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The Burning Land: A Novel

The Burning Land: A Novel

Written by Bernard Cornwell

Narrated by John Lee


The Burning Land: A Novel

Written by Bernard Cornwell

Narrated by John Lee

ratings:
4.5/5 (64 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 19, 2010
ISBN:
9780061953644
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

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Also available as bookBook

Description

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 Ragnar – and his old foe Haesten – he 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 England – an irresistible new chapter in his thrilling Saxon Tales, the epic story of the birth of England and the legendary king who made it possible.

A HarperAudio production.

Publisher:
Released:
Jan 19, 2010
ISBN:
9780061953644
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

BERNARD CORNWELL is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales series, which includes The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, and, most recently, The Empty Throne and Warriors of the Storm, and which serves as the basis for the hit television series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.


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4.5
64 ratings / 22 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    I had not read a book in this series in a few years, and I now regret waiting so long. I was sucked right back into the world and actions of Uthred and enjoyed this story very much. Cornwall's ability to mix history with fun adventure and exciting (if not unrealistic) characters is outstanding. Looking forward to the next one.
  • (4/5)
    Enjoyed this installment of Uhtred as much as any others. Maybe even a little more on account of some good evil characters!
  • (3/5)
    Uhtread of Bamburgh continues to do good things against his bitter judgement. The series has a good period flavour, and is on a par with his Richard Sharpe works. we are involved with the education of one of king Alfred's few bastard children, and the attendant military business is well described.
  • (4/5)
    Cornwell is a master story teller, no doubt about it! Uhtred is telling the story, so we know he must survive somehow, but still the narrative has the momentum to keep the reader glued to the pages!What I am loving now is how Uhtred finds his inspiration or his suggestive clues in auguries, in little details that trigger his thinking, that show him where and how to proceed. It's a beautiful touch to his character. That's the kind of open attention that really does create greatness in those times and in these.
  • (4/5)
    A good book, not as gobsmacking as the others preceding it but good nonetheless
  • (5/5)
    I started this series in search of something to occupy myself with while waiting for the next release in the Outlander series. WOW! These stories are so good that the end of the book comes far before you realize it. Highly recommend for droughtlander or any other drought you may be facing.
  • (2/5)
    Story was excellent as the previous books were. However, narrator John Lee was absolutely atrocious going from fast paced monotone lines to odd pauses and annoying attempts to add emotion to the reading. While it is understandably difficult to follow Jonathan Keeble's reading of the previous book Sword Song, Lee's reading here is not only, not entertaining, its actually distracting and makes it more difficult to follow the story. On top of this, the odd and obviously incorrect pronunciations are just plain frustrating. Why not check with the author or listen to the previous audio books before deciding how to pronounce the unknown words?
  • (4/5)
    This fifth instalment of the Saxon Stories is set during the early 890s when Alfred the Great is ailing yet is still the most powerful man in the divided England that he hopes to unite.As usual, the tale is narrated by the anti-hero of the piece, Lord Uhtred, who is a Saxon warrior with a liking for his countrymen’s enemies, the Danes. At one time or another he has fought on both sides, as he does is this tale, though he’s predominantly – and unwilling – on the Saxon side in this episode.By now Uhtred is in his mid-thirties with a renowned reputation as a great warlord. He is a pagan but is also good friends with three Christian priests. His conversation with them is often amusing, as are his confrontations with priests who he doesn’t get along so well with.Uhtred is also a man who honours his pledged oaths. This leads to him leading more great battles against the Danes, first on behalf of King Alfred – who he doesn’t like – and lastly on behalf of Alfred’s daughter Æthelflæd – who he likes well.As always, Bernard Cornwell’s depictions of battle scenes are vivid and believable. This is one of the author’s greatest talents. Confrontation of all varieties, be it physical or verbal, is expertly portrayed. The characterization and plotting are also superb.The thing that, in my view, prevents Mr Cornwell from being an even better writer than he is – and he’s one of my favourites – is his dialogue attribution. The actual dialogue is excellent, but for 90+ per cent of the time he interrupts the flow by needlessly reminding the reader who’s speaking, more often than not inserting this pointless information (pointless because it’s obvious who’s speaking) in the middle of sentences, as the following excerpt shows:“He’s only doing it,” Æthelflæd said, “so my father doesn’t attack him.”