/ Key title Continuing the outstanding success of The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman is the second installment of Bernard Cornwell's fantastic series, following the fate of Alfred the Great ,and the forging of Britain. / The Pale Horseman was a top 5 bestseller in hardback / With his staggering Grail Quest, Warlord and Sharpe series Bernard Cornwell has cemented his position as a virtuoso of historical fiction / This new novel, of heroic deeds, bloody battles and the struggle to unite Britain in the face of a common enemy, will delight all his fans and recruit many new readers to his fantastic writing / With large-scale promotion and advertising this is set to be a major summer bestseller / Competition: Conn Iggulden, Patrick o'Brian
Bernard Cornwell worked for BBC Television for seven years, mostly as a producer on the Nationwide programme, before taking charge of the Current Affairs department in Northern Ireland. In 1978 he became editor of Thames Television's Thames at Six. Married to an American, he now lives in the United States.
Bestseller Cornwell leaps back a millennium from his Richard Sharpe series to tell of the consolidation of England in the late ninth century and the role played by a young (fictional) warrior-in-training who's at the center of the war between Christian Englishmen and the pagan Danes. (Most of the other principal characters-Ubba, Guthrum, Ivar the Boneless and the like-are real historical figures.) Young Uhtred, who's English, falls under the control of Viking uber-warrior Ragnar the Fearless when the Dane wipes out Uhtred's Northumberland family. Cornwell liberally feeds readers history and nuggets of battle data and customs, with Uhtred's first-person wonderment spinning all into a colorful journey of (self-)discovery. In a series of episodes, Ragnar conquers three of England's four kingdoms. The juiciest segment has King Edmund of East Anglia rebuking the Viking pagans and demanding that they convert to Christianity if they intend to remain in England. After Edmund cites the example of St. Sebastian, the Danes oblige him by turning him into a latter-day Sebastian and sending him off to heaven. Uhtred's affection for Ragnar as a surrogate father grows, and he surpasses the conqueror's blood sons in valor. When father and adopted son arrive at the fourth and last kingdom, however, the Danes meet unexpected resistance and Uhtred faces personal and familial challenges, as well as a crisis of national allegiance. This is a solid adventure by a crackling good storyteller. Agent, Toby Eady. (Feb.) Forecast: Cornwell's own life served as inspiration for this novel: he, too, was orphaned (and adopted by members of a strict fundamentalist sect). Readers who followed the story of his reunion with his birth father in 2003 (while he was on tour with Sharpe's Havoc) will take special interest in the personal angle here. Four-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Praