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DESTINY IS ALL. BBC2’s major Autumn 2015 TV series THE LAST KINGDOM is based on Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling novels on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. THE PALE HORSEMAN is the second book in this masterful series. ALONE IN A SEA OF ENEMIES. BOUND TOGETHER BY LOYALTY, BELIEF AND DESPERATION. Wessex, led by the pious King Alfred, is DESTINY IS ALL. BBC2’s major Autumn 2015 TV series THE LAST KINGDOM is based on Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling novels on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. THE PALE HORSEMAN is the second book in this masterful series. ALONE IN A SEA OF ENEMIES. BOUND TOGETHER BY LOYALTY, BELIEF AND DESPERATION. Wessex, led by the pious King Alfred, is the last Saxon stronghold against the savage strength of the Vikings. Now it is struggling for its very existence. Uhtred, a Saxon raised by Vikings, is no ordinary warrior. As sharp of mind as he is of sword, his lust for life and battle sits badly with Alfred and his priests. But they face dire odds and Uhtred’s unique knowledge and fearlessness mean that he may be their only hope in the coming battle …


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DESTINY IS ALL. BBC2’s major Autumn 2015 TV series THE LAST KINGDOM is based on Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling novels on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. THE PALE HORSEMAN is the second book in this masterful series. ALONE IN A SEA OF ENEMIES. BOUND TOGETHER BY LOYALTY, BELIEF AND DESPERATION. Wessex, led by the pious King Alfred, is DESTINY IS ALL. BBC2’s major Autumn 2015 TV series THE LAST KINGDOM is based on Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling novels on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg. THE PALE HORSEMAN is the second book in this masterful series. ALONE IN A SEA OF ENEMIES. BOUND TOGETHER BY LOYALTY, BELIEF AND DESPERATION. Wessex, led by the pious King Alfred, is the last Saxon stronghold against the savage strength of the Vikings. Now it is struggling for its very existence. Uhtred, a Saxon raised by Vikings, is no ordinary warrior. As sharp of mind as he is of sword, his lust for life and battle sits badly with Alfred and his priests. But they face dire odds and Uhtred’s unique knowledge and fearlessness mean that he may be their only hope in the coming battle …

30 review for The Pale Horseman

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo Another great installment about loyalty, power, faith, friendship, and ambition. Putting into consideration that the first season of The Last Kingdom TV shows are adaptations of the first two books in the series, and now that I’ve read both The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman, I can definitely say that I prefer the first two books over the first season. To be fair, despite being a huge fan of the TV series, it was I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo Another great installment about loyalty, power, faith, friendship, and ambition. Putting into consideration that the first season of The Last Kingdom TV shows are adaptations of the first two books in the series, and now that I’ve read both The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman, I can definitely say that I prefer the first two books over the first season. To be fair, despite being a huge fan of the TV series, it was the second season and beyond that made me a fan. Yes, I know that they’re different mediums of storytelling, but a comparison in overall quality of entertainment can still be made. “Words are like breath," she said, "you say them and they're gone. But writing traps them. You could write down stories, poems.” The Pale Horseman takes place immediately after what happened at the end of The Last Kingdom. I’m incredibly impressed by how absorbed I am by Cornwell’s writing. I mean, this is only the second book in the series, and I’ve watched TV series adaptation; I know what’s going to happen to these characters. But Cornwell’s writing was so compelling and immersive that it felt like I was in the heat of the danger together with Uthred, Alfred, and all the characters. I felt the sense of danger, which in my opinion never felt immediate and threatening in season 1 of the TV series. I loved reading Uthred’s narration; he’s no longer a kid, but he’s still young and full of anger. The dynamic in the relationship between Uthred and Alfred definitely is one of the key highlights of this book. It’s always interesting to see Uthred’s struggle and conflict; he hates Alfred, and he also wants to be accepted by him. “There comes a moment in life when we see ourselves as others see us. I suppose that is part of growing up, and it is not always comfortable.” The King of the Marsh sequence of events in the book felt so memorable, too. At the end of the book, the historical note by Cornwell tells just how grim and dire the situation actually was. The Pale Horseman also introduced more important side characters for the series like Hild and Steapa. I must say, the Christians and how blindly faithful they were—everything that differs from their belief is immediately justified as an act of devilry blah blah blah—can be incredibly maddening. I think this is a good sign of the narrative, though; we’re hearing Uthred’s narration, and I can only imagine just how frustrating it must be in his shoes. I did have a bit of a minor issue, there were times when the description did get a bit dense that it slowed down the pacing. This is a bit common in Cornwell’s writing, and it doesn’t help that the paragraph in his books can run for one or two pages long. Fortunately, Cornwell’s battle scenes remained great as always. Dialogues were also tense, engaging, and sometimes hilarious. The Pale Horseman reminded me once again that Uthred has suffered so much even though it’s still very early in the series. “And that, too, was the truth, that a man cannot step back from a fight and stay a man. We make much in this life if we are able. We make children and wealth and amass land and build halls and assemble armies and give great feasts, but only one thing survives us. Reputation. I could not walk away.” Overall, I highly enjoyed reading The Pale Horseman. Cornwell is just so good at writing historical fiction, and this is a wonderful addition to The Last Kingdom series. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in two weeks. I’m sure the best for the series are still to come, and I seriously can’t wait to meet my dudes: Finan and Sithric. Official release date: 3rd October 2005 You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping) You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing! My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Edward, Estefani, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Lufi, Melinda, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Shaad, Summer, Zoe.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Frances