“He’s a weasel’s earsling,” I said.“He wants East Anglia,” she said. “Eohric’s a weak king and Haesten would like his crown.”“Maybe,” I said dubiously, “but he’d prefer Wessex.”The reader knows whether it’s Uhtred or Æthelflæd speaking, not only because there are no other characters taking part in the conversation, but also because these are two strong characters. Mr Cornwell maybe does not realise that the strength of his characters make it clear to the reader who’s talking, just as he fails to grasp how irritating is to have his well-written dialogue swamped with superfluous attribution.This is the best example of needless dialogue attribution, plus it’s the stupidest line in the book: “I am Ragnar Ragnarson,” Ragnar said.Anyway, apart from this pet hate of mine, this is a great read by a great author. I really like Uhtred, Alfred, Ragnar, Haesten, Æthelflæd, and most of the priests. I also like a character new to this series, namely Skade – beautiful but brutal.
  • (4/5)
    Cornwell weaves a compelling tale of shield walls, sieges, and the spread of christianity through the pagan lands. Definitely best to read the other books first before this one, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be half as enjoyable without the background of the characters. I was really kind of hoping this would be the last book and there would be closure but it looks like poor Utred has more work to do before he settles into his ancestral home.
  • (4/5)
    The Burning LandFifth novel in this series. Like the others, this is a good page turner, but Uhtred remains, for me, as unsympathetic as ever. It is odd that an author who clearly, to judge by his historical afterword, and rightly in my view, regards Alfred as truly deserving the title "the Great", continues to portray the King is such an unsympathetic light. His son, the future King Edward the Elder, is treated in the same way, though Uhtred's opinion of the Aetheling is improving by the end of the novel after the Vikings are defeated at Benfleet. As in earlier novels, the relentless slaughter is described graphically and is a little wearisome.
  • (4/5)
    The latest book in Cornwell's Saxon series. If you've read any of the others there's not much to say - Vikings, shield walls, axes, death, Thor, dismemberment... A good time. I continue to enjoy the series.
  • (5/5)
    In his fifth book of the Saxon series “The Burning Land” Bernard Cornwell strikes gold once again. Chock full of all the candor and brutality I have come to expect from Mr. Cornwell, “The Burning Land” entertained me from vicious beginning to its bowel loosening ferocious bloody end. What I truly enjoy about Mr. Cornwell’s stories are the modest vignettes he paints with his primary and ancillary characters. Such as when Uhtred gave the crying milkmaid a silver coin after she spilled the contents of her cans trying to bow to the warlord. According to his website, Mr. Cornwell is currently working on the next Saxon installment hopefully he can keep the streak going.
  • (4/5)
    In book 5 of the Saxon Chronicles, our hero, Uhtred of Northumbria, is once again manipulated to do the bidding of Alfred the Great. Now an ancient man close to death (he is "well over 40"), Alfred is conspiring to obtain Uhtred's oath to serve his son, Edward, who he hopes will succeed him as king. Uhtred, still upset with himself for swearing an oath to Alfred in the first place, avoids this, but Alfred uses a back-door, Edwards sister, Aethelflaed, who Uhtred had sworn to protect. In the midst of this political maneuvering of fealty, the Danes once again are getting ambitious, this time a chieftain called Haeston attempts to divide the strength of Wessex by enticing Northumbrian Danes to attack as well. A curious character in the form of a Frisian beauty named Skade, meanwhile, is playing her own games of treachery, self-interest, and proves as capable as any marauder when it comes to committing atrocities.
  • (3/5)
    Uhtred, a Danish hired sword for King Alfred, fights against his own kind and trains the future King Edward to be a leader. Uhtred is a wise and wiley warrior who always find a way to turn long odds to his favor, using diversion, old sailcloth, bee hives, and his understanding of ambition to his advantage.
  • (4/5)
