At the conclusion of Cornwell’s best-sellingThe Last Kingdom (2005), Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a slain Saxon nobleman raised by Danish warriors, had reluctantly rejoined King Alfred’s beleaguered forces in the rapidly dwindling kingdom of Wessex. Although the Danes had already conquered the kingdoms of East Anglia, Northumbria, and Mercia, Alfred, with an able assist from Uhtred, had stalwartly fended off the Viking invasion. Uneasily allied to the cerebral Alfred, the more vigorous Uhtred is plagued by divided loyalties as the Saxons struggle to maintain a toehold against the mighty Viking war machine. Taking refuge in a boggy marshland, the ragtag remnants of the Saxon army desperately attempt to regroup. Two vastly different heroes–Alfred and Uhtred–stand between the Danes and total annihilation of the Saxon culture. Further complicating the matter is the fact that Uhtred faces a moral dilemma when he realizes he must choose between allegiance to the king he has grown to admire and loyalty to Ragnar, his much-loved foster brother. Cornwell, the author of the excellent Sharpeseries, displays his usual flair for providing action-packed martial history populated by a diverse array of realistically drawn characters. A crackerjack adventure tale from a master of the craft.