    Ahhhhh Uhtred you are quite the lad ......... Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Lord of Northumbria is as headstrong, arrogant, and fearless as ever. Now married with a child at the age of 21, he rode into battle to Cynuit and slaughtered the Danish leader, Ubba Lothbrokson. Fully expecting recognition for the deed upon his return to King Alfred, Uhtred meets the inexorable fate he always believed in. The pompous, self-important, Odda the Younger took the credit for the slaying, and no one, not even King A Ahhhhh Uhtred you are quite the lad ......... Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Lord of Northumbria is as headstrong, arrogant, and fearless as ever. Now married with a child at the age of 21, he rode into battle to Cynuit and slaughtered the Danish leader, Ubba Lothbrokson. Fully expecting recognition for the deed upon his return to King Alfred, Uhtred meets the inexorable fate he always believed in. The pompous, self-important, Odda the Younger took the credit for the slaying, and no one, not even King Alfred would ever challenge Odda since Alfred was in dire need of the troops and wealth belonging to Odda’s elderly father. Although deemed to be a Saxon, Uhtred’s very essence still belonged to the Danes having lived with them as a young boy. However, Uhtred realizes the day will come when he must make a choice to carry on fighting the Danes, or join them. Author Bernard Cornwell has written an epic tale of life in England in the year 877 and the great battle with the strong-willed Danes determined to take over their country. Many extraordinary, well developed characters grace the pages of this book and readers will be held spellbound to the conclusion. Highly recommended!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    The Pale Horseman is every bit as good as the first book. This, again, feels like another chapter of a man’s life. Uhtred has grown up a little and is more resolute in his ambitions since we last saw him. He has fought in his first shield wall and has completed the transformation from boy to man: he is now a proven warrior and, more importantly, he now has a growing reputation but, not necessarily a good one. His glory has been stolen by the coward Odda the Younger. He has claimed the victory at The Pale Horseman is every bit as good as the first book. This, again, feels like another chapter of a man’s life. Uhtred has grown up a little and is more resolute in his ambitions since we last saw him. He has fought in his first shield wall and has completed the transformation from boy to man: he is now a proven warrior and, more importantly, he now has a growing reputation but, not necessarily a good one. His glory has been stolen by the coward Odda the Younger. He has claimed the victory at Cynuit as his own, and the slaying of the mighty warlord Ubba as his work. When Uhtred returns to his king, he is met with distain and mistrust. The coward has turned Alfred against him and Uhtred’s anger threatens the fragile piece that has been made. So why not blow of some steam with a little Viking raiding? “There is so much joy in a good ship, and a greater joy to have the ship’s belly fat with other men’s silver. It is the Viking joy, driving a dragon headed hull through a wind driven sea towards a future full of feats and laughter. The Danes taught me that and I love them for it, pagan swine though they may be.” Uhtred builds up a small force of men, and steals one of the king’s ships, and takes himself off on a little nostalgic raiding trip. He gets to indulge in his Danish side without changing his loyalties and threatening Alfred’s promises of peace to the Danes. He meets Svein, a fellow warrior and a leader of men. The two are fast friends and together, make a brief companionship. It’s not too last though. Uhtred has debts to the church and must return to his wife and young child. Rumours of his deeds have leaked to his king and his must face his distaste for a second time. Though what can Alfred truly expect? Uhtred is as much Danish as he is Saxon. He is a divided man. One who realises that only through Alfred can he regain his former Earldom. However, he is Danish at heart as they he was raised by them. But, Uhtred is now sworn to Wessex and its King. So when his former, yet brief, friend arrives with a small fleet of ships to hunt down Alfred, Uhtred’s loyalties are tested yet again. “Svien looked magnificent, a silver white warrior. He rode a white horse, wore a white woollen cloak, and his mail and boar snouted helmet had been scrubbed with sand until they glowed silver in the watery sunlight.” Alfred’s kingdom now hangs by the edge of Uhtred’s sword and its fate will be determined in another shield wall. Bernard Cornwell does another amazing job at evoking inner character conflict and divided loyalties. His characterisation of Uhtred is marvellous. We know where he will eventually end up but, somehow, the prospect of reading how he gets there is more exciting than the situation in the first place. The Saxon Stories 1. The Last Kingdom- A fine five stars 2. The Pale Horsman- -A brilliant five stars 3.Lords of the North-A vengeful four stars 4.Sword Song- A familiar four stars 5.The Burning Land- A loyal five stars 6. Death of Kings A mighty five stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Em Lost In Books

    "There comes a moment in life when we see ourselves as others see us. I suppose that is part of growing up, and it is not always comfortable." I read The Last Kingdom in 2015, while a book it didn't like enough to continue the series. Fast forward 2017, I started watching Vikings and I liked it very much, that in turn made me come back to this series. While the History's Viking has a different plot than this but the theme of Danes' invasion of England is where both match. I am very happy tha "There comes a moment in life when we see ourselves as others see us. I suppose that is part of growing up, and it is not always comfortable." I read The Last Kingdom in 2015, while a book it didn't like enough to continue the series. Fast forward 2017, I started watching Vikings and I liked it very much, that in turn made me come back to this series. While the History's Viking has a different plot than this but the theme of Danes' invasion of England is where both match. I am very happy that I came back and read this book because I loved it. This book started with Uhtred's return to England. High on his win over Danish leader Ubba Lothbrokson, Uhtred was expecting high praise and reward from Alfred, King of Wessex but nothing of that sort happened. Instead he gets to know that Odda the Younger has taken the credit of Lothbrokson’s death. Uhtred was furious and angry, and thus he decided to wait for the day when Danes would defeat England and he would gladly join them and take revenge for the insult that he got from Saxons. But what Uhtred wanted never became reality instead he reached at a point where he had to pick a side and he ended up being a Saxon and winning the war for Alfred. This book was full of battles, and tells us how faithful Alfred was to Church. Even on the brink of defeat and death he didn’t forget his religion and did what he thought wise in terms of Church’s teachings. But it is Uhtred who made this book memorable for me. Poor lad tried so hard to go back to Danes but every time situation brought him back to England. Also his transformation from an arrogant and proud young man to skilled warrior, and a leader was amazing. His relationship with Alfred grew gradually, where they both hated each other first but slowly became friends and started trusting it each other. It was a treat to read. I am definitely ready to see what is next for Uhtred.

