Ok, I’ll own up to it. I’ve been a lot into English historical fiction in recent years. Favorite authors include Bernard Cornwell - 10th century (The Saxon Chronicles), Sharon Kay Penman - (12th century The Plantagenet series), and Hilary Mantel - (16th century (The Thomas Cromwell Trilogy). This month it was The Pagan Lord by Cornwell….
Alfred the Great is dead and Edward his son reigns as king. The Kingdom of Wessex survives but peace is tenuous at best. The Danes in the north, led by Viking Cnut Longsword, stand ready to invade and will never rest until all of England 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 are transitory for some and 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.
Uhtred, the hero and narrator of the Saxon series, is a fascinating mixture of divided loyalties and internal contradictions. Born a Saxon, he was raised by Danes and has the temperament of a genuine Viking. He disdains the “nailed god” of the Christians and favors older gods, such as Thor, whose symbol (a hammer) Uhtred carries with him everywhere. He served Alfred loyally and effectively but never really liked or sympathized with him. Uhtred’s one overriding ambition is to recover the Northumbrian fortress of Bebbanburg, which was stolen from him years before. They called this era The Dark Ages for a reason. Nobody writes the twists and turns, the chaos and battle scenes as well as Cornwell. When Untred winds down the Saxon Chronicles we can even see a small light at the end of the tunnel. The birth of England….