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The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Chronicles…

The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Chronicles Series #2) (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Bernard Cornwell

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Title:The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Chronicles Series #2)
Authors:Bernard Cornwell
Info:HarperCollins (2006), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell (2005)



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English (46)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Bernard Cornwell cements his place as my favorite author. Supremely entertaining novel. ( )
  ko40370 | Apr 27, 2016 |
I loved it. Just loved it. Nuff said :D ( )
  Mybookfile | Mar 15, 2016 |
My second Bernard Cornwell novel - after the first in this series. It's about as much fun watching the writer at work as it is following the tale itself. He gives us little reminders and explanations, details repeated or summarized that we might have learned in volume 1 or even earlier in this book. The tale gets a little complicated sometimes so Cornwell is careful to help us stay on track. But even when you see him at work like this, it's never distracting.

I am no historian, never mind any expert on Alfred and his time. But the historical note at the end makes it clear that Cornwell has done his homework. What a grand fun way to learn a little history! Mostly I read these dense academic books that take me weeks to crawl through. This book is a grand page turner that keeps up me into the wee hours. Started yesterday, finished today! ( )
2 vote kukulaj | Dec 17, 2015 |
This the second in the Saxon Chronicles (starting with The Last Kingdom) and continues in excellent full blooded form the story of Uhtred (who still wants to regain lordship of Bebbanburgh, now known as Bamburgh) and his love/hate relationship with King Alfred of Wessex. This is both a ripping yarn, with the narrative drive of beautiful racing horse, and a well researched reconstruction from the available sources (as far as I can tell).
I was exasperated by Uhtred's pig-headed obtuseness at the beginning of this novel, especially when he rides on horseback into church to announce his victory at Cynuit (a hillfort in Somerset) to the devout and pious Alfred. However, the novel provides wonderful set pieces and subsequently shows Uhtred's character development.
The first part continues Uhtred' sea adventures as he sails to Cornwalum, meets Britons (Celts) and the beautiful Iseult.
The large second section of the novel relates mainly to King Alfred's enforced stay in the "swamps" of the Somerset levels, which are well described in their undrained state. There is also the scene when having been reunited with an old Danish friend, Uhtred realises that for all his love of the Danes (who had brought him up after killing his father in Northumbria), he can only hope to regain his land and castle at Bebbanburg as a free lord if he accepts his Saxon destiny and so helps Alfred.
The climax comes with the battle of Ethandun, which is convincingly told.

Alfred is convincingly portrayed as a complex man who would have been happy as a scholarly priest or monk, but born into a royal family has the ambition and drive to make the necessary hard decisions to try to regain his Christian kingdom, although he has doubts and weaknesses that arise from very piety that makes him consider it his destiny to preserve Christianity.
Uhtred makes a convincing pagan in a world which his fellow Saxons are fighting to keep Christian - "The world began in chaos and it will end in chaos. The gods brought the world into existence, and they will end it when they fight among themselves, but in between the chaos of the world’s birth and the chaos of the world’s death is order, and order is made by oaths, and oaths bind us like the buckles of a harness.". ( )
1 vote CarltonC | Oct 21, 2015 |
Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible.

Uhtred son of Uhtred’s adventures continue, with the wily English (but a bit Viking) warrior becoming more deeply enmeshed with King Alfred, the Wessex king he despises but whose interests he always ends up serving. The story starts off with Uhtred making his own action, as he’s bored and decides to go raiding. He ends up with considerable wealth, the witchy Iseult and BIG TROUBLE with Alfred for going rogue. But then fortunately the Danes attack, and Uhtred ends up helping Alfred out of a desperate situation—at great personal cost.

It was incredibly easy to sum up the story, and that fact in itself should give me pause. But no matter—Cornwell makes a straightforward plot into an entertaining series of battles, maneuvers and deceptions that pull you nicely into a world where the Anglo-Saxon English are desperately fighting off the invading Danes. Fighting is lovingly described blow by blow, while women are given about as much attention as a dog or horse (which is a pity because I think Cornwell could have done a whole lot more with Iseult. Now there’s a character just WAITING for Philippa Gregory.) But this is Cornwell being true to his style of story—adventure stories (mainly) for and (almost exclusively) about men, with enough historical realism and details to make you want to dive for a history book about the period (and isn’t that the point?) I love the frequent references to place-names—some of which are easily matched up with their modern counterparts while other are tantalizingly less easy to place—and laughed at the inclusion of the most famous legend about Alfred.

To me, the main drawback about these stories is that they’re too short. I find myself longing for more intricacy and detail. In addition, I wasn’t crazy about the Uhtred-goes-raiding first part of the book, which seemed a bit too like padding for my liking. But hey, I’m trying to find out what makes the blood-and-battles male side of historical fiction tick, and perhaps some of Cornwell’s ability to cut the yapping and get on with the fighting could be a useful asset to some other writers I could name, who err on the side of talking and let all their battles be fought offstage. ( )
  JaneSteen | Feb 1, 2015 |
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Ac her forlo berað; fugelas singað, gylleð grœghama.
For here starts war, carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl.
From The Fight at Finnsburh
The Pale Horseman is for George MacDonald Fraser, in admiration
George MacDonald Fraser, in admiration
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These days I look at twenty-year-olds and think they are pathetically young, scarcely weaned from their mothers' tits, but when I was twenty I considered myself a full-grown man.
These days I look at twenty-year-olds and think they are pathetically young, scarcely weaned from their mothers’ tits, but when I was twenty I considered myself a full-grown man.
Fate is inexorable.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061144835, Paperback)

The last unvanquished piece of England, Wessex is eyed hungrily by the fearsome Viking conquerors. A dispossessed young nobleman, Uhtred is tied to the imperiled land by birth and marriage but was raised by the Danish invaders—and he questions where his allegiance must lie. But blood is his destiny, and when the overwhelming Viking horde attacks out of a wintry darkness, Uhtred must put aside all hatred and distrust and stand beside his embattled country's staunch defender—the fugitive King Alfred.

The Pale Horseman is a gripping, monumental adventure that gives breathtaking life to one of the most important epochs in English history—yet another masterwork from New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:19 -0400)

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Uhtred, a dispossessed young nobleman, born a Saxon but raised by the Vikings, forms an uneasy alliance with King Alfred the Great to fight for Wessex when the kingdom is attacked by the Danish Vikings in the ninth century.

(summary from another edition)

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