Terri's Reviews > The Pale Horseman

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jan 31, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: own, historical-fiction, favorites, britain-fiction

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.
22 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Pale Horseman.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

07/06/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Mike What? I'm the first "like" on this one? Great review and I am racing through this one now. Love the story, especially as it is based on real history. BC is one heck of a writer.

Terri Thankyou for the 'like'! :) It is about bloody time!
I really enjoyed writing this review because at the time I was so pumped by this book. It is my fave of the series and I am stoked you are getting into it. :)

back to top