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98 of 100 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 October 2013
This is instalment seven of the Warrior Chronicles set in the time of King Alfred and his successors, with Uthred, the pagan warlord brought up by the Danes, still fighting on the side of the Saxons, although getting a bit long on the tooth. Unsurprisingly, a number of reviewers who (just like myself) have read through the whole series over the years may have a sense a "déjà vu", to the extent that some mayt be getting a bit tired with having similar scenes played over and over again. These include the hero getting himself into trouble by murdering and terrorising overbearing churchmen, throwing his weight around, rushing around the country waving his sword and saving the Saxons almost on his own. If the book was limited to this, then indeed I would share their feelings. But there is, at least for me, far more to it than that...

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. 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 probably a majority) had taken control of Northumbria, East Anglia and the northern part of Mercia, where they had settled in whet 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 may have this sense of "déjà vu" that I was mentioning earlier. Uthred, in particular, seems to be his usual swashbuckling but cunning self, and most of the other characters also seem to be true to form. None of this should come as a surprise, to the extent that the characters are still the same as ever, even if a little bit older, and not necessarily any wiser or milder than in previous episodes. Even there, however, there are a couple of interesting and somewhat original features.

One is the indulgent and somewhat amused attitude that Uthred's companions start to have when he is at his most threatening and blustering, although they are careful not to show their amusement until the warlord's gambles have either paid off or failed. This points to a key feature of the society at the time or at least of the war-like nobility in the British Isles, and in Northern Europe more generally. A warrior's reputation was everything, however terrified he might actually be, for instance when in the shield wall. Indeed, Bernard Cornwell yet again shows rather vividly 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. He shares at least some of Uthredd's adventures alongside "the Lady of Mercia."

I could go on, and on, but there is no need. 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...
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on 13 November 2013
Let me first admit to being a huge Bernard Cornwell fan, having read every book he's ever written

Just like his other books, this one gets you hooked in from the start and is hard to put down and is definitely up to the very high standard of the series.

I have become enormously fond of the main character Uhtred, even though he's a bit of a savage. He is my favourite BC character by a mile and Cornwell has developed this character very skilfully through the series from boyhood to the point now where he is fortyish and would have been considered old. Although he was born to a Christian family, he was abducted and raised by Vikings at a very early age and one of the things that makes him such a fascinating character is that he has a foot in both camps, fighting for a Christian King (first Alfred and now Edward) but also still adhering to the old Norse gods and with a healthy disregard for the Christian "nailed God" and particularly for priests. I won't spoil the plot but suffice to say that his hatred of priests comes a bit close to home in this latest episode. Now we see him to some extent struggling to keep up as he once did, with aching joints, etc - Cornwell does not make the mistake of giving his character eternal youth. However he is still a formidable warrior but also politically savvy and becoming wiser and more rounded with age. There are some very good twists and turns in this plot which will keep you guessing.
If you've read the earlier books in the series, buy this now - you will not be disappointed
If you haven't, buy the whole series and read them in order - I guarantee you will rapidly get addicted and devour them all very quickly
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on 23 October 2013
On a recent visit to hospital I was advised that as well as having cancer I have a heart condition, such is life, and then I settle down to read the latest Bernard Cornwell offering, 'The Pagan Lord' featuring Uhtred of Babbenburg and Cornwell nearly kills me off along with the hundreds of Danish horde that his creation Uhtred dispatches throughout this latest in 'The WARRIOR Chronicles' as my heart is pounding almost from the opening paragraph to the very end. Dear Lord Sir, but you can write!

Uhtred is in trouble from the beginning, again when he sets of with son number two and a small band of warriors to retrieve son number one who has become mixed up with the Christians, them Christians will be the death of poor Uhtred one of these days.... Only to find that son Uhtred has converted to the faith and has become a priest.

In trying to retrieve his son from this folly Uhtred inadvertantly, for a change, kills of a Bishop and disowns his son renaming him Judas and promoting son No 2 up the ranks to be henceforth called Uhtred........