    The saga of Uhtred,a Dane employed by King Alfred to defend Wessex from other Danes, continues. Cornwell has written another great work of historical fiction. This time, Uhtred abandons Alfred and travels north to visit his good friend, Ragnar. Alfred tricks Uhtred into returning to Wessex to defend it against a Dane named Haesten who has launched an invasion.My only problem with Cornwell's books is they come to an end and I have to wait for the next one to get published.four out of five stars for this book. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell is a work of historical fiction detailing the Saxon-Dane clashes during the Tenth Century over Northumbria and Wessex.I haven’t read much in the genre of historical fiction before- if ever. However, I do read quite a bit of epic fantasy. I was surprised by how closely Cornwell’s book resembled some of my favorite authors like George R.R. Martin. The only difference is that Burning Land’s setting is within our realm of reality.The novel is full of detailed battle scenes and fast-paced action. However, Cornwell takes enough time to flesh-out his characters. By the end of the book, you fairly well understand Uhtred’s motivations and why he was torn between keeping his oath and leaving to reclaim what had once been his family’s home.One theme spread throughout the story is the corruption of the Catholic church during that time period. Conversions were used as political tools and “relics” were sold in limitless supply to enrich the church. Women’s power over men, much to the dismay of the church, is also a focus. The book ends in a traditional good v. evil battle with Æthelflæd opposing Skade.This book was a bit of a “blind date” in that it was given to me by a co-worker to read. I was pleasantly surprised to find a new author to add to my reading list.
  • (5/5)
    Another excellent addition to the series from Cornwell. The Burning Land was a return, in ways, to the main thrust of the series after what seemed a departure in the fourth book. While there is much in this work that could be called the same as the previous installments, I think the sense of what we know is inevitable is closing in on Uhtred, causing him to become more of a sympathetic character even as he cleaves people's skulls.
  • (4/5)
    The Burning Land is Cornwell's fifth book in the Saxon Chronicles that take place during the reign of the ninth century English king, Alfred the Great. The stories' protagonist is Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a warrior born in Northumbria, but raised as a Dane. The devout Christian Alfred is trying to create "England" by melding together his Wessex with Mercia, East Anglia and, eventually Northumbria, but he repeatedly finds himself in need of aid from the pagan Uhtred.This book is more of the same. Uhtred is pulled between his Danish roots and his oath to the Saxon king. The book features numerous skirmishes and one big battle as the climax. Uhtred's perpetual inconstant attitude does grow a bit wearisome, but not so much as to turn me against the series. Cornwell gets the known historical details right (for example, Alfred's use of the `burh' system of fortresses), but the relatively sparse record also leaves much room for speculation.If you have enjoyed the previous books in the series, you will want to continue. If you are new to the series, you can enjoy this book as a standalone and then go back to read the previous installments (Of course, it is better to start at the beginning. The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Chronicles Series #1)) Cornwell rarely disappoints his loyal readers and The Burning Land is no exception.
  • (4/5)
    Good but not as good as usual lets hope the next on picks up
  • (4/5)
     Cornwell is keeping the action flowing, but the main character of this series seems to be invincible. I guess that is the point. Overall, a nice 5th addition to what is probably my favorite series. I wish Cornwell wrote longer books, but I am beginning to understand that if he did, we wouldn't be getting them every year. I guess I can hope to see another installment next January. If not, I'm positive whatever Cornwell writes will be added to my library. I am now a hardcore fan.
  • (4/5)
    A fine edition to the Saxon Series. However, as this is now the fifth book in this series the parallels between Uthred and Derfel Cadarn of the Warlord Chronicles are becoming all the more apparent. Those remain my favourite books that Cornwell has written to date and I would personally rather that Derfel be left more as a stand-alone character. As this era of English history has been little examined in historical fiction more additions to the series are naturally to be sincerely welcomed.
  • (4/5)
    A return to form for Cornwell although there is also a return to the formula that made the Sharpe series so engrossing and so frustrating. Uhtred is still a compelling mixture of honour and savagery but his essential dishonesty and heroic pride echo Sharpe more strongly than I would wish. It is probably unhelpful to list Cornwell's tropes since this is no place to begin a journey with him and should you make it this far through the Alfred series then you must be able to tolerate them. It is my guess that Cornwell intends this to be another long series and, as a single episode in the middle, it is not surprising that this feels to be truncated. For all these flaws, I do commend this to those who may have had doubts after Sword Song.