Series: Saxon Tales,
Published by Harper Collins on January 7th 2014
Genres: War & Military, Historical, Fiction, Action & Adventure
Reading Challenges: 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Bernard Cornwell—"the most prolific and successful historical novelist in the world today" (Wall Street Journal)—returns to his Saxon Tales saga with the epic story of divided loyalties, bloody battles, and the struggle to unite Britain.At the onset of the tenth century, England is in turmoil. Alfred the Great is dead and his son Edward reigns as king. Wessex survives but peace cannot hold: the Danes in the north, led by Viking Cnut Longsword, stand ready to invade and will never rest until the emerald crown is theirs.Uhtred, once Alfred's great warrior but now out of favor with the new king, must lead a band of outcasts north to recapture his old family home, the impregnable Northumbrian fortress Bebbanburg.Loyalties will be divided and men will fall as each Saxon kingdom is drawn into the bloodiest battle yet with the Danes—a war that will decide the fate of every king, and the entire English nation.With The Pagan Lord, New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, "the reigning king of historical fiction" (USA Today), continues his magnificent epic of the making of England during the Middle Ages, vividly bringing to life the uneasy alliances, violent combat, and deadly intrigue that gave birth to the British nation.
“Five things make a man happy,” I told him, “a good ship, a good sword, a good hound, a good horse, and a woman.” “Not a good woman?” Finan asked, amused. “They’re all good,” I said, “except when they’re not, and then they’re better than good.”
― Bernard Cornwell, The Pagan Lord
I’ve enjoyed all the Saxon Stories novels, but I believe that Bernard Cornwell really shines when he writes battle scenes. Book 7, The Pagan Lord, doesn’t disappoint. The novel ends with a wondrous battle scenes that leaves you wondering what will happen next. Aside from the ending battle, this novel takes Uhtred on a journey from a revered warlord to an outcast hellbent on reclaiming his birthright. While some may feel The Pagan Lord is a filler book, I disagree.
In this novel, Uhtred’s fortunes change, and he’s forced to face the fact that his life is almost over. Readers get to learn more about his sons as they are now grown men. The differences Uhtred noted in them as children become even more glaring in adulthood. Uhtred isn’t the only character faced with his mortality. Aethelred also wants to put pieces into play that will leave him a legend that poets will sing about forever. As Christianity continues to sweep the land, Britain’s political landscape changes, and Uhtred is left wondering if there’s still room for a pagan lord in a ever increasingly Christian England.
The novels are becoming a bit formulaic. Uhtred is riding high, prosperous, and happy. He does something rash that changes his fortunes and turn him into an outcast. Wessex needs him after the Northmen evade, and Uhtred rides to their defense. He succeeds, and returns to his former glory. All the while putting his own desires on pause. It would be nice if something would change the formula a bit, so that Uhtred is faced with new and different decisions to make. However, these novels are still highly enjoyable to read, and I’m loving every minute.
Do I Recommend?
Indeed! As much as I enjoy reading about Uhtred’s happiness with his children and Aethelflaed, I think I enjoy watching him fight his way back into the King’s good graces more. Despite being in his mid to late 50’s, Uhtred remains a force to be reckoned with. I’m excited to see what the 8th book has in store, and hope that his children will have even bigger roles to play. Since The Pagan Lord still manages to thrill, has great battle scenes, and suspenseful political intrigue I’ve given this novel 5 out of 5 stars.