On returning to his hall he finds it burning and Sigunn his woman gone. Cnut Ranulfson has visited to exact his revenge, and while he and Uhtred are sworn enemies, on this occasion Uhtred has no idea what he has done, this time.....

Cornwell goes on to describe Uhtred's criss crossing the country and the seas to Frisia. It starts off on horseback crossing these green, pleasant and wonderful lands, at a trot and then into a full canter before galloping across blood filled fields and streams and rivers with Uhtred and his small force of loyal men attempting to reclaim his home of Babbenburg.

Once again and to save the Christians he so loathes but time and again saves from destruction giving them England from the massed armies that Cnut Ranulfson has been building, to finally take over Wessex and Mercia to once and for all create a Daneland and to consign the English to what they deserve, Slavery and Death.

No spoilers from me here suffice to say that Cornwell really is a master story teller spanning the 20th and 21st Centuries and his characters and stories pull you in from page one and get you turning page after page into the wee small hours gasping for air as another wave pounds over the longship as she fights the storms or gasping for breath through the blood and snot and sweat as you take up position in a shield wall with the blood lust screaming from every pore as you wait to kill or be killed .... you become part of the story, you are involved and you have a vested interest in it's eventual outcome. Cornwell has clearly mastered the art of making the reader feel all these things, making you cry out in despair when you get to the end and find that there is still more to come and you are left hungary waiting in anticipation for the next stanza in this epic tale of the birth of England and it's rescue from the Danish hordes.

Editing for Kindle: 5 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Chapters: 13 (in 4 parts)
Page length: 321 but again not evident on Ipad or Kindle devices, sort it out folks for goodness sake
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I love spending time on the ancient roads with Bernard Cornwell's characters and one of the more recent, Uhtred of Bebbanburg has been one that I've loved to hang around, especially during the chaotic time surround Alfred the Great. What his stories do is bring a chaotic time to the reader and allow them to immerse themselves in the bloody fields of war whilst also giving them a cracking story throughout.

Whilst this book has felt an age off coming, one of the things that has kept striking me throughout the whole series is when are we going to get to the characters own personal goals rather than his manipulation by those surrounding them. Its taken a long time to come round and to be honest I'm not sure how many more books the character has in him.

All round I have thoroughly enjoyed the story but the key thing with any of these books is that we know that the key character is never in any real danger (as he tells his tale from the future as an old man.) That detracts from the danger for me, and as such I do feel a little cheated as you known that no matter what the odds are he'll walk away alive. That really does irk me. That said, it is a cracking addition to the series and one that many readers will not wait to get their hands on, especially as the dark nights close in, with the home fires banked. What more could you wish for?
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on 16 October 2013
I have read all the previous books in this series and have come to love the character Uhtred. He steers an amazing path through the brutal politics and warfare of the period. I know the books are works of fiction but I feel I have learned far more about the period than ever I did at school. I particularly enjoyed this book because part of it was based in an area I know pretty well; Chester and the surrounding counties. I'm not sure how much longer Mr Cornwell can keep Uhtred senior going but the ending of this book obviously left an opportunity to continue the saga, perhaps with a new hero, Uhtredsson? Unlike some series of books, the ending of this novel left one wanting more but without that feeling that you'd been slightly short-changed. This was also my first attempt at reading a full-length novel in the Kindle format and I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I took to the format. The slight drawback was when I wanted to check the modern place names from the list at the front of the book. I found this a slightly unwieldy process but maybe I'll adapt in time. To anyone following the Warrior Chronicles I thoroughly recommend this book; to anyone meeting Uhtred of Bebbanburg for the first time, start at the beginning of the series and get to know our hero and his travelling companions.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2013
The perfect companion for all historical fiction enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Once again Bernard Cornwell turns out a splendid page turner, he really is a consummate writer /story teller. In this sequel The Pagan Lord we find Uhtred on the wrong side of the new King and up against the heaviest opposition so far. The narrative is fast paced so much so that I found I was up until 2 in the morning as I had to find out what happened next. A thoroughly excellent read. For those who would like further information on this epoch, I highly recommend the OSPREY Campaign, Warrior, and men at arms booklets, with great overviews, excellent illustrations, and highly detailed maps.
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on 3 November 2013
I have read a number of the reviews penned for this latest edition to the Warrior Chronicles both for and partly against but the overriding factor seems to be similar to me most people just could not put the book down.

