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The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell
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2,150564,560 (3.98)49



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English (52)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
This second book of The Saxon Stories sees Uhtred doing some roving before he ends up in the swamp with Alfred, one of the more famous incidents in Alfred's long rule. Uhtred is still more pagan than Christian, much to Alfred's dismay. He gets in trouble, falls in love, and fights the Danes when he isn't allying himself with them.
Mr. Cornwall is one of the great historical fiction authors and his abilities are on display in The Pale Horseman. Uhtred has a dry sense of humor that contrasts sharply with Alfred's piety and often makes me laugh.
The battle scenes are amazing; the reader can feel the fear and battle lust in the fighting. Another great book in a wonderful series. ( )
  N.W.Moors | Aug 6, 2018 |
This book is the second of the Saxon Series. It follows the first very well and ties in many of the characters. I enjoyed the way that Cornwell introduces new characters and scenes. He is very good at descriptive narrative. There are a few times where it becomes repetitive, but all in all, a great book ( )
  VoodooYeager | Jun 15, 2018 |
I found this second book in the series compelling but insulting.

The historical elements are rich enough to taste and give the story a texture that places the reader back over a thousand years ago in a world that would be alien to us. I loved the historical notes at the end of the book, and the attention to historical authenticity in the Battle of Ethandun. I disagree with some other reviewers in that I believe Uhtread was a good choice for a main character. As a Saxon adopted by Danes, he was privy to both worlds; as a warrior, he had firsthand accounts of events that changed 9th Century England. It is a stretch to believe that one person would be witness to all these events, but I’ll give the author leeway in order to get a compelling story. In addition, most of the characters have depth, are compelling, and have unique voices.

However, I find the anti-Christian bias more than distasteful. I can understand that Uhtred, having been raised by Danes, clings to the Norse gods, especially since their warrior code justifies and compels Uhtred’s barbaric actions. I can also understand that since the story is told from his point of view, that the story will have this bias, but please: it’s been taken to an extreme. Every Christian portrayed in the story is either an idiot, a jerk, or a hypocrite. It almost seems like the priest Father Pyrlig will put Christianity in a good light, but alas, he gets it all wrong and insults the religion as well. Iseult is a British shadow queen from Cornwall, and his latest lover. She is a noble character who, despite the rejection of others, heals the king’s son at great personal loss. I was surprised at this miracle. The author had taken an strictly historical/scientific approach to this point, pooh-poohing miraculous claims by Christians (i.e. the storm sinking of the Danish fleet) while embracing the veracity of her metaphysical healing ritual.

The plot also seems to meander, literally bogging down in the swamp, during long stretches of the story. I am fascinated that the story follows the history of Alfred the Great between 876 – 878, but certain parts of the story seem like fillers between historical milestones, and these sections do not move the story along.

As for character development, I’m still waiting for Uhtread to grow up. The man is a wonton murderer and worse even by 9th Century Saxon standards, moreover, other than his military strategy, he is an idiot. Even when presented with the obvious “right” thing to do, he spurns it like an adolescent and does the opposite. It is very difficult to have character empathy for him. I agree with Beth Cato who almost wished “for his manbits to be ravaged by syphilis."

Still, like a junkie looking for his next fix, I will read the next book in the series, [b:Lords of the North The Saxon Stories 3|68526|Lords of the North (The Saxon Stories, #3)|Bernard Cornwell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1399623827s/68526.jpg|891853].
( )
  Darrell.Newton | Dec 27, 2017 |
(47) The 2nd in the Uthred series in the late 9th century (!) medieval England when the Danes invaded England and the only kingdom standing was Alfred the Great's Wessex. The Danes attack and seemingly vanquish Alfred and a band of survivors to the swamps outside of London including Uthred. This is the story of how they fight back and how Uthred comes to win back his King's favor as well as reunite with his adopted brother the Dane Earl Ragnar.

It had been awhile since I read the first installment and it took me a bit to get used to the characters but in the end it comes down to fighting, blood and guts, betrayal, greed, power -- the usual historical fiction. It really is amazing that humans (mainly men) have been slaughtering each other in the name of country, religion, tribe, etc. since time immemorial. Sigh.

So despite my snark, I was reluctantly pulled in. I love imagining what life may have been like so long ago. I am a sucker for a story well-told however hackneyed. I can put up with melodrama if I am given dramatic tension. I can stand cliche reaction if I am given authentic action. I would much rather read straightforward unadorned prose than pretentious derivative twaddle. So there you have it. I enjoyed it. Bring on Book 3! And I just may Netflix it as well. ( )
  jhowell | Nov 3, 2017 |
Cornwell whips up another rousing historical adventure tale with a straightforward warrior protagonist and the usual cast of sniveling, conniving cowards always twisting the truth to make him look bad.

This time the setting is the 9th Century Saxon-Danish wars at the time of Alfred the Great, and the action is more bloody and gruesome than in other Corwell novels I've read. Not for the fastidious.

( )
  JackMassa | Nov 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
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Bernard Cornwellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cornwell, Bernardmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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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)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.

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