  5. 4 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    The Pale Horseman is the excellent continuation of Uhtred of Bebbanburg's story. Set between 876 - 878 AD, Uhtred is now in his early 20's, having proven himself as a man and a warrior. He's fought in a shield wall, killed Ubba in one on one combat, and has sworn an oath to the Saxon king Alfred. Uhtred believes life revolves around fighting, women, ale, and creating a reputation. Uhtred has a reputation now, but it is not always glowing as he is as misunderstood as he is feared. He's a complex The Pale Horseman is the excellent continuation of Uhtred of Bebbanburg's story. Set between 876 - 878 AD, Uhtred is now in his early 20's, having proven himself as a man and a warrior. He's fought in a shield wall, killed Ubba in one on one combat, and has sworn an oath to the Saxon king Alfred. Uhtred believes life revolves around fighting, women, ale, and creating a reputation. Uhtred has a reputation now, but it is not always glowing as he is as misunderstood as he is feared. He's a complex lead character that I can't get enough of following. He's half Saxon and half Danish, however, his loyalties lie with the Saxon's here, although he is extremely fond of his brother and friend, the Danish Earl Ragnar, and I loved the page time that they shared together. "When I was twenty I considered myself a full-grown man. I had fathered a child, fought in the shield wall, and was loath to take advice from anyone." Following The Last Kingdom's climactic battle with the Danes at Cynuit, Uhtred wishes to return to his family and his estate instead of returning to King Alfred with Ubba's war axe and banner to claim the victory and the spoils that come with it. In Uhtred's absence, the slimy lord Odda the Younger claims to have led the Saxons to their victory and to have bested Ubba himself. When Uhtred returns to Winchester he is shocked to see that there has been no mention of his extremely influential input to the events of the battle. Uhtred's longtime friend Father Beocca was not even aware that Uhtred had escaped from being a hostage of Guthrum. Odda's weaving of events to paint himself in a perfect light, the fact he glosses over Uhtred's importance completely, and that none of Odda's followers are willing to contradict him even though they know the truth of the matter, really pisses Uhtred off. Uhtred expresses his dissatisfaction as only a man as headstrong as the lord of Bebbanburg can and unsheaths his sword in the King's chamber in the presence of all the men of influence in Wessex. Uhtred should have received a hero's welcome but what he gets is anything but, planting a seed of loathing and an atmosphere of discord. "We make much in this life if we are able. We make children and wealth and amass land and build halls and assemble armies and give great feasts, but only one thing survives us. Reputation. I could not walk away." Uhtred's dream is to take back his rightful home of Bebbanburg where his uncle unlawfully sits as Ealderman. He realises that by following Alfred and giving his blood, sweat, and tears to the monarch isn't going to make him the silver to raise an army to complete his objective. So, alongside the gruff warrior Leofric, Uhtred and some followers decide to take one of the King's ships, to dress it up as a Viking raider, and to do some raiding themselves under the disguise of being Danes. During The Pale Horseman, there are expertly crafted battles, skirmishes and duels that are gripping to read about. We are introduced to fine new characters such as the lord of war Svein, the Shadow Queen Iseult, and the loyal but dim warrior Steopa. My personal favourites from the first novel such as Leofric and Young Ragnar shine here too although in some cases have limited page time. Characters relations change and develop finely through Uhtred's unique, honest, and extremely personal first-person perspective. I trust and understand Uhtred's opinions and plans however reckless they seem or provoking they are to the church of the crown. The Pale Horseman was more of the same of what I adored in The Last Kingdom, however, if all of the novels in this series are so similar then I can see myself getting a bit bored about halfway through the series. I hope that doesn't happen and that Cornwell continues to present exciting, action-packed historical fiction during the next stages of Uhtred's life whilst keeping it fresh and interesting enough to keep me intrigued. A huge positive for these novels, so far, is that at around 300-400 pages, I am able to race through them in a couple of days. I have Lords of the North already loaded on my Kindle and am ready to start reading that today to rejoin Uhtred in the front row of the shield wall. Fate is inexorable. "The fear came then. The shield wall is a terrible place. It is where a warrior makes his reputation, and reputation is dear to us. Reputation is honour, but to gain that honour a man must stand in the shield wall where death runs rampant. I had been in the shield wall at Cynuit and I knew the smell of death, the stink of it, the uncertainty of survival, the horror of the axes and swords and spears, and I feared it. And it was coming."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    "For here starts war, carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl." A fragile peace still holds in the realms of Britain. After the forces of Wessex prevailed at Cynuit, the Danes have pulled back. King Alfred thinks himself safe, but in truth the last kingdom of the Saxons is in grave peril... Writing a sequel to an amazing novel can sometimes be amazingly hard. Bernard Cornwell fulfilled that task with style, and in the process created my personal favourite Uhtred novel and proved himself a master "For here starts war, carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl." A fragile peace still holds in the realms of Britain. After the forces of Wessex prevailed at Cynuit, the Danes have pulled back. King Alfred thinks himself safe, but in truth the last kingdom of the Saxons is in grave peril... Writing a sequel to an amazing novel can sometimes be amazingly hard. Bernard Cornwell fulfilled that task with style, and in the process created my personal favourite Uhtred novel and proved himself a master of historical fiction. The Last Kingdom was an amazing book, but this is where this became one of my favourite series and Cornwell one of my favourite authors. Uhtred must fight the hardest duel of his life against a truly formidable opponent, a strong Danish invasion catches the people of Wessex completely by surprise, and Alfred must hide in a swamp to avoid falling with his kingdom. All appears to be lost, including the fight to retake England from the Danes. But the unlikely allies Uhtred and Alfred refuse to give up, and they will do whatever must be done to take their land back from the invaders. And I saw that Cippanhamm was burning. Smoke was darkening the winter sky and the horison was filled with men, mounted men, men with swords and axes and shields and spears and banners, and more horsemen were coming from the eastern gate to thunder across the bridge. Because all Alfred’s prayers had gone wrong and the Danes had come to Wessex.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    This one took a lot longer to get going than book one but the second half and the ending were very good. The religious overtones to everything Alfred does makes me want to root for the Danes as does the corruption of many of the priests.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dana Ilie

