Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.95 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $4.57 shipping
The Pagan Lord: A Novel (Saxon Tales) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 7, 2014
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Fine Book in a Fine, unclipped jacket. See description and scans. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014. Stated First U.S. Edition and First Printing. Octavo, illustrated dust jacket, black boards with gilt spine imprinting, deckle fore edges, 5+ 299 pp. + 1 . Fine book in a Fine, unclipped jacket. A very sharp and collectible First / First example of Cornwell's tale of battle in the days of the Saxons v. the Danes, immediately post- Alfred the Great. See scans. This item is on premises - as always. L19n
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
If you love his books (as I do) You are almost certainly going to down-vote my review, I just ask you to hear me out before you do.
Look, I like these books. They are fun to read. This is a fine, rip-roaring page turner. Uthred is back with the usual suspects in fine style. Several new or minor characters are introduced or fleshed out. Uthred fights new battles....against insurmountable odds. He defeats his enemies through an unbelievable amount of guile, intelligence, personality, courage, military strategy, recklessness, psychology, and luck. He is often saved by luck. Often in the nick of time, luck comes to the rescue. Did I mention, Uthread's uncanny luck?
If you want a 5 star review from me you better provide more than a page turner. I want character development. I want philosophical dilemmas. I want action. I want a good story. I want characters I care about. In short, I want closer to what Bernard Cornwell gave us in his first several books in this series.
Uthread is a smart man with an abundance of understanding of both military strategy and psychology. Given the way he out-thinks both his enemies and his allies alike, Uthred must be the smartest man alive in Saxon England around the turn of the millennium.
In the early books in this series, Uthred was a complex character torn between his early Saxon roots, his Pagan, Danish upbringing, and the Saxon entanglements he found himself ensnared in as he tried to assert his destiny as lord of Bebbanburg. But as the series has progressed - dare I say aged - it has fallen into (or should I say back on??) the formula of Uthred being treated like garbage by the Saxons (in earlier books because Alfred didn't like his paganism, and more lately because he commits some avoidable and predictable transgression against the church), Uthred then fleeing to some form of penury exile, whereupon he returns - against both his desires and better judgement - to save the Saxons from their own ineptitude. Along the way he fights battles against armies numbering ten times his own, prevailing through his inestimable intellect, his warrior's sixth sense, or the cavalry riding to his defense at the eleventh (and three quarters) hour.
Look, these books are enjoyable page turners. Cornwell writes engaging action scenes - no!! He writes freaking AWESOME action scenes. They are AWESOME. They are exciting. They are BRUTAL. BUT!!!! they have become predicable, and have really seemed to have fallen into a rut of retreading the same book with a slightly different supporting cast and a different major battle against which to stage the book.
And finally (minor spoilers to follow), something that annoyed me immensely was that he decided to end this book with a cliffhanger. C'mon!!! In all his previous books he had the respect for his readers to write a self contained novel which would bring us back for the love of the story and the love of the characters. Suddenly, it's the season finale of season 7 of the Saxon Tales. What happens to the boy in Lundeen? His mother? What about the twins? Will Uthred find love with the deaf girl, what of the golden one? For that matter will Uthred find anything at all. Who shot JR?
I feel like I have to emphasize, I read this book non stop. It IS a page turner. BUT I feel like Bernard Cornwell has given up on these characters. He has found a successful formula and he is milking it.
Give Uthred some respect and/or some financial stability. Have him screw it up through some massively stupid, miscalculated (yet somehow noble) action. Have him declared "persona-non-grata" by the Saxons. Have him retreat to the Danes (actually or metaphorically) where he will not only be happier, but accepted for who he is. Have him reject the Danes and ride on his white horse to the rescue of the Saxons who revile him. Have his strategies be repudiated by the saxons. Have him face the dreaded shield wall along with his closest friends and family. Have him persevere against unimaginable odds. C'monnnnnnn, again????
Please Bernard, stop writing the same book over and over again and give us something to look forward to.
As mentioned in the title of this review, the book is a thundering good yarn, regardless of whether you have read the previous ones in the series (although it is preferable to do so). It was, at least for me, hugely entertaining. It is one of these books that you can't drop until you have reached the last page and I admit to spending most of Saturday reading it from cover to cover non-stop. Hence you get comments from some other reviewers about the book being shorter than others, perhaps, and shorter than they would have wished, quite certainly. This, in itself, makes the book well worth reading. It is a first class swashbuckler adventure story, fast-paced and with lots of "blood and thunder". In this respect, Bernard Cornwell is true to form.
Then there is the historical context, and the painting of what was shortly to become "England". Here also, the author has been true to form, meaning excellent. One of the strongpoints of this book is to show that while King Alfred is commonly credited for having "saved" England from the Danes, more accurately, he saved Wessex, and there was still a chance that the largest part of the island would one day be called "Daneland", rather than England.
Among other features, the author shows to what extent the Scandinavians (they were not all Danes, even if these were a majority) had taken control of Northumbria, East Anglia and the northern part of Mercia, where they had settled in what seems to be large numbers. The book contains several glimpses of these Danish settlers and the author contends through his characters (and directly in his historical note) that the survival of "Anglo-Saxon England" was not at all a given after the death of King Alfred.
Having mentioned this, the author does seem to have taken a few liberties with the history records. For instance, Chester (Ceaster), the old Roman legionary fortress of Deva, seems to have been reconquered by the Saxons a few years before the battle of Tettenhall, and, as Cornwell mentions, the Danish warlords that he includes in his story are mostly fictional. This, however, does not detract from the story in any way and, because of the paucity of the sources, the novelist has quite a lot of room to weave his story in between the few known facts that they mention.
The characterisation is perhaps where some readers might have had the sense of "déjà vu" that I was mentioning earlier. Uthred, in particular, often seems to be his usual swashbuckling but cunning self, and most of the other characters also seem to be true to form. Even there, however, there are a couple of interesting and somewhat original features.
One is the indulgent and somewhat amused attitude that those who really know Uthred start to have when he is at his most threatening and blustering. They are, however, careful not to show it until the warlord's gambles have either paid off or failed. This also points to a key feature of the society in Northern Europe at the time, or at least of the war-like nobility in the British Isles. A warrior's reputation was everything, and he needed to keep it up by appearing fearless, however terrified he might actually be when in the shield wall. This is something that Bernard Cornwell yet again shows rather vividly when describing how horrible and traumatising such an experience might have been.
Another feature, related to the first, is the rather dare-do, mischievous and sympathetic character of the very young Athelstan (the future king) who was indeed brought up at the court of Mercia alongside his aunt (the sister of Edward the Elder, and daughter of King Alfred). He could accordingly very well be part of this book and share at least some of Uthred's adventures alongside "the Lady of Mercia."
Given all this, I simply cannot find any reason for rating the book less than five stars. For me at least, it was a superb read. I just hope it will work at least as well for you...
Most recent customer reviews
Another fine installment of the Saxon Tales series!Read more