The Pale Horseman

by Bernard Cornwell

eBooks of the Month Historical Fiction

LoveReading View on The Pale Horseman

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, Cornwell’s 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 Alfred’s 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.

Sarah Broadhurst

The Pale Horseman Synopsis

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 Alfred’s family and a few of Uhtred’s 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 Alfred’s 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 Saxons’ 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.

The Pale Horseman Press 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

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780007149926
Publication date: 03/10/2005
Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780007149926
Publication date: 3rd October 2005
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Genres: eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction,
Categories:

About 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 ...

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