Book review: The Pagan Lord, by Bernard Cornwell

The Pagan Lord

(The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories #7)

The Pagan Lord

The Pagan Lord
Bernard Cornwell

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pub. Date: 1/7/2014
ISBN: 978-0007331901

Historical fiction
Received from the publisher
through Edelweiss

Buy Link

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this ebook for free from the publisher
in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post,
and the thoughts are my own.

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

         hf-reading-challenge-2013 2013 Ebook Challenge


Rating systemI read this book many months ago, and enjoyed it a lot, so not sure why it took me forever to write this review.

As you can see under Cornwell on my Authors’ list, I’ve been faithfully reading all the books of this series.
In this one, Uhtred is getting advanced in age, for the standard of the times at least, and he reminisces his battles and victories, especially one day in battle. He was with his son Osbert, 19.
On the background of the clashes of religion and culture in England, there are a lot of conflicts. Christianity is spreading, and lots of different groups and factions are fighting to get hold of the land.
This is not always an easy read, unless you take note as you go along, to keep track of who is plotting against whom, with what goal in mind, as this is all about strategy.

The beginning of the 10th century is a key period in the land, as anything can still happen: will it end up England or rather Daneland?
The battle of Tettenhall in 910, recalled here, was decisive for the country as you know it today.

In this book, there are great passages on relations and differences between the Christian God and the pagan gods. Rough and ironic as well.
And as usual, several fabulous battle accounts, but as you know by now, Cornwell is THE master for these. There are superb passages at sea, including a battle.
The last scene is awesome.

As usual, Uhtred has two goals in mind: take back his ancestors’  fortress of Beddanburg and prevent the Danes from spreading, while remaining loyal to his own roots. Will he succeed in this book? in the next?

A decisive historical fiction penned by a master, to better understand the England of today.


Bernard Cornwell-who “is at his enthralling best conveying . . . one of the defining periods of English history” (Wall Street Journal)-returns to his epic Saxon Tales saga with this dramatic story of divided loyalties, bloody battles, and the struggle to unite Britain

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.

With The Pagan Lord, New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell-“the reigning king of historical fiction” (USA Today)-continues his magnificent epic of the making of England during the Middle Ages, vividly bringing to life the uneasy alliances, bloody battles, and deadly intrigue that gave birth to the British nation. [from Goodreads]



cornwell Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother was English, a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his mother’s maiden name, Cornwell.
Cornwell was sent away to Monkton Combe School, attended the University of London, and after graduating, worked as a teacher. He attempted to enlist in the British armed services at least three times, but was rejected on the grounds of myopia.
He then joined BBC’s Nationwide and was promoted to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland. He then joined Thames Television as editor of Thames News. He relocated to the United States in 1980 after marrying an American. Unable to get a Green Card, he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit.
As a child, Cornwell loved the novels of C.S. Forester, chronicling the adventures of fictional British naval officer Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic Wars, and was surprised to find that there were no such novels following Lord Wellington’s campaign on land. Motivated by the need to support himself in the U.S. through writing, Cornwell decided to write such a series. He named his chief protagonist Richard Sharpe, a rifleman involved in most major battles of the Peninsular War.

Cornwell wanted to start the series with the Siege of Badajoz but decided instead to start with a couple of “warm-up” novels. These were Sharpe’s Eagle and Sharpe’s Gold, both published in 1981. Sharpe’s Eagle was picked up by a publisher, and Cornwell got a three-book deal. He went on to tell the story of Badajoz in his third Sharpe novel Sharpe’s Company published in 1982.
Cornwell and wife Judy co-wrote a series of novels, published under the pseudonym “Susannah Kells”. These were A Crowning Mercy, published in 1983, Fallen Angels in 1984, and Coat of Arms (aka The Aristocrats) in 1986. (Cornwell’s strict Protestant upbringing informed the background of A Crowning Mercy, which took place during the English Civil War.) He also published Redcoat, an American Revolutionary War novel set in Philadelphia during its 1777 occupation by the British, in 1987.
After publishing 8 books in his ongoing Sharpe series, Cornwell was approached by a production company interested in adapting them for television. The producers asked him to write a prequel to give them a starting point to the series. They also requested that the story feature a large role for Spanish characters to secure co-funding from Spain. The result was Sharpe’s Rifles, published in 1987 and a series of Sharpe television films staring Sean Bean.
A series of contemporary thrillers with sailing as a background and common themes followed: Wildtrack published in 1988, Sea Lord (aka Killer’s Wake) in 1989, Crackdown in 1990, Stormchild in 1991, and a political thriller called Scoundrel in 1992.
In June 2006, Cornwell was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours List.
Cornwell’s latest work is titled Azincourt and was released in the UK in October 2008. The protagonist is an archer who participates in the Battle of Agincourt, another devastating defeat suffered by the French in the Hundred Years War. However Cornwell has stated that it will not be about Thomas of Hookton from The Grail Quest or any of his relatives. [Goodreads]

To know more about Bernard Cornwell and his work, there’s an excellent article on wikipedia, and great interviews and book trailers on his own website.




11 thoughts on “Book review: The Pagan Lord, by Bernard Cornwell

  1. Pingback: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2013 | Words And Peace

  2. Pingback: 2013 Ebook Reading Challenge | Words And Peace

  3. Cornwell is one of my favorites. He lets me walk in the Dark Ages like few others can. However, this series feels forced at this stage, as if his publishing house is forcing him to milk a dry cow. I loved

    The same thing happens in each book at this stage: Uhtred hates the Saxon-Christians, but has dug a hole for himself where he has to stay among them, they piss each other off until things get ugly. but then the Danes attack, so they need his help, which he gives. He manages to out-maneuver the Danes, they fight and he beats them. I think that the past 3 books could have been boiled down to a single novel. I have lost sympathy for him. He hated the Christians from the beginning. He could have joined with Ragnar the Younger 25 years before, but his ego drove him to help Alfred, and now he’s stuck. I can’t tell you the number of times in the first 3 books that I cursed him for his stupidity (for not leaving Alfred).


  4. I love his Grail series, more than the Saxon series, although that one is excellent too. Azincourt is good too. Another story about archers. Bernard Cornwell writes absolutely riveting battle scenes.


  5. I’ve never read any of his books – I think the Sharpe series on TV put me off rather than encourage me. He has a huge fan following though so maybe I should put aside my prejudice


  6. Pingback: Book review and giveaway: Edwin: High King of Britain | Words And Peace

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