Saturday, April 10, 2010

REVIEW: The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

I read the first book in the series, The Last Kingdom, over a year ago so I was a little worried I would forget what he story was about at this point but who could forget Uhtred? I was soon engrossed in my adventures of the brash Saxon fighter. In this installment England is being overrun by the Vikings. The Kingdom of Wessex and it’s noble ruler King Alfred are the last holdouts. Alfred believes in peace at any cost, an assertion that the Danes don’t agree with-they break every treaty made with Wessex including the current one which leaves Wessex under siege and Alfred a fugitive.

At this point in his life Uhtred, who is married and has a young son, is trying to decide which side to take-the side of the Danes with whom he was raised or the side of King Alfred and the Saxons. While hiding out at home to see which way the wind is going to blow a military crew comes to salvage a boat near his property. Uhtred convinces the crew, many of which are his friends to commandeer one of the boats and disguise it as a Dane ship so they can make raids on the Danes. On one such raid Uhtred meets Iseult, a Shadow Queen. After turning traitor on her ruler, the king who hired Uhtred and his band to fight Danes occupying a stronghold neighboring them, Iseult leaves with Uhtred and he takes her back to his home, much to the displeasure of his wife. It seems like Alfred’s chances of keeping the Kingdom Saxon are slim and we don’t find out if he and his Army led by Uhtred succeeds til the end of the book.

I really like Bernard Cornwell’s books, especially if I am looking for a good adventure and something that has second to none descriptions of battle scenes. I always get that when I read a Cornwell book and this book did not disappoint either. I do notice that Uhtred has a little bit of a similarity to Derfel in Cornwell’s Arthur Trilogy but the storylines are different enough to set them apart. I enjoy the character of Uhtred and his inner conflict about which side to choose was well played here. I can’t wait to read the next one in this series. I’m definitely not going to be waiting a year to start Lords of the North like I did to start this one.

If the FTC is wondering: This book is from my own personal library


  1. Thanks for this review! I have been wondering about his books for a while. Are the battle scenes graphic?

  2. A little bit. He does describe the wounds received for some of the characters and states that there was lots of blood but he also gives a detailed account of the entire battle-like this is how they formed the shield wall, the left flank was doing this, the right that, and the strategy for the battle. He is really a master at battle scenes. You'd think all that would be boring and its really not :)

  3. I really liked this series too! I've been meaning to try some of his other books but I haven't got around to it quite yet...
    Good review. :)