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4.7 out of 5 stars
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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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 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 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 11 March 2017
Cornwell brings this period of history to life. Set in the 1st century, the Saxon v Norse battles are sketchy in my knowledge of this historical period. This book gives the period its rightful place in our nation's history. Oh and Uhtred is everything you want in a heroic lead.
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on 21 August 2016
This book is Ideal for those who like gripping adventure stories. Set in 9th century Britain it graphically tells of battles between Saxons and Danes for the control of the Southern Kingdoms of Britain. Bernard Cornwell again weaves his powerful and inventive narrative that makes his books so readable.
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on 11 October 2009
This is the first time I have reviewed a book here, but have been driven to it for one reason.

Bernard is, without doubt, quite brilliant and this book is no different. But we are used to the trilogy format and when the Alfred series went to volume 4, I was a liitle surprised and privately queried the lengths of the books. 300 pages for a fifth episode is hugely disappointing and quite honestly, a rip-off. Come on Bernard, you're taking for granted the fans who love you; the Alfred series could have and should have been another trilogy.

For those Bernard Cornwell fans who haven't read them, I must recommend my favourite 2 books ever; Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth" and it's sequel, "World Without End", 1000 and 1200 pages repectively.
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on 28 September 2009
As usual the latest bernard cornwall book is brilliant and certainly deserving of an author like Bernard Cornwall. Couldn't put it down untill I'd read every page! Maintains the high historical accuracy that has become a feature of Bernards books. Can't wait for another book in this series.
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on 11 April 2016
Really loving the Last Kingdom series! Its got me hooked and glued for sure! The audible is great as the narration is a big part of the story. As soon as I finished the last book Sword Song I logged on and downloaded the next book, The Burning Land and could not wait to carry on with Utred and his adventures. But, I'm sorry to say I was really disappointed by the new narrator. No offence to Stephen but it just did not compare to Jonathan Keeble, who narrated the previous books. The execution of the story is just not the same and the pronunciation of the names were completely different. I just go used to the ruggedness, different accents and his passion I felt is just way better delivered by Jonathan. If the other books are narrated by anyone else other than Jonathan then I am less interested in listening to the books.
I thought perhaps I had downloaded the wrong book.
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on 6 October 2009
Well the Uhtred story had started to lose a little of its momentum following the slightly lacklustre Sword Song.

The Burning Land is much more like it! Vivid confrontation, trajedy, betrayal, redemption and even a little Viking action, with Uhtred at the prow!

Cornwell really has historical fiction nailed down. He has an instinct for which bit of history make for the best drama and is a master of engaging your emotions. He uses many of the same plot devices here that Sharpe fans will be so familiar with. Untrustworthy women, savage comrades, loathsome allies and more enemies than you can shake an axe at.

Uhtred makes for a very compelling central figure, impulsive, brutal, infuriating and slightly psychopathic. He mixes a delicious bit of 'darkside' into the goodguy role in the way early Bond films did. A hero who is as ruthless and savage as the baddies.

Minor Spoilerage ahead!

My only negative is that the story seemed to conclude a 100 pages too soon. Both in terms of the books length and in the fact Wessex and Mercia were still knee deep in Danes!
I don't know whether Cornwell will pick up the story where he stops here but it did feel a little unsatisfactory.

End of spoilers.

I did think this might be my last adventure with Uhtred and the Saxons but after this return to form I now can't wait for the next one!
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