In a clash of heroes, the kingdom is born.
As the ninth century wanes, Alfred the Great lies dying, his lifelong goal of a unified England in peril, his kingdom on the brink of chaos. Though his son, Edward, has been named his successor, there are other Saxon claimants to the throne as well as ambitious pagan Vikings to the north.
Torn between his vows to Alfred and the desire to reclaim his long-lost ancestral lands in the north, Uhtred, Saxon-born and Viking-raised, remains the king's warrior but has sworn no oath to the crown prince. Now he must make a momentous decision that will forever transform his life and the course of history: to take up arms and Alfred's mantle or lay down his sword and let his liege's dream of a unified kingdom die along with him.
About the Author
Bernard Cornwell is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales series, which serves as the basis for the BBC America series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Gripping. . . . Mr. Cornwell’s ‘Saxon Stories’ subvert myths of national origin as few would dare. They are ‘unofficial histories’—and all the more realistic for that.”
-Tom Shippey, Wall Street Journal
“[Cornwell] writes morally complicated and intricate stories, and he’s won a following not just among readers but also among fellow writers.”
-Gregory Cowles, New York Times Book Review
“Likely to appeal to anyone who has enjoyed George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series....Cornwell is a master of historical fiction.”
-Christian DuChateau, CNN
“A master of historical fiction has produced another great read.”
-Robert Conroy, Library Journal
“Bernard Cornwell does the best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present.”
-George R. R. Martin
“Cornwell tells Alfred’s story with wit, intelligence and absolute narrative authority.... Cornwell remains in full control of this colorful, violent material, and his steadily deepening portrait of Alfred’s nascent England continues to enthrall.”
-Washington Post Book World for Sword Song
“Bernard Cornwell ranks as the current alpha male of testosterone-enriched historical fiction.”
-Dierdre Donahue, USA Today
“Robustly drawn characters and a keen appetite for bloodshed whip the reader along in a froth of excitement.”
-James Urquhart, Financial Times
“Cornwell is adept at enveloping his fictional characters in British history. His use of geography, instruments of battle, strategy and ancient vocabulary is faultless….No knowledge of early British history or of his earlier Saxon volumes is necessary for a reader to enjoy his dexterous approach to historical fiction.”
-Dennis Lythgoe, BookPage
“[Cornwell] has been described as a master of historical fiction, but that may be an understatement. Cornwell makes his subject material come alive. Better, his major protagonist is totally believable and human.”
-Robert Conroy, Library Journal
“[Cornwell] possesses a gift for narrative flow and an eye of the telling detail that are the main reasons for his primacy in bringing turbulent times to vivid life.”
“History comes alive.”
“As expected, the warfare is ferociously bloody, the sacrilege pointedly barbed, and the story expertly paced. Heck, we’d even extol Uhtred’s budding spells of sober reflection about life and love—if we weren’t certain he’d slice an ear off for saying so.”
-Entertainment Weekly for Sword Song
“[M]asterful. . . . The surprise is that Cornwell’s love scenes are as deft as his action scenes, though far fewer, of course—all driven by a hard-shelled, sporadically soft-hearted, always charismatic protagonist.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)