    Great book I promise to review as soon as possible

  9. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    Oh Bernard, how do you do what you do? If I could write like this man, well, I'd be one very happy chick. And I do not want to write like this to make money, or make fans, or make myself famous, I just want to have this skill for myself, to know that I can do it, to know that I can create magic on paper, although, Bernard Cornwell, in this series at least, is more than merely skilled, he is an absolute master. Would it be presumptuous of me to say that I think that he is a writer's writer? or mo Oh Bernard, how do you do what you do? If I could write like this man, well, I'd be one very happy chick. And I do not want to write like this to make money, or make fans, or make myself famous, I just want to have this skill for myself, to know that I can do it, to know that I can create magic on paper, although, Bernard Cornwell, in this series at least, is more than merely skilled, he is an absolute master. Would it be presumptuous of me to say that I think that he is a writer's writer? or more precisely, a fantasy writer's writer? I can understand that some people may not appreciate this character and these Saxon books, but I just GET IT. I just totally get it. To me there is no flaw in Cornwell's writing or storytelling in this series. His dialogue is pitch perfect, his story flow and description is natural and not in the slightest bit contrived. And as I said, I just totally get it. Cornwell is a little heavy on the anti-Christian vibe and this may turn people off a bit, but I get that too, because they were heavy on God back then. Do you really think they would burn pagans and heretics alive etc etc.. if the Church wasn't rife with screwy, religious zealots? Christianity dominated society and thought. Built civilisations and brought them down. People feared the Church and the Churchmen. They did not gain this reputation throughout history by being patient and loving of all men and women. To me, early Christianity in England wasn't about love and tolerance and goodness and peace and forgiveness, it was about greed and power and survival. About jostling for King's favour and for wealth and fame. The description of Christianity in this book might be off putting for some, but I think it is an accurate portrayal of those times. But, please forgive me fellow reviewers, perhaps I am just a cynic. I am a woman, and I can see how these books may be too brutal and bloody for my fellow sex, or those of either sex who are oblivious to the subtle bluntness of Cornwell's storytelling and Cornwell's arrogant, uncomplicated male characters. I imagine quite a lot does go over people's heads. I also imagine that when some women read about "guts spooling about his feet" they cringe and run away. But, while I am all feminine woman, I also have a very definite female side and very definite masculine side, and this character and Cornwell's style very much appeals to the latter, my masculine side. My masculine side wants to don a helmet and mail and fight beside Uhtred in the shield wall, while my female side wants to (editing out x-rated thoughts here...ahem....)and also hold his horse and his hoard while he draws Wasp-Sting and locks his shield in the fighting line. Of course, being his female companion or his male companion could get me a sword to the head or a spear to the gut, but hey, wouldn't I get to go to Valhalla and party in the feast hall? As a man, yep, as a woman?? Nah, but I'd die with a smile on my face. Uhtred makes me laugh. I like him and I get him. Maybe that is all I should have written in this review, it may have been, in it's simplicity, ample comment as I move onto the review of the next book in the series...Lords of the North.

  10. 5 out of 5

    William Gwynne

    After finishing The Last Kingdom, I immediately dived into this second instalment. Uhtred is already a brilliant, unique protagonist who I could not wait to accompany through more trials and tribulations. Whilst The Last Kingdom was by all means great, I would say that The Pale Horseman took a whole step up. Cornwell in this has built on an already solid cast of charters, providing more brilliant action sequences and pushing forward the plot, all whilst making me more emotionally engaged. Full Rev After finishing The Last Kingdom, I immediately dived into this second instalment. Uhtred is already a brilliant, unique protagonist who I could not wait to accompany through more trials and tribulations. Whilst The Last Kingdom was by all means great, I would say that The Pale Horseman took a whole step up. Cornwell in this has built on an already solid cast of charters, providing more brilliant action sequences and pushing forward the plot, all whilst making me more emotionally engaged. Full Review to Come

