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Review: The Last Kingdom 05: The Burning Land

The enemy is massing on the borders, a united force for once.

The king, a man of many victories, is in failing health, and his heir is an untested youth.

Uthred, the king’s champion, leads his country’s forces to war, but his victory is soured by personal tragedy and by the envy of the king’s court. So he breaks with the king and takes off for the land of his birth, determined to resist all calls for his return. That is, until one unexpected request…

This is the making of England brought magnificently to life by the master of historical fiction.

Goodreads, Synopsis

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Cornwell has become one of my favourite authors. I’d never read Historical Fiction before, but I’ve really enjoyed the series so far, despite the fact I’ve already watch the TV series, which is currently up to book 8. He has a wonderful way of captivating you; he pulls you into the history and writes brilliant characters.

The Burning Land is another fine edition, though much time has passed between the now and the events of the previous book. It seems a little strange that there were no stories worth telling… maybe Cornwell will add a short story or novella after he finishes the series.

I try to keep my reviews spoiler free, which is making it increasingly difficult to write these reviews as I want to discuss things that happen but cannot!

We are introduced to Bloodhair early on, though he seems more involved in the TV series than the book. Along with Bloodhair comes Skade, who is unlikable and a femme fetale if ever I’ve seen one! I didn’t really dislike her in the TV series but did in the book, where her path is somewhat different.

Anyhow, events conspire to push Uhtred away from Wessex. He seeks gold to raise an army that will help him reclaim Bebbenburg (always his main goal). On his journey he falls back in with the Danes and his brother Ragner but his loyalties become challenged once again, when Aethelflaed calls upon an oath he once gave her.

I must say I’m beginning to dislike Alfred somewhat. I liked him in the TV series and understood his process. Also, in the show there was more of a relationship and hidden bond between Uhtred and Alfred, which accounted for the actions of each. I think that is missing to an extent in the book.

There are some loose ends left in this novel which are hangovers from the last novel, so I expect to see those more involved, Haesten comes to mind. Others seem to be setup for the next novel too. The Scots and Edward possibly.

As with previous novels you can expect the usual battles, which are always written well, and tests of loyalty for Uhtred.