THE PALE HORSEMAN the compelling sequel to the bestselling THE LAST KINGDOM. Uhtred, Northumbrian born, raised a Viking and now married to a Saxon, is already a formidable figure and warrior. But at twenty he is still arrogant, pagan and headstrong, so not a comfortable ally for the thoughtful, pious Alfred. But these two, with Alfred's family ...
THE PALE HORSEMAN the compelling sequel to the bestselling THE LAST KINGDOM. Uhtred, Northumbrian born, raised a Viking and now married to a Saxon, is already a formidable figure and warrior. But at twenty he is still arrogant, pagan and headstrong, so not a comfortable ally for the thoughtful, pious Alfred. But these two, with Alfred's family and a few of Uhtred's companions, are apparently all that remains of the Wessex leadership after a disastrous truce. It is the lowest time for the Saxons. Defeated comprehensively by the Vikings who now occupy most of England, Alfred and his surviving followers retreat to the trackless marshlands of Somerset. There, forced to move restlessly to escape betrayal or detection, using the marsh mists for cover, they travel by small boats from one island to another, hoping that they can regroup and find some more strength and support. They seek refuge in Athelney, a tidal swamp to which Alfred's kingdom has shrunk. Uhtred finds himself torn between his Danish foster brother and the winning Vikings, and his growing respect for the stubborn leadership of Alfred. He must decide whether to rebuild the Saxons' strength from his watery base and help them to take on the Vikings once more. THE PALE HORSEMAN is a splendid story of divided loyalties and desperate heroism, with a wonderful range of characters from Vikings to British kings in their Cornish fortresses, from political but passionate priests to enduring fishermen and farmers desperately striving to survive as the battle sweeps over them. Uhtred and Alfred, Vikings and Saxons, are a winning combination for Bernard Cornwell.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-11-14 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. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2004-12-06 Bestseller Cornwell leaps back a millennium from his Richard Sharpe series to tell of the consolidation of England in the late ninth century and the role played by a young (fictional) warrior-in-training who's at the center of the war between Christian Englishmen and the pagan Danes. (Most of the other principal characters-Ubba, Guthrum, Ivar the Boneless and the like-are real historical figures.) Young Uhtred, who's English, falls under the control of Viking uber-warrior Ragnar the Fearless when the Dane wipes out Uhtred's Northumberland family. Cornwell liberally feeds readers history and nuggets of battle data and customs, with Uhtred's first-person wonderment spinning all into a colorful journey of (self-)discovery. In a series of episodes, Ragnar conquers three of England's four kingdoms. The juiciest segment has King Edmund of East Anglia rebuking the Viking pagans and demanding that they convert to Christianity if they intend to remain in England. After Edmund cites the example of St. Sebastian, the Danes oblige him by turning him into a latter-day Sebastian and sending him off to heaven. Uhtred's affection for Ragnar as a surrogate father grows, and he surpasses the conqueror's blood sons in valor. When father and adopted son arrive at the fourth and last kingdom, however, the Danes meet unexpected resistance and Uhtred faces personal and familial challenges, as well as a crisis of national allegiance. This is a solid adventure by a crackling good storyteller. Agent, Toby Eady. (Feb.) Forecast: Cornwell's own life served as inspiration for this novel: he, too, was orphaned (and adopted by members of a strict fundamentalist sect). Readers who followed the story of his reunion with his birth father in 2003 (while he was on tour with Sharpe's Havoc) will take special interest in the personal angle here. Four-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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