The Pagan Lord: A Novel by Bernard Cornwell

Release Date - January 2014

Bernard Cornwell

Book Review by Bob Walch

Add another title to Bernard Cornwell’s long running Saxon Tales. The seventh installment of the series, “The Pagan Lord”, is narrated by Uhtred of Bebbanburg. It is early in the 11th century and with Alfred the Great’s death, his son Edward now is in charge of the Saxon south. An uneasy peace exists with the non-Christian Danes who control the north.

Although Uhtred has pledged his allegiance to the new kind, Edward is not one of the Court’s favorites. Far from it. Nominally a Christian, Uhtred was raised by a Dane and he has forsaken all his pagan beliefs and the fifty year old has little time for the Christian deity he scornfully calls ‘the nailed god’.

To complicate matters, Uhtred’s oldest boy has become a priest and refuses to give up his religious vocation. Then to make matters worse, the intemperate warrior kills another priest in a fit of rage and disinherits his son.

This rash action results in banishment from the Church, but that’s just the beginning of Uhtred’s problems. His lands have been ravaged and a band of ruthless miscreants posing as Uhtred have kidnapped the wife and children of a Danish lord. On top of everything else Uhtred is obliged to find the kidnap victims and clear his name.

With a small group of his most loyal followers, the indomitable aged warrior is intent on regaining control of Bebbanburg, his ancestral holdings seized by his uncle. It’s going to be a particularly vicious and bloody campaign between the Saxons and the Danes that will once and for all drive the Danes from the Midlands. And, ultimately, this will mark the beginning of a series of conflicts that will finally solidify the sovereignty of the nation called England.

If you have followed this gripping saga naturally this latest chapter is a must read. But, for those who relish a good historical novel and haven’t yet started this journey with Bernard Cornwell, this might be a good time to do so. The history of the Middle Ages comes alive thanks to the author’s research and skill as a writer; thus, this is a very pleasant way to learn some of the important events and characters associated with the Anglo-Saxon period during the time that led to the creation of a unified England.


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