The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell

I just finished another great book by master storyteller Bernard Cornwell. The Pagan Lord is the seventh book in his Saxon Tales series involving Uhtred, a pagan Viking who is fighting for the Saxons in the tenth century.

Here is an overview from the author’s website:

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 favour 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.

Two themes run throughout the series. One, Uhtred is fighting against his own people by aiding the Saxons in the defense of their homeland. The second is Uhtred’s extreme hostility toward Christianity – although for a brief period he became a Christian.

Uhtred correctly thinks it is a direct threat to the warrior culture of the Danes. His hatred is so heavy that he renames his first-born son’s name from Uhtred to Judas because his son became a Christian priest. The hatred written by the author bothered me at first, but then I blew it off because it is fiction after all.

Although the book gets a bit off-point from the story line, Cornwell anchors it with great descriptions of the major scenes – especially the battles. As I have written before, I have never read another author that can capture the wildly swinging emotions of battle as well as Cornwell.

The Pagan Lord is well worth the read.

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