Customer Review

55 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form (of sorts...), 2 Oct. 2009
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This review is from: The Burning Land (The Warrior Chronicles, Book 5) (Alfred the Great 5) (Hardcover)
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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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Oct 2009 20:20:41 BDT
very fair review

Posted on 21 Oct 2009 01:13:03 BDT
Moondog says:
Here's that comment you were after. Enjoy

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Oct 2009 11:28:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Jun 2010 14:25:51 BDT
Magic Lemur says:
Cheers man, rocked my world...

Don't usually put that on reviews, but thought I'd experiment.

P.S. Have now removed it as it was a little affectatious...

Posted on 25 Sep 2012 13:26:41 BDT
Hi,

Great review. May I ask you, for someone who has never read a Cornwell book but has a perticular interest in Vikings, could you please recommend the best book in this Saxon series to start off on? Your opnion would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

Kind regards
Paul

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Sep 2012 14:42:47 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Sep 2012 14:48:32 BDT
Magic Lemur says:
Hi Paul,

I'd recommend starting at the first book (The Last Kingdom) as it fills in a lot of details and is an awesome read.

That said, if you're after the best two books, I'd say start with The Pale Horseman (2) and then try The Lords of the North (3). Of all the Bernard Cornwell books, these two are (IMHO) the twin heights of his brilliance.

Also, I'd thoroughly recommend the audio book versions of both - Tom Sellwood is a first class narrator of the first two books (he has a Northern accent, which helps) and Richard Armitage for the third one. The first person narrative really lends itself to narration.

Oh, and one last thing is that the book following this is really first rate (Death of Kings) - this one and Sword song seem to have been a bit of a dip in the series...

Regards,
Magic Lemur
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