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The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell
  

The Pale Horseman

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The second in his Alfred the Great/Viking series which is set to be just as big as his previous successes. Vikings seem to be popular at the moment, but of all the sagas crossing my desk, Cornwellâs is by far the most compelling. He has a fast, exciting style and captures well the passion and brutality of the time. This installment of the story has Alfred hiding in a swamp trying to rally support while the Danes walk all over his Kingdom of Wessex. As ever Uhtred, the protagonist, is caught up in the middle, his loyalty torn between his British relatives and his Danish foster family, and his resentment of Alfredâs overly religious rule boiling over. I love this book. For historical escapist adventure Cornwell cannot be beaten.

Comparison: Conn Iggulden; Simon Scarrow, Christian Jacq.

Similar this month: Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Steven Pressfield.

If you like Bernard Cornwell you might also like to read books by Wilbur Smith, Robyn Young and Patrick O'Brian.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

Synopsis

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

Uhtred, Northumbrian born, raised a Viking and now married to a Saxon, is already a formidable figure and warrior. But at twenty he is still arrogant, pagan and headstrong, so not a comfortable ally for the thoughtful, pious Alfred. But these two, with Alfredâs family and a few of Uhtredâs companions, are apparently all that remains of the Wessex leadership after a disastrous truce.

It is the lowest time for the Saxons. Defeated comprehensively by the Vikings who now occupy most of England, Alfred and his surviving followers retreat to the trackless marshlands of Somerset. There, forced to move restlessly to escape betrayal or detection, using the marsh mists for cover, they travel by small boats from one island to another, hoping that they can regroup and find some more strength and support.

They seek refuge in Athelney, a tidal swamp to which Alfredâs kingdom has shrunk. Uhtred finds himself torn between his Danish foster brother and the winning Vikings, and his growing respect for the stubborn leadership of Alfred. He must decide whether to rebuild the Saxonsâ strength from his watery base and help them to take on the Vikings once more.

THE PALE HORSEMAN is a splendid story of divided loyalties and desperate heroism, with a wonderful range of characters from Vikings to British kings in their Cornish fortresses, from political but passionate priests to enduring fishermen and farmers desperately striving to survive as the battle sweeps over them. Uhtred and Alfred, Vikings and Saxons, are a winning combination for Bernard Cornwell.

Reviews

'Cornwell is a virtuoso of historical fiction.' Sunday Telegraph

'Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation.' Daily Mail

'Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.' Observer

About the Author

Bernard Cornwell

Born in Essex in 1944 Bernard Cornwell was adopted at the age of six weeks by two members of a strict fundamentalist sect called the Peculiar People. He grew up in a household that forbade alcohol, cigarettes, dances, television, conventional medicine and toy guns. Not surprisingly, he developed a fascination for military adventure. As a teenager he devoured CS Forester’s Hornblower novels and tried to enlist three times. Poor eyesight put paid to his dream, instead he went to university to read theology. On graduating, he became a teacher, then joined BBC’s Nationwide, working his way up the ladder to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland, then editor of Thames News. In 1979, his life changed when he fell in love with an American.

"Judy couldn’t live here, so I gave up my job and moved to the US. I couldn’t get a green card, and for 18 months the only thing I could do was write novels." The result was his first book about 19th century hero, Richard Sharpe, Sharpe’s Eagle.

In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series, the Alfred series and standalone battle books Azincourt and The Fort.

Bernard Cornwell owns houses in Cape Cod and Florida and two boats. Every year he takes two months off from his writing and spends most of his time on his 24 foot Cornish crabber, Royalist.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd October 2005

Author

Bernard Cornwell

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Author's Website

www.bernardcornwell.net/

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Publisher

Harpercollins Publishers

Format

Hardback

Categories

Historical Fiction
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ISBN

9780007149926

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