Jim's Reviews > The Pale Horseman

The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell
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's review
Aug 02, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-novels
Read from August 02 to 06, 2010

We all have our little vices: Mine include historical adventure novels like Bernard Cornwell's The Pale Horseman. Set in 9th century England, at a time when most of Britain was under the control of the Danes, the second novel in the author's Saxon Tales series follows Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Northumbrian who has lived among the Vikings and actually preferred them to the pious pantywaists of Alfred the Great and his churchmen. During much of the novel, the tension is between Uhtred's yearning to rejoin the Vikings and Alfred's various attempts to use the young Pagan warrior (okay, he was baptized a Christian, but wears the hammer of Thor into combat) for his own benefit.

To be perfectly honest, The Pale Horseman is my male version of a bodice-ripper. Beautiful women swoon over the handsome young warrior, most interestingly a Briton witch named (interestingly) Iseult. There is adventure, battle, blood, guts -- all the makings of a good adventure story, as Cornwell is so adept at delivering.

The Pale Horseman sees us through Alfred's defeat at Chippenham, his retreat to the swamps of Athelney, and the rebuilding of his broken army to defeat the Viking forces of Guthrum at Ethandun. (In fact, this is a good general summary of most Cornwell novels I have read; and I have read a goodly number of them.)

If this sort of thing interests you, I recommend you start with the first novel in the series, The Last Kingdom.
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