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The Pale Horsemanby Bernard Cornwell
Synopses & Reviews
Uhtred is a Saxon, cheated of his inheritance and adrift in a world of fire, sword, and treachery. He has to make a choice: whether 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. The rest have fallen to the Danish Vikings, a story told in The Last Kingdom, the New York Times bestselling novel in which Uhtred's tale began. Now the Vikings want to finish England. They assemble the Great Army, whose one ambition is to conquer Wessex. A dispossessed young nobleman, married to a woman who hails from Wessex, Uhtred has little love for either, though for King Alfred he has none at all. Yet fate, as Uhtred learns, has its own imperatives, and when the Vikings attack out of a wintry darkness to shatter the last English kingdom, Uhtred finds himself at Alfred's side.
Bernard Cornwell's The Pale Horseman, like The Last Kingdom, is rooted in the real history of Anglo-Saxon England. It tells the astonishing and true story of how Alfred, forced to become a fugitive in a few square miles of swampland, fights his enemies against overwhelming odds. The king is a pious Christian, while Uhtred is a pagan. Alfred is a sickly scholar, while Uhtred is an arrogant warrior. Yet the two forge an uneasy alliance that will lead them out of the marshes to the stark hilltop where the last remaining Saxon army will fight for the very existence of England.
Enthralling as both a historical and personal story, The Pale Horseman is a novel of divided loyalties and desperate heroism, featuring a cast 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. From Bernard Cornwell, the New York Times bestselling author whom the Washington Post calls "perhaps the greatest writer of historical adventure novels today," 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 the English people and culture
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Historical adventures as smart and vigorous as Cornwell's are in short supply. It's good to know that more are on the way." Washington Post
"Swords, shields, mud and blood. Great stuff, as always, from the master." Kirkus Reviews
"For those who like mixing their action and adventure with sound historical research and scholarship, The Pale Horseman is as welcome as a long draught of mead or a bag of silver coins. And if you have enough of those Danish butter cookies left over from the holidays to enjoy while you're reading, so much the better." Bookreporter.com
"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." Library Journal
"[Cornwell] has a flair for choosing from the trove of facts and turning them into the brushstrokes that make the picture seem very real....The Pale Horseman is a nice addition to your bedside table for late-night reading." Philadelphia Inquirer
A crackerjack adventure tale from a master of the craft." Booklist
"[A] big-bellied, bushy-bearded tale... [Cornwell] endows the book with an unexpectedly complex, thoughtful soul." Time Magazine
"A suavely rendered tale... [brings] turbulent times to vivid life." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Entertaining" Arizona Republic
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.
About the Author
Bernard Cornwell is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Saxon Chronicles, which began with The Last Kingdom and continued with The Pale Horseman; the Richard Sharpe novels; the Grail Quest series; the Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles; the Warlord Trilogy; and many other works of fiction, including Stonehenge and Gallows Thief. Raised in Britain, Cornwell now lives with his wife on Cape Cod.
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