Defeated comprehensively by the Vikings, Alfred and his Saxon followers seek refuge in Athelney, a tidal swamp and all that is left of Alfred's kingdom.
Uhtred still thinks of rejoining his Danish foster brother and the victorious Vikings, but he finds a growing respect for the stubborn leadership of Alfred, to whom Uhtred's support is essential if the Saxon strength is to be rebuilt and battle joined with the enemy.
Don't miss the rest of Bernard Cornwell's literary masterpieces.
©2006 Bernard Cornwell; (P) BBC Audiobooks LTD
The sequel to "The Last Kingdom" is just as excellent as the first volume and the narrator is phenomenal : priests, monks, warriors, and kings all come alive (really alive : close your eyes and you can touch them...). The combination of a good book and a great narrator is what makes audiobooks so much fun and it doesn't get better than this !!!
I just can't wait for the next volume to be released...
The quality of the narration is done exceptionally well. The story itself makes me want to learn a lot more about my history. It makes one wonder about so many other aspects of history and where we could be with even ever so slightly different outcomes.
One more time!
An excellent book read by an excellent reader.
What could possibly be better!
Uhtred's story continues. Do you! have the guts to stand next to him in the shield wall. Where does his allegiance lie, with the Danes or the Saxons, can past loyalties survive. Plenty of Dark Age battles with buckets of gore. Excellent historical based novel.
Yes, in this case I think the audiobook version worked better for me than the print version would have done. Usually I prefer the print version but all 6 of these audiobooks were excellent despite several different readers. Actually, my main complaint was the 2 of the series were abridged and this greatly diminished my enjoyment - it always does!
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
I really liked the audiobook of The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell???s first novel in his Saxon Chronicles! It has vivid details of life among the Danes, authentic-feeling depiction of 9th century battle, a complex Alfred (pious, learned, and manipulative), and an honest and conflicted first person narrator, Uhtred the pagan Saxon warrior. And Tom Sellwood reads it wonderfully, with an appealing Northumbrian accent for Uhtred???s voice, whereby u sounds (as in sun) become oa sounds (as in soap).
But despite Sellwood???s believeable reading (for Uhtred, southern Saxons, Britons, Danes, priests, warriors, and women, etc.), The Pale Horseman, the second book in the Saxon Chronicles, disappointed me. It has plenty of violent action (blood, guts, and excrement) and develops more of Alfred???s complex character (his bravery and lack of warrior???s spirit). And there are some great scenes, as when Iseult works healing Celtic moon magic, or as when Uhtred shows up at Alfred???s court expecting to join his inner circle of advisors and is accused of breaking the king???s peace in siding with Danes in butchering Christian Britons and sacking a half-built church, or as when Alfred begins the painstaking process of assembling an army in the marshes.
But I found The Pale Horseman an unpleasant listen that I was relieved to finish. Maybe it was Uhtred???s 21 year-old macho rage, violence, and lack of humor. Maybe his dilemma, whether to place his allegiance and sword with the pagan Danes or the Christian Saxons, left me wishing he???d just be true to his pagan heart and regretting the course of history in which Cornwell places him to write the novel. Maybe I found it a little unbelievable or tiresome that he would be so effective a warrior and successful a leader and get so little credit or reward for his feats and advice. Maybe I felt that the presence of (obviously accurate) prophecy in the novel removes too much suspense. Maybe there were just not enough likeable characters.
I may eventually give Uhtred and Cornwell a third try with the third book, but not for a long time.
I would recommend the book to a friend, though I might recommend reading it for one self.
Tom Sellwood did an OK job at differentiating between the characters though I would have preferred a performance without all this changing of voices. I prefer to form my own opinion of the characters and when a character is given a voice that I find does not match what I envision myself, it tends to irritate me.
The audio cuts off in several places, especially in part 2 so parts of words and even whole words are cut out.
"Superb second in a series."
Bernard Cornwell excells himself once again with a fascinating and highly enjoyable yarn set at the time of Alfred The Great. Like its predecesor, this story is told in first person by the narrator, Uhtred of Bebbanberg. Uhtred is now well and truly in the hands of Alfred but still has divided loyalties between his native people the English and the 'Viking' invaders. Its a cracking yarn in the style of Cornwell's other novels concerning King Arthur, not quite as good as these in my opinion but if you liked the Arthur trilogy then you'll love this. Selwood reads wonderfully with good accents which bring Cornwell's words and characters to life. All in all a good listen and if you haven't already heard it get the first in the series; The Last Kingdom as it will help you understand some of the characters a lot more.
