Plausible and evocative imagining of the Alfred the Great's struggle to preserve the kingdom of Wessex and ensure the survival of England.
Although the second part of a series of historical novels, this book is perfectly self contained and can easily be read alone. The short historical note that follows the story puts the dramatic events into context and makes clear just how important to England's history the clashes portrayed here really were.
Nice to see the one "fact" every schoolboy knows about Alfred The Great: his burning of the cakes, included here, and the episode is very plausibly told, as, to be fair, are all of the snapshots of life in this difficult time.
When I was a schoolboy (another historical period all together) a TV series,"the Raven and the Cross" told the story of the battles between Viking and Saxon in Dark Age Britain. Then, it could be assumed that Christianity had the upper hand morally and culturally, presumably just because it was "right." In our modern day, less religious, time this certainty is no longer present. Cornwell's hero, Uhtred, is not a committed Christian, but he does fight loyally for Alfred. This creates a more realistic potrayal of how things appeared at the time, I'm sure, but, inevitably it means that it is less easy to sympathise with and care about the heroes.