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    THE PALE HORSEMEN is the second book in the Cornwell series focusing on England before it was England. Unlike the first book, there's less fighting and more political maneuvering and focus on relationships. HISTORY: at this time England was something of a bunch of Saxon Kingdoms. Seven, if memory serves. The Saxons had actually taken most of the Kingdom from the Britons & Welsh and had held a good chunk for several hundred years. Now, it's the late 800s and the Danes are seriously beating the Sa THE PALE HORSEMEN is the second book in the Cornwell series focusing on England before it was England. Unlike the first book, there's less fighting and more political maneuvering and focus on relationships. HISTORY: at this time England was something of a bunch of Saxon Kingdoms. Seven, if memory serves. The Saxons had actually taken most of the Kingdom from the Britons & Welsh and had held a good chunk for several hundred years. Now, it's the late 800s and the Danes are seriously beating the Saxons up. The first book opens with only one Saxon Kingdom remaining and the others having already fallen. Tale focuses on a young man, who was raised by Danes and appreciates many of their values, but, for various reasons from the first book, he has chosen to side with the remaining Saxon Kingdom, Wessex. This is a good tale for those interested in, well, shield wall warfare, lusty adventuring and a perspective on the Saxon and Danish viewpoints. Also, the take on the future Alfred the Great is interesting b/c the main character has no love for him. And, that's funny because Alfred is the only male monarch of England to be termed the great . .. all for him holding England together. Look for the legend where a fishwife chews out Alfred the Great, not knowing who he is, when he burns her cakes. Also look for the shadow wife. And don't forget Guthrum. Some favorite dialogues below the grading. STORY/PLOTTING: A minus; CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: A minus to A; BATTLE SCENES: A minus; EVOKING THE ERA: A minus; OVERALL GRADE: A minus; WHEN READ: 2010 (revised review end of April 2013).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Athena Shardbearer

    I can't even...... ----------------------------------------------------------------------- "And I looked," Pyrlig said to me, "and I saw a pale horse, and the rider's name was death," You like Viking? You like badasses like my boyfriends, Uhtred?? You want a GOOD STORY????? THEN READ THIS BOOK!!!!!! Also, I think its safe to say that buying all the books in the series before finishing the first one was a wise choice... I can't even...... ----------------------------------------------------------------------- "And I looked," Pyrlig said to me, "and I saw a pale horse, and the rider's name was death," You like Viking? You like badasses like my boyfriends, Uhtred?? You want a GOOD STORY????? THEN READ THIS BOOK!!!!!! Also, I think its safe to say that buying all the books in the series before finishing the first one was a wise choice...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    "REINVIGORATE, MAN!" I shouted, then calmly began my review. Cornwell always does a decent job of adding in just enough historical detail, both physical and immediate, to the story as well as historic and atmospheric for the background. Then he layers on his stock, misunderstood hero regardless of time or place and serves up another entertaining action/adventure story. Hard to argue with a winning recipe, other than the argument that the palette desires something new sooner or later, and that th "REINVIGORATE, MAN!" I shouted, then calmly began my review. Cornwell always does a decent job of adding in just enough historical detail, both physical and immediate, to the story as well as historic and atmospheric for the background. Then he layers on his stock, misunderstood hero regardless of time or place and serves up another entertaining action/adventure story. Hard to argue with a winning recipe, other than the argument that the palette desires something new sooner or later, and that the chef needs to stretch himself occasionally to reinvigorate his passion.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. There is a thing called the blood feud. All societies have them, even the West Saxons have them, despite their vaunted piety. Kill a member of my family and I shall kill one of yours, and so it goes on, generation after generation or until one family is all dead, and Kjartan had just wished a blood feud on himself. I did not know how, I did not know where, I could not know when, but I would revenge Ragnar. I swore it that night. This quote, from The Last Kingdom, was the moment when I couldn't pe There is a thing called the blood feud. All societies have them, even the West Saxons have them, despite their vaunted piety. Kill a member of my family and I shall kill one of yours, and so it goes on, generation after generation or until one family is all dead, and Kjartan had just wished a blood feud on himself. I did not know how, I did not know where, I could not know when, but I would revenge Ragnar. I swore it that night. This quote, from The Last Kingdom, was the moment when I couldn't peel my eyes away from the book. It was an emotionally impactful, character-defining, incredible part of the story. This is a book 2 in a series in every sense of the word. The climax of this saga has not yet been reached, and I'm an impatient reader so I'm taking off a star. *If* there were events in this book that interconnect and impact book 3 in a meaningful way I will raise my rating to 5 stars. Vengeance has not been achieved, and I'm still craving Kjartan & Sven's blood. Fortunately events at the end of The Pale Horseman shifted the tides and just going by the title of the next book I'm hopeful Uhtred will be out of Wessex soon. It's clear Uhtred's ultimate goal is to regain Bebbanburg, but Uhtred's separation from Bebbanburg was not as emotional for me as the slaughter of (view spoiler)[Ragnar's family (hide spoiler)] . I'm trusting the author to pull through on the blood feud as well as Uhtred's attempts to regain Bebbanburg. I'm not as excited as Uhtred for him to regain Bebbanburg at the moment. I'm hoping the author will pull all of this together. “He will give you power,” she said flatly. I stared at her and she gazed to where the clouds met the waves. Her black hair was unbound and the sea wind stirred it. “My brother told me,” she said. “Alfred will give you power and you will take back your northern home and your woman will be a creature of gold.” “My woman?” She looked at me and there was sadness in her face. “There,” she said, “now you know,” and she kicked back her heels and made the horse run along the ridgetop, her hair streaming, her eyes wet with tears. I wanted to know more, but she said she had told me what she had dreamed and I must be content. Iseult was mystical. I admire Cornwell's ability to craft nuanced, multifaceted, and powerful female characters. I'm by no means a history buff, so for those who are this may be a question they already easily know, but I'm wondering if Uhtred is destined to be either with Æthelflæd or Thyra. Æthelflæd seems much too highborn and much too young, but there has been foreshadowing that her fate is entwined with Uhtred's. I also think back to The Last Kingdom when Ravn suggested Uhtred should marry Thyra. Uhtred often reminisced about always remembering Thyra spinning. I can't help but think that connects to the theme of destiny that runs through this series: Ravn told me time and again that destiny was everything. Fate rules. The three spinners sit at the foot of the tree of life and they make our lives and we are their playthings, and though we think we make our own choices, all our fates are in the spinners’ threads. Destiny is everything, and that day, though I did not know it, my destiny was spun. Wyrd bi imageful a image ræd, fate is unstoppable."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wilja Wiedenhöft

    Destiny is all..

