The Pale Horseman
The Last Kingdom Series Book 2
When peace is torn apart by bloody Danish steel, Uhtred must fight to save a king who distrusts him.
Skeptical of a treaty between the Vikings and Wessex, Uhtred takes his talent for mayhem to Cornwall, gaining treasure and a mysterious woman on the way. But when he is accused of massacring Christians, he finds lies can be as deadly as steel.
Still, when pious King Alfred flees to a watery refuge, it is the pagan warrior he relies on. Now Uhtred must fight a battle which will shape history – and confront the Viking with the banner of the white horse…
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Uhtred, Northumbrian born, raised a Viking and now married to a Saxon, is already a formidable figure and warrior. But at twenty he is still arrogant, pagan and headstrong, so not a comfortable ally for the thoughtful, pious Alfred. But these two, with Alfred’s family and a few of Uhtred’s companions, are apparently all that remains of the Wessex leadership after a disastrous truce.
It is the lowest time for the Saxons. Defeated comprehensively by the Vikings who now occupy most of England, Alfred and his surviving followers retreat to the trackless marshlands of Somerset. There, forced to move restlessly to escape betrayal or detection, using the marsh mists for cover, they travel by small boats from one island to another, hoping that they can regroup and find some more strength and support.
They seek refuge in Athelney, a tidal swamp to which Alfred’s kingdom has shrunk. Uhtred finds himself torn between his Danish foster brother and the winning Vikings, and his growing respect for the stubborn leadership of Alfred. He must decide whether to rebuild the Saxons’ strength from his watery base and help them to take on the Vikings once more.
“Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation.” Daily Mail
“Cornwell’s narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.” Observer
“It is stirring stuff, and few writers are better qualified than Cornwell to do justice to the excitement of the times…Ninth-century Britain and a master of storytelling – it is a marriage made in heaven.” Sunday Telegraph
“Cornwell’s mastery of historical sources and his aptitude for battle scenes is well established…the language, and particularly the dialogue, is raw and unarchaic, rich in insults and Anglo-Saxon expletives.” Times Literary Supplement