Benjamin Merkle makes Alfred the Great come alive. I knew very little about the “White Horse King” before reading this biography. Although, I'm not a fan of the retelling of ancient battles, these were interesting and led to the proposition that Alfred was more than a warrior. I didn't realize until I read this book how wide spread the Viking incursions into England were and the part Alfred played in keeping the Saxon heritage safe.
I found the description of Alfred's innovations in learning and in the defense of his country very interesting reading. Clearly what Alfred was able to do and the success he achieved say that his innovations were extremely important. Apparently we are the beneficiaries of these practices today.
I was particularly fascinated by his conversion of Guthrum. While it may seem incredible, it appears that Guthrum did indeed embrace Christianity and become an ally of Alfred. It's an excellent example of how we should treat our enemies. I found the devote part of Alfred's character the most interesting in someone living in that time period. It must have been a great temptation to deliver the fatal blow and be done with it, rather than wondering whether Guthrum would be true to his pledges.
Altogether an excellent read about a time in history that I, for one, little understood.