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Executive Summary: Another enjoyable Historical Fiction book that I probably would have liked a bit better if I hadn't already known what was coming from watching the TV show. I'm really looking forward to book three now. Full Review In retrospect I wish I had read this book before watching The Last Kingdom. I had no idea that a 10 episode season would cover two books. That's partly because they glossed over half of the first book, and partly because they cut a lot of detail out. I had been hop Executive Summary: Another enjoyable Historical Fiction book that I probably would have liked a bit better if I hadn't already known what was coming from watching the TV show. I'm really looking forward to book three now. Full Review In retrospect I wish I had read this book before watching The Last Kingdom. I had no idea that a 10 episode season would cover two books. That's partly because they glossed over half of the first book, and partly because they cut a lot of detail out. I had been hoping that much like the first book, I'd get a lot of extra plot and detail the show left out. While that is true, it was not nearly as much as the first book had. Much of the first season seemed to heavily focus on the major events of this book rather than the one it's named for. The writing is excellent. The battles are interesting without being dragged out too long. The politics seem believable. Unfortunately for me though, none of the plot developments were a surprise. I knew what was going to happen. It kind of felt like a reread. I read this while traveling to/from Las Vegas last week, so instead of reading it over a long stretch of time, I did it in two long sittings. As such, I'm not really sure what else to write. It all sort of blurred together a bit. Overall, I enjoyed it, but mostly I'm looking forward to getting past the show and reading about what comes next.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Set between 876 - 878 AD, the Second Saxon Stories novel follows Uhtred’s life in he’s early twenties. I really liked how the book covered a much shorter timespan than the previous volume, I felt that I got to know Uhtred more as a character. This series is getting better and better!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    A worthy follow up to its predecessor. Bernard Cornwell, apart from having a talent for writing epic duels and battles, is also proving to be a great story teller. I loved all the new characters he added and enjoyed revisiting the old ones, including the Danes. Uhtred's arc was fun. Mainly because he's becoming a great warrior and we get to see him build his reputation. Proud and arrogant, fearless and unpredictable and thus respected and feared. But now he is also growing into a leader and a A worthy follow up to its predecessor. Bernard Cornwell, apart from having a talent for writing epic duels and battles, is also proving to be a great story teller. I loved all the new characters he added and enjoyed revisiting the old ones, including the Danes. Uhtred's arc was fun. Mainly because he's becoming a great warrior and we get to see him build his reputation. Proud and arrogant, fearless and unpredictable and thus respected and feared. But now he is also growing into a leader and a tactician. He is starting to accumulate skills, knowledge and experience that he may need to fulfill what he believes to be his destiny: to retake Bebbanburg, his home. We get to see Uhtred's character grow, experience victory, loss, grief and sometimes even sympathy. The dynamic between him and Alfred was great. As was his relationship with several other characters like Leofric, Isseult, Steapa, Ragnar and others. I'm excited to see what fate has in store for Uhtred, son of Uhred. Destiny is all.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    The second series in the Saxon chronicles - picking up where The Last Kingdom left off- 9the century England and Uhtred go's raiding into Conrwall and though hired by Briton king Peredur, to defend his kingdom against the Danish chieftain Svein of the White Horse, he teams up with Svein and kills Peredur, pillaging his kingdom and capturing Peredur's Queen, the beguiling and strikingly beautiful Pagan priestess and shadow Queen. He rescues several fascinating women including the spunky red-haire The second series in the Saxon chronicles - picking up where The Last Kingdom left off- 9the century England and Uhtred go's raiding into Conrwall and though hired by Briton king Peredur, to defend his kingdom against the Danish chieftain Svein of the White Horse, he teams up with Svein and kills Peredur, pillaging his kingdom and capturing Peredur's Queen, the beguiling and strikingly beautiful Pagan priestess and shadow Queen. He rescues several fascinating women including the spunky red-haired prostitute Eanflæd, and the lovely nun, Hild at Cippanhamm. This book, unlike its predecessor, explores the characters of several fascinating women, which was a great bonus here. Much of the novel revolves around Uhtred's divided loyalties between the Danes he grew up among, and the Saxons of which he was born into. He serves the West Saxon King Arthur, but despises Arhur, described in this series as weak and neurotically pious. We also explore the rivalry between Christianity and paganism in the England of this time. The novel climaxes with the famous Battle of Ethandun where Arthur, with the indispensable help of Uhtred takes back Wessex from the Danish hordes. An eventful and exciting novel taking us back into Cornwell's recreation of 9th century England.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    The Pale Horseman gets a solid 4 stars. BC is a very good writer but I’m not feeling like he is stretching himself here. Not that his writing is flawed, no way. I could not put this book down and just raced through it. I thought his battle scenes were as bloody and chaotic and good as ever. His characters were likeable or despicable and you do care about them. But it seemed too much of a template to get 5 stars. His main character, Uhtred, is a young rebellious youth, much like the main protagon The Pale Horseman gets a solid 4 stars. BC is a very good writer but I’m not feeling like he is stretching himself here. Not that his writing is flawed, no way. I could not put this book down and just raced through it. I thought his battle scenes were as bloody and chaotic and good as ever. His characters were likeable or despicable and you do care about them. But it seemed too much of a template to get 5 stars. His main character, Uhtred, is a young rebellious youth, much like the main protagonist, Derfel, in BC’s Arthur trilogy. He felt almost like the same guy. I wanted some more originality, like we see with the excellent priest, Father Pyrlig, who shows up in the last part of this book. I want more of him. Here is Pyrlig’s advice to the overly pious King Alfred on the eve of the big battle with the Danes. “If you had an army of angels, lord, “ Pyrlig went on, “then a rousing speech about God and Saint Augustine would doubtless fire their ardor, but you have to fight with mere men, and there’s nothing quite like greed, revenge and selfishness to inspire mortals.” BC gives such an excellent idea about what it must have been like to live, fight and die in the Ninth Century. Uhtred, his main character, is a Saxon, raised by the Danes, who later is fighting with and against the Danes, depending on the circumstances. BC brings to life the cold, wet, miserable, hungry, tired England of the era, nearly disappearing under the weight and ferocity of the Danish forces. His portrayal of a real king, Alfred the Great, is interesting because Alfred is neither likeable nor very competent in this story. Most of the Christian clergy is painted in very poor tones, a bunch of selfish, egotistical, thieving, greedy, ugly crooks in black habits. Probably accurate too. BC is at his best talking about the fighting men and how they may have viewed their world: There is such joy in a good ship, and a greater joy to have the ship’s belly fat with other men’s silver. It is the Viking joy, driving a dragon-headed hull through a wind-driven sea toward a future full of feasts and laughter. The Danes taught me that and I love them for it, pagan swine though they might be. At that moment, running before Svein’s White Horse, I was happy as a man could be, free of all the churchmen and laws and duties of Alfred’s Wessex… Here is Uhtred as he leads his men on a sortie into the enemies’ waters to plunder: “…I’m a lord! I’m right and I’m going to be rich! We’re all going to be rich! We shall eat off gold plates, piss down our enemies’ throats, and make their wives into our whores.” I was shouting this nonsense as I walked down the boat’s center, casting off the sail’s lashings. “We’ll all be rich with silver shoes and golden bonnets. We’ll be richer than kings! We’ll wallow in silver, shower our whores with gold, and shit lumps of amber! Tie those oars up! Plug the holes, we’re going north, we’re going to be rich as bishops, every man of us!” The men were grinning, pleased because I was roaring my enthusiasm, and men like to be led. If you’re looking for a rousing read, you can’t go wrong with this one.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Wow! That last 50 pages or so were awesome...That's just an estimate, since I listened to the audio and didn't have the page count right in front of me. After several disappointing endings in books lately, this was refreshing. The finish actually brought my rating up, instead of the opposite as some have done recently. I've long heard that Bernard Cornwell is the best at describing battles. If I wasn't convinced already, I am now. Wow! That last 50 pages or so were awesome...That's just an estimate, since I listened to the audio and didn't have the page count right in front of me. After several disappointing endings in books lately, this was refreshing. The finish actually brought my rating up, instead of the opposite as some have done recently. I've long heard that Bernard Cornwell is the best at describing battles. If I wasn't convinced already, I am now.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    **RTC This isn't just a war over land, it's a war about God. And Alfred...is Christ's servant... The shield wall is a terrible place. It is where a warrior makes his reputation, and reputation is dear to us. **RTC This isn't just a war over land, it's a war about God. And Alfred...is Christ's servant... The shield wall is a terrible place. It is where a warrior makes his reputation, and reputation is dear to us.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a wonderful second novel in The Saxon Stories series. The young English nobleman Uhtred, captured and raised by the Danes, is called upon by King Alfred to save his kingdom from the Danes. King Alfred is just learning about human nature, and does not recognize when his enemies are being deceptive. But he is smart, and he learns from his mistakes. Uhtred is a warrior, and he is very good. He revels in his fight. He yearns for battle, with incredible enthusiasm. But he is still young and so This is a wonderful second novel in The Saxon Stories series. The young English nobleman Uhtred, captured and raised by the Danes, is called upon by King Alfred to save his kingdom from the Danes. King Alfred is just learning about human nature, and does not recognize when his enemies are being deceptive. But he is smart, and he learns from his mistakes. Uhtred is a warrior, and he is very good. He revels in his fight. He yearns for battle, with incredible enthusiasm. But he is still young and sometimes impetuous and foolish. Sometimes he takes big risks, but he when he can see the big picture, his risks can pay off. While this series has some strong analogies to The Game of Thrones, this book is actually more violent. And, there is no supernatural in this series. It is probably very true to history. However, the fascinating thing is that everybody believes in the supernatural. When Uhtred's lover is considered to be a sorceress, in fact she is just a healer. But, she herself cannot tell the difference between which aspects of her healing ritual are truly healing, and which are simply superstition. It does not matter whether or not there are supernatural happenings--everybody believes in the supernatural, anyway. I did not read this book. I listened to the audiobook. The narration by Jonathan Keeble is superb. He brings a subtle, understated tone to his voice. It is especially surprising when he reads about the characters' attitude toward violence, in an understated, mild tone of voice that it is almost shocking to our modern sensibilities.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    This was a brutal read. I love historical fiction when it gets real like this. The characters were vivid and realistic. The author understands the era and how to bring us into it. All of the basic themes are present, betrayal, revenge, cruelty, heroism etc. The story never really slows down- it's pace is consistent with a building sensation towards the end. This was a good, brutal read. So far this series is a go-to consistently good read that I will return to from time to time. This was a brutal read. I love historical fiction when it gets real like this. The characters were vivid and realistic. The author understands the era and how to bring us into it. All of the basic themes are present, betrayal, revenge, cruelty, heroism etc. The story never really slows down- it's pace is consistent with a building sensation towards the end. This was a good, brutal read. So far this series is a go-to consistently good read that I will return to from time to time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Uhtred the warrior lord must decide whether to help the Saxon King Alfred to defend the kingdom of Wessex against the invading Danes. An entertaining adventure, full of action and leading to a spectacular battle scene, this was a gripping read. The time and place are brilliantly evoked, conveying what it was like to live in 9th century Wessex, as different tribes fought for supremacy, and Christianity took on the pagan gods. The main problem for me is that Uhtred is a bit of a cartoon character. Uhtred the warrior lord must decide whether to help the Saxon King Alfred to defend the kingdom of Wessex against the invading Danes. An entertaining adventure, full of action and leading to a spectacular battle scene, this was a gripping read. The time and place are brilliantly evoked, conveying what it was like to live in 9th century Wessex, as different tribes fought for supremacy, and Christianity took on the pagan gods. The main problem for me is that Uhtred is a bit of a cartoon character. I am assured by those that love the series that he develops through the later books, both in his own qualities and in his relationship with others. So far, however, I've only seen greed, selfishness, a willingness to lie and to betray those who put their trust in him, and a truculent dislike of anyone in authority (especially priests). Alfred is a more complex and well-developed character at this stage, and I did enjoy the shifts in his relationship with Uhtred. Cornwell also uses humour and irony well - Uhtred's outrage when anyone else behaves as opportunistically as he does is genuinely amusing. Worth reading for the battles and the history, great for plot, but disappointing (for me) main character.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Natasa