I just feel that some of the criticism has arisen due to the sheer absolute quality of the earlier books. One other issue must be that this is the predominant series for this era currently in print.Unlike for example Napoleonic novels the genre is uncrowded and hence people are more critical of any straying from the historical orthodox.

It does have a number of the same themes and strains of earlier books but the book moves on in history and introduces you to and re-introduces characters you affiliate with it is not just Uhtred that makes the book and series as a whole it is the variety of characters and their versatility which engages the reader.

Like most people I was just disappointed I finished it but whether criticism arises due to similar themes playing out or not, any book you cannot put down; read to the exclusion of all else and leaves you impatient for the next in the series cannot be too bad by half.
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on 3 July 2014
King Alfred is dead, and England is at peace. It's an uneasy peace - the Danes occupy the North and East, the Saxons retain Wessex and Mercia. Alfred's warlord Uhtred is increasingly out of place as a pagan in a Christian country - he disinherits his firstborn when he becomes a Christian priest.

Uhtred himself was disinherited when his father was killed in battle and his uncle took the family stronghold Bebbanburg (modern Bamburgh) for himself. He attempts to trick his way into Bebbanburg and comes close to succeeding

But of course the Danes are just waiting for their chance. They invade Mercia, Uhtred captures Chester, destroys its defences and heads south to the relief of Wessex, and single-handedly saves the day (he doesn't have a great opinion of his allies).

Like all the books in the series, it's a little disconcerting to see the Saxon placenames. The Saxons have built around the Roman settlements - at that time mostly dilapidated rather than ruined.

And like all the books in the series, it's a bit of a ripping yarn, yet very well written. I hope there will be another soon...
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on 22 October 2013
Due to my surprise at the disappointment of the previous book (Book 6) for which I only gave a 1 star rating as a protest, I then felt pretty bad and after reading the book again I would have rated it 4 stars. Pagan Lord provides an enjoyable plot and although not as good as "Burning Land" - my favourite of the series, it rates very highly in my collection. And although the story is, in my view, winding down. I still think it is a great read and I am so much looking forward to the next part. I thought 300 pages is relatively short and perhaps the author could have enriched the plot with a 100 or so extra pages but who am I to comment on the Great Master's works. I do worry that our heroe is ageing and maybe the new younger characters will feature more in future Saxon Stories. However I do feel we are drawing towards the conclusion of the saga for which I have been so privilaged to have read. All Great series should not go on for too long as the quality diminishes with every addition - (as with Scarrow's Macro and Cato). No doubt historical events will determine as to how many more parts are to be written and published.
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on 21 October 2013
This is a demonstration by a Master of Historical Storytelling at his VERY best, as descriptively real in human terms and historical terms as I suspect it's possible to get, Bernard Cornwell's understanding of the complexities of personalities and realities that make up human history is truly amazing, he writes with a perception that is unequalled. He makes very clear the horrors of war, as well as the compelling attraction of wanting to be a warrior and the joy that also comes in the midst of battle, he is also at the same time very clear on what drives men and women's lives and the relationships between men and women within the society of the time in which they exist. He writes about the love of the family, and has a superb sense of humour, you will find many incidents in this book that will make you laugh and this story has an abundance of surprises. If you've followed this series of books set in Britain during the time of King Alfred make sure you read this one. And if you haven't, then I recommend that you start with the first book in this series and then go through al the following books and read this one last !!
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