four, I felt as if the Uhtred saga was being drawn out too far and whilst I enjoyed the book I hoped Mr Cornwell would divert his skills to developing a new and original story. I was a little hesitant when beginning this book, I really wanted to like it as Bernard Cornwell is my favourite author and I didn't want to give any negative criticism to his latest work.

The Burning Land is truly excellent and the book allows Uhtred to taste some of the independence away from King Alfred which he has been craving for so long. This freedom has allowed the author to experiment and throw Uhtred into new plots and adventures. The pace is relentless and Uhtred is swiftly covering most of the Isle in search of a purpose, allegiance and identity. However, it is not long before old oaths and promises are called upon and the Norns which have always governed Uhtred's life laugh in his face when he establishes his independent purpose in life.

My only criticism against this book and it is truly out of pure selfishness, is the length. With Mr Cornwell biding his time before releasing a new book, we have an agonising wait before his newest novel is published. With only 336 pages, I soon devoured the book and was lamenting the impending finish which sadly, came too quickly!

Bernard Cornwell fans will definitely not be disappointed with this fifth book of the series. It is a `must read' and certainly sets up sound foundations for the next book of the series. Buy it, enjoy it but be prepared for the torturous wait for the sixth book!
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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2009
Men in the modern world are weak and puny compared to their ancient counterparts. Of course, there are exceptions but generally the lack of famine, war, pestilence & death make many men into weak molly-coddled metrosexuals without rough edges or depth of character.

This is why I absolutely LOVE this series - Uhtred is such a remorselessly tough individual & the tales are so raw in their violence that you feel you have had the 'animal spirit' inside of you reawakened! Such is the vividness of the writing that you can easily imagine being a Viking/ Saxon bounding across the plains of Wessex ready to slaughter & rout your enemies!

The 1st three books were great (partly because they followed a well-trodden formula from the Grail quests etc but mostly because they were epic). Sword Song (Alfred the Great 4) was bad though, & I was concerned this book would be equally lacklustre.

Luckily it is powerfully written & Uhtred is no longer a tame, West-Saxon family man but is taken to the pits of despair in as many ways as the author can conjure. He also has a host of warriors, who are well fleshed-out characters & the wide scope of the story mean he has to take on a Witch (in the form of Skade), a den of Pirates in Holland, two Viking warlords and, inevitably, his Uncle (who we finally encounter outside Bebbanburg).

The story has enough twists & turns to keep the reader interested & has a rich variety of places & people that Uhtred meets that make this story interesting & add potential for future books.

Sadly (for those who have read his other books or the 'Sharpe' Novels) the formula of Cornwell novels creeps in a little too often. Uhtred is different to Sharpe as they are good/ evil in different ways. However their similarities are very prominent (e.g. their tactical brilliance yet lack of candour) & this can become nauseous. Furthermore the plot to this book is very similar to Sword Song) (big battle, politics and then a battle at Benfleet) and although this could be poetic, I think that Mr Cornwell needs to go back to university & learn some new formula's for his stories!

That said, this book is mostly a return to form & I'd say it was the equal of The Last Kingdom (Alfred the Great 1), but probably not The Pale Horseman (Alfred the Great 2) or The Lords of the North (Alfred the Great 3). Still, if you want a novel that is easy to read, educational (without being heavyweight) & that will reawaken the spirit of our ancestor's, then this book comes highly recommended.
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on 27 January 2016
I read book 1 - 8 of the Last Kingdom series back to back as if they were one omnibus through a wet and miserable January. I had seen the BBC 2 series which covered book 1 and book 2 and found The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman such good reads I was glad that I had not read them before seeing the series. I was impressed by the explanations of the internal struggle Uhtred has to establish his identity,, and the uniqueness into which he forges his experiences , philosophy and education into the warrior and man he grows into. I was also impressed by the historical integrity Conwell brought to the background of Uhtred's adventures. Definite page turners all the way through. Loved every minute spent reading 1-8.
Although one should not bring 21st century thinking, morals and mores to 10th century life, one could not help thinking that 'everything changes and nothing changes.' Cornwell does encourage the reader to stop and think beyond the swashbuckling thoughout.
I am not sure whether Uhtred's forewords are a good or bad thing - whether they telegraph the ultimate outcome of the scrapes and adventures or whether they enhance the enjoyment of the finer points of the tale...
I was disappointed at the Kindle price of book 9- Warriors of the Storm, which at the present time is more than the hardback edition. Although I am hooked enough to want to read it very badly, principle prevents me following on at this time.
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on 13 February 2016
Another book in "The Last Kingdom" Series. As per the others I have reviewed it is very detailed, somewhat gory in parts but thats what makes a good battle story, the realism that the writer puts into your mind. Not the sort of book series I thought I would have enjoyed or chosen for myself, but having been introduced to book one, I was hooked. Good storyline taking you through the life, loves and battles of Uhtred. I would definately recommend this series to anyone with the interest in the 800/900s Norse / Dane / Viking / Saxon times and to those who arent who may become interested as I myself have been. The writer has a great knowledge of his subject area, he details actual historical characters and events and places along with fictional characters to bring out detail and story, This is a whole series of books, but there is no let up in the detail, interest or story as you go through the series.
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on 27 April 2016
Simple prose, easy concepts, first voice narration gives the story immediacy and clarity. That however that is also its flaw. The characters are about as well rounded (especially the women characters) as a cartoon. As a matter of fact, I felt as if I were reading descriptions of a graphic novel. This isn't wholly a bad thing. The action moves the story along. It is a good, romping read that provides some description of the possible actions of the people of the ninth century just not a lot of substance.
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on 30 January 2016
I love these novels they both excite and stimulate me once again Uhtred supports the failing Alfred
there are no punches ducked here and the warlord goes on to protect the realm. Although I have
come latterly to Mr Cornwell's writing I am always impressed and delighted to share these adventures.
A first class read!
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on 12 June 2016
Another fantastic book in the Last Kingdom Series. It is almost impossible to put down! The story carries on with a plot and characters, new and familiar, that excite and scare, amuse and bring tears of despair, anger and joy. I am enjoying this series SO much. Thank you Bernard Cornwell!
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on 15 May 2016
Brilliant just brilliant, and fascinating, and I am completely hooked and enjoying the experience finding out about this time in history, am now awaiting the number 10 in this series, which is still in the pipeline!
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on 5 April 2016
Fantastic read and a great follow up to the first four books in the series. I was disappointed at the fact that Jonathan Keeble didn't do the narration for the audiobook version and so I purchased the ebook version and made up the narration in my head. I encourage anyone who has read the other books to read this too. It is worth every penny.
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on 17 January 2016
This is as usual a very good and interesting read. As with all the Sharpe books I thoroughly enjoy the story, and the action.
I have read many of Bernard Cornwell's books and can say without a doubt that he is my favourite author.
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