    This is the second of the series but you can read it standing alone and it still makes a complete story because the events in this book are of vital importance in the life of Alfred The Great. In fact, these are the events that made him what he is. There is enough adventure, betrayal, oaths, and loyalty that was the seal of the people of that time and the constant struggle of the priests, bishops and church to gather riches and people to them while influencing the King and rulers! Full review yo This is the second of the series but you can read it standing alone and it still makes a complete story because the events in this book are of vital importance in the life of Alfred The Great. In fact, these are the events that made him what he is. There is enough adventure, betrayal, oaths, and loyalty that was the seal of the people of that time and the constant struggle of the priests, bishops and church to gather riches and people to them while influencing the King and rulers! Full review you can find on my blog: https://poetryofreading.blogspot.com/...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    I just wanted to take the time to mention just how much I'm enjoying this series to date and to thank all the readers who have recommended this series to me over the years.....Loving this stirring series of a bygone era. Well crafted with a wonderful hero in Uhtred, and a superb cast of supporting characters. Time and money well spent. I just wanted to take the time to mention just how much I'm enjoying this series to date and to thank all the readers who have recommended this series to me over the years.....Loving this stirring series of a bygone era. Well crafted with a wonderful hero in Uhtred, and a superb cast of supporting characters. Time and money well spent.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    What a fun series this is turning out to be. I read the first book in this series and then proceeded to binge watch every single episode of the TV version on Netflix in less than one day. From having already seen the episodes this book covers, I knew what was going to happen. It was a pleasant surprise that this wasn't exactly the TV version. So there were new elements. I loved the MC. He was a strong POV and it comes through in vivid and rich way. What's not to love? I have the next one in the s What a fun series this is turning out to be. I read the first book in this series and then proceeded to binge watch every single episode of the TV version on Netflix in less than one day. From having already seen the episodes this book covers, I knew what was going to happen. It was a pleasant surprise that this wasn't exactly the TV version. So there were new elements. I loved the MC. He was a strong POV and it comes through in vivid and rich way. What's not to love? I have the next one in the series, but won't be getting to it until next month.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Willow

