An anachronistic strafe of the career of Alfred the Great which hits the consciousness like sodium pentothal. Narrated by a bore called Ned, ""creator and commander of the infant navy,"" this is the tale of Alfred's early battles, his tour in disguise to camps of friend and foe, and the burnt cakes howler. Alfred sounds like Richard Bellamy: ""it is essential that I assess the lords' dispositions and their plans"" . . . and Ned speaks in Pentagonese: ""Our spears, with the impetus of our charge, giving us the initial advantage. . . ."" One cheers for the Vikings, like ""Hubba, son of Hairy Breeks,"" who loses. If it's any comfort, Hubba, we can, as Alfred says, ""only die once.