Third in the Saxon Tales series.[return][return]In 878, Uhtred the dispossessed heir of Bebbbanberg, has been rewarded by Alfred, King of Wessex, for Uhtred s critical role in winning the battle of Ethandun against a Danish army--with a miserable little holding that was barely able to support the three slave families that worked it. Alfred is by nature a miser and his dislike of Uhtred, who refuses to become a Christian, only adds to the insult.[return][return]Uhtred has had enough of Alfred whom he deems overly pious as well as an ingrate. With Hild, the ex-nun he rescued who is now his friend and lover, he buries his hoard, keeping enough only to travel, and sets out for Northumbria, where he has major grudges to settle: with his uncle, who usurped Bebbbanberg and with Kjartan and his son Sven, who murdered Uhtred s foster father, Ragnar.[return][return]This is another great tale from Cornwell, who knows how to plot as well as how to write terrific battle scenes. He uses what is known about 9th century England and Alfred the Great to weave a totally realistic plot with believable characters. It s a real page-turner; while I was racing through the book, eager to find out what happened next (and there are quite a few twists in this one), I also was reluctant to have it end. Cornwell is one master storyteller.[return][return]Highly recommended.