    I have read all the books so far in Cornwell’s Saxon series, and this is my favorite book so far. Of course, since I loved “The Last Kingdom” so much, I almost couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, and then read it in two days. What can I say; I just adore mean old Uhtred, despite his flaws and his sometimes unethical behavior. I do believe one of Cornwell's flaws is he doesn’t write the best female characters, but I find his male characters so interesting and fun, it doesn’t bother me much. I th I have read all the books so far in Cornwell’s Saxon series, and this is my favorite book so far. Of course, since I loved “The Last Kingdom” so much, I almost couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, and then read it in two days. What can I say; I just adore mean old Uhtred, despite his flaws and his sometimes unethical behavior. I do believe one of Cornwell's flaws is he doesn’t write the best female characters, but I find his male characters so interesting and fun, it doesn’t bother me much. I think the history behind this book is fascinating. What Alfred the Great did in beating back the Danes and holding onto Wessex is absolutely amazing. Cornwell describes it so vividly too. So yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Man, I love the Adventures of Uhtred And His Poor Decisions! This one really makes Alfred come off like an asshole, and a very disloyal one. No matter what Uhtred does, literally giving up lives and risking his own to restore Alfred to the throne, one whisper of "He's a PAGAN!" in Alfred's ear sends Alfred through the roof. Note: The reader for this reads everything in a super gruff voice that at times seems almost painful. I both enjoyed it and found it slightly comical. Man, I love the Adventures of Uhtred And His Poor Decisions! This one really makes Alfred come off like an asshole, and a very disloyal one. No matter what Uhtred does, literally giving up lives and risking his own to restore Alfred to the throne, one whisper of "He's a PAGAN!" in Alfred's ear sends Alfred through the roof. Note: The reader for this reads everything in a super gruff voice that at times seems almost painful. I both enjoyed it and found it slightly comical.

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