At the onset of the tenth century, England is in turmoil. Alfred the Great is dead and Edward his son 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, that great Northumbrian fortress, Bebbanburg.
Loyalties will be divided and men will fall, as every Saxon kingdom is drawn into the bloodiest battle yet with the Danes; a war which will decide the fate of every king, and the entire English nation.
THE PAGAN LORD, Bernard Cornwell’s seventh installment in the Saxon Tales series, takes place ten years after the last book. The savage but principled hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, is now middle-aged.
King Alfred is dead, and Uhtred, still a man divided, holds no favor with the new king. He is respected by the Danes, feared by the Saxon, and embroiled in the battles between both that will decide the fate of the island we later know as England. This seventh book is the beginning of Uhtred’s quest to reclaim his homeland, but his journey is waylaid when he is tasked to find the Viking jarl’s kidnapped wife and son. Old enemies return, and treachery is afoot.
As with all of Cornwell’s works, the story is filled with vivid details and epic battle scenes. The tenth century is masterfully portrayed as the barbaric, tumultuous, gritty time it was. Cornwell takes some liberties, but remains historically faithful. There is some repetition, and the plot has become somewhat formulaic, but that is to be expected of such a prolific author. The cliffhanger ending leaves the anticipation to build for the next in the series.
Poetic and rousing, THE PAGAN LORD is another gripping read from Cornwell.