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The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Last Kingdom (Book #5 of 13)
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 403 pages (Kindle edition)
Published: 1st October 2009 by HarperCollins
Uthred has often been called hot-headed but considering his circumstances, I think his patience is applaudable.
The Burning Land is the fifth installment in Bernard Cornwell’s Last Kingdom series; the battle and conflict with the Danes continue. In addition to this, there’s also a new villain: Skade. Skade is a woman with a dark power to rule over men’s hearts. I’m truly impressed by Cornwell’s capability to weave an engaging story. I’ve read five books in this series now, and I’m still not bored by it yet despite the episodic and formulaic storytelling. The themes and topics of an oath, duty, faith, and loyalty return here once more, and sorely tested Uthred shall be.
“He wanted to improve the world, while I did not believe and never have believed that we can improve the world, just merely survive as it slides into chaos.”
Bounded by oath and loyalty to Alfred, despite disliking Alfred and the Christians, Uthred continues to fight for him. This is seriously astounding to me because Alfred’s treatment towards Uthred was absolutely horrible, in my opinion. There were several times where I just wanted Uthred to end Alfred and his reign; so many times he saved Alfred, so many times Alfred’s reign prosper because of him. And yet, he’s still treated like crap. However, this is what Cornwell does well. Whether we like Uthred/Alfred or not, none of these character’s decision ever felt forced. These are their characters, these are their personalities, and this is their relationship.
“The gods are capricious, and I was about to amuse them. And Alfred was right. I was a fool.”
As I mentioned before, I’ve known the main events of this novel due to watching the show, and I was still enthralled by it. The main characters always have their development within each book, and similar to the previous installment, Sword Song, I loved the character development of Aethelflaed and Steapa. Although the TV show did an excellent job of portraying Uthred, Alfred, Finan, Sithric, and Aethelflaed, and many more, I feel like they could’ve done a better job on Steapa. Uthred’s relationship and respect for Steapa in the novels were briefly mentioned here and there, but they successfully displayed the depth of their relationship; this is missing from the TV series. That said, I still totally loved the TV series; this is just a minor nitpick. As for battles? It’s Bernard Cornwell.
“Some oaths are made with love, and those we cannot break.”
Overall, The Burning Land is another great volume in The Last Kingdom series. From what I’ve watched, big changes are coming soon to the story, and I am so looking forward to reading the next book.
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