Uhtred is a Saxon, cheated of his inheritance, and adrift in a world
of fire, sword, and treachery. He has to make a choice: to fight for
the Vikings, who raised him, or for King Alfred the Great of Wessex,
who dislikes him.
In the late ninth century, Wessex is the last English kingdom. All the rest have fallen to the Danish Vikings, and the Vikings want to finish England. They assemble the Great Army, whose sole ambition is to conquer Wessex. Yet fate, as Uhtred learns, has its own imperatives. When the Vikings attack out of a wintry darkness to shatter the last English kingdom, Uhtred finds himself on Alfred's side.
The Pale Horseman is an enthralling story, a novel of divided loyalties and desperate heroism, featuring a range of fully realized characters, from a king in despair to a beguiling British sorceress. And always, beyond the spearmen and the swordsmen are the folk who suffer as the tides of war sweep over their farmlands. The Pale Horseman is yet another masterpiece of historical and battle fiction that gives life to one of the most important and exciting epochs in the history of England's people and culture.
About the Author
Bernard Cornwell is the author of the acclaimed Richard Sharpe series, set during the Napoleonic Wars; the Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles, about American Civil War; the Warlord Trilogy, about Arthurian England; and, most recently, Stonehenge 2000 B.C.: A Novel and The Archer's Tale.
Bernard Cornwell worked for BBC TV for seven years, mostly as producer on the Nationwide programme, before taking charge of the Current Affairs department in Northern Ireland. In 1978 he became editor of Thames Television's Thames at Six. Mr. Cornwell lives with his wife on Cape Cod.
While it's difficult to imagine many listeners being interested in a novel set in ninth-century England, it's equally difficult to imagine anyone who starts this thrilling book putting it down. The second volume of Cornwell's projected trilogy about King Alfred the Great, Pale Horseman continues the story of Uhtred, a young Northumbrian nobleman and warrior who is torn between his Saxon patriotism and his admiration for England's Danish invaders. In this tale, Uhtred must choose between Alfred and the Danes. As always, Cornwell blends engaging fiction with authentic historical backdrops, while bringing to life a remote era in a persuasive narrative that makes for perfect listening. Tom Sellwood's relaxed and confident narration is an improvement over his more strained reading of the novel's predecessor, The Last Kingdom, and accentuates the book's strengths. Recommended for libraries whose patrons appreciate first-class historical fiction.-R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
-- Library Journal
Outnumbered Saxon forces continue battling Danish invaders in this rousing sequel to the bestselling The Last Kingdom. It's A.D. 877, and the dispossessed Northumbrian noble Uhtred has just routed the Danes in a battle at Cynuit in southern England. Logically, Uhtred should now ally himself with Alfred, whose Wessex kingdom alone has successfully resisted Danish control. But Uhtred sees a better chance of recovering his lost estate if he finds a way to join the Danes, who raised him and whose simple life of "ale, women, sword, and reputation" he finds more congenial than Alfred's Christian piety and military caution. But when the Danes invade Wessex, Uhtred's loyalties are further divided. His Celtic mistress foretells victory for Alfred, but Uhtred can scarcely believe that the bedraggled king, camped in isolated marshes with a handful of supporters, can repel the invaders and unite England. Yet pride grows in Uhtred: "I understood that among the Danes I was as important as my friends, and without friends I was just another landless, masterless warrior. But among the Saxons I was another Saxon, and among the Saxons I did not need another man's generosity." Uhtred demonstrates his newfound patriotism in the book's climactic battle at Edington. Filled with bawdy humor, bloodlust, treachery and valor, this stirring tale will leave readers eager for the next volume in this Alfred the Great series. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
-- Publishers Weekly
Cornwell's tough medieval saga continues after King Alfred's realm is reduced to one swamp and a handful of believers. Uhtred of Begganburg, Northumbrian narrator of Cornwell's series opener, The Last Kingdom (2005), returns to court from his triumph at the battle of Cynuit to find that his rightful glory has been usurped by his weasely nemesis, Odda the Younger. Pious King Alfred is always ready to believe the worst of the pagan Uhtred, who should have skipped rest and recovery at home with beautiful wife Mildrith-now a serious whiner-and gone straight to His Majesty to take credit for the death of the Danish warrior Ubba. Too late. The bad career move puts Uhtred way outside the sanctimonious Saxon power circle, to the disappointment of the increasingly religious Mildrith. Just as he is about to perish from boredom on his farm, Uhtred's old pal Leofric reappears, and the two chums hatch a plan to go plundering in the West, disguised as Vikings. On their excellent adventure, the two score copious loot and Uhtred rescues beautiful Celtic queen Iseult, who is also a bit of a witch. The loot comes in handy when Uhtred wants to settle Mildrith's family debt to the rapacious church, but the only way he can square things with Alfred is by winning a battle with Steapa, a stupendously strong, extra-large warrior. In the middle of the contest, Vikings spring a surprise attack and the Saxons are badly beaten. The king and his family flee, taking refuge in a bog inhabited by gloomy fishermen loyal to no one. A little magic and a formidable battle begin to reverse the bad fortune. Swords, shields, mud and blood. Great stuff, as always, from the master.
-- Kirkus Reviews
Praise for The Pale Horseman: '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 'It is stirring stuff, and few writers are better qualified than Cornwell to do justice to the excitement of the times...Ninth-century Britain and a master of storytelling - it is a marriage made in heaven., Sunday Telegraph 'Cornwell,s mastery of historical sources and his aptitude for battle scenes is well established...the language, and particularly the dialogue, is raw and unarchaic, rich in insults and Anglo-Saxon expletives., Times Literary Supplement
Series: Saxon Chronicles
Number Of Pages: 464
Published: 22nd May 2006
Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0 x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.326