This is as good as the first book in the series if not even better. The reader Tom Sellwood is truly brilliant and was one of the main reason why I purchased the second novel. I do hope that more will be released and being read by him as I would defiantly get it and encourage others to do so too.
"Not as bad as the title suggests!"
Having heard 'The Last Kingdom' on Audiobook, I waited a few months before getting the sequel as it seemed, for one, that it couldn't live up 2 it's predecessor and, for two, like Mr Cornwell's inspiration had run out with the first one. Indeed, it is common for the pilot of a series to be fantastic, only for the sequels to be formulaic & predictable ('Rome', anyone?)
Happily, I'd say that this novel was actually better than the first as the plot covers a much more interesting section of Alfred/ Uhtred's life than did the previous one. It's fascinating to hear such an interesting storyline, interwoven with History, and the aggressive male passion that Uhtred displays makes you wish you could spring from your day job & go slay a few Vikings!
So hooked was I that I got to the end & am still mulling it over in my head a week after. So intense is the experience of both the narration & the excellent writing, that it comes as an unusual plot twist to be told in the historical note that not all of it is true. I won't reveal what the twist is, but is sufficient to say that elements of the story are history, but of the fuzzy variety...
What can I say, then, that will persuade you that this is an interesting book to buy? Only this: that although it may not be 100% historical (& Cornwell may use an identikit formula for his books), it is still worth reading at least one of his series of books and, from experience, this series seems a good place 2 start.
"Another fabulous tale"
A great continuation to the burning land - be prepared for some pretty horrific moments. Bernard Cornwell again takes you back to how incredibly gruesome warfare would have been at that time, with stomache churning and cringing moments, but so beautifully told and laid out - its like listening to poetry. I would highly recommend listening to this story and cannot wait to complete the next tale.
"No pale imitation - this is as good as it gets"
Want to know what it was like living in Saxon England, when all was in turmoil and the Danes were busy colonising the land? Want to understand how a young Northumbrian boy, taken in a Viking Raid, can become a warrior, grow to a man and be able to fight for both sides? Want to hear as if it was direct from his own lips? Then this fabulous audio recording is for you! It brings to life Uttrehd, an Earl's son, with all his strengths and weaknesses- his utter determination to get back to Bamborough and re-claim his land; his allegiances and loyalty to those Danes who raised him - yet his willingness to fight for King Alfred, whilst having utter contempt for the power and the pious ways of the King and of the priests who rule Alfred's life. There's double dealing all round and a whole cocktail of characters with their own agendas.
Yes, there's blood and gore, as Uttrehd's trusty sword 'Serpent Breath'does its work, but there's brilliant flashes of humour and irony too, to leaven the mix.
Tom Sellwood's narration is superb, as he carries us forward with the second book chronicling Uttrehd's life as a warrior, his marriage, his friendship with Leofric. The text is salty, it's stimulating, it's vibrant, its breathtaking in portraying the utter disregard for women, (or at least most of them) yet it is utterly captivating when the characters are so ably brought to life by Tom Sellwood. I loved the first book, and this one was a worthy successor. I've listened to it through twice in succession, so sorry was I that it had finished. Given the reviews I've read about the change of narrator for the following books, I am almost loath to try them... but I would encourage everyone to try these first two in the series - they're up there amongst the top 5 of the 100 audiobooks I've downloaded so far.
Tom Stoppard as narrator is great. Highly recommended.
A really gripping yarn, for some reason perfectly suited to being read aloud.
"Can't wait for more"
This is a great sequel to The Last Kingdom. It follows the adventures of the fictional Uhtred, an Elderman of Northumbria after he's joined up with Alfred ('The Great') of Wessex to drive out the Danish invaders ('Vikings') during the 870's.
Tom Sellwood's narration is great, and brings the story to life. Bernard Cornwell's story telling is gripping, but still has lots of details which give a sense of realism in his telling of Saxon life.
I can't wait for the unabridged version of the Lords of the North (also read by Tom Sellwood).
"A ripping yarn"
Thoroughly enjoyed this one. A good follow on from The Last Kingdom and now I am looking forward to The Lords of the North.
The narration took a bit of getting used to, as my 1st audio book. The accent threw me a little and I did find myself distracted a little from time to time. None-the-less, once I got used to the voice, I could not switch off my iPod!
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