2 – The Pale Horseman

The Pale Horseman – Bernard Cornwell

Cover of "The Pale Horseman"Cover of "The Pale Horseman"New cover of "The Pale Horseman"

Synopsis: “The Pale Horseman” is a beautiful tale of divided loyalties, reluctant love, and desperate heroism. The book begins on the day following the events of The Last Kingdom, first volume of the series. Those are terrible times for the Saxons. Defeated by Vikings, Alfred and his surviving followers seek refuge in Æthelingæg, the region to which Alfred’s kingdom was reduced. There, hidden by fog, they travel on small boats among the islands in hoped of regrouping, and finding more support.

By bringing together the Great Heathen Army, the Vikings have one single ambition: to conquer Wessex. When they attack in ruthless darkness, Uhtred finds himself surprisingly on Alfred’s side. Unlikely allies: a devout Christian king and a pagan that lives by the sword. Alfred is a scholar; Uhtred is a warrior full of arrogance. However, the uncomfortable alliance is forged and will lead them from the swamps to the steep hill, where the last Saxon army will fight for the existence of England.

Narrated in 1st person, The Pale Horseman has an even more intense narrative than the previous book. After winning the battle in Cynuit and killing Ubba Lothbrokson, our protagonist returns home and tries to take over his life. Little does he know that fate is being spun and war awaits him again…

Alfred’s kingdom was reduced to Aethelingaeg, a marshland located southwest of Cippanhamm. There they need to regroup, as the Vikings are amassing a great army to conquer the last kingdom in England, Wessex.

I knew it was stupid, I knew I would probably die if I went again, but we were warriors and warriors do not admit defeat. It is reputation. It is pride. It is the madness of battle.


Bernard Cornwell positively surprises me book after book. Sometimes I catch myself laughing and wondering: “How does he do it? I thought nothing was going to happen after that and he pulls this prank on me?”.

But there is something I cannot forget to say: the description of the shield walls are sensational. Do you want to see how I’m not lying?


Then came the fear. The shield wall is a terrible place. This is where the fighter gains reputation, and reputation is important to us. Reputation is honor, but to get that honor the man should stay in the shield wall, where death is rife. I had been in the shield wall at Cynuit and knew the smell, the stench of death, the uncertainty of survival, the horror of axes, swords, and spears, and I feared it. And it was coming.


It is impossible not to like a book with a description as rich as this. Bernard Cornwell puts us on the battlefield and makes us feel on our skin the bitter taste of blood, as you will see at the end of the book, where the Battle of Ethandun is portrayed.

By Vagner Stefanello. Review from the blog desbravandolivros.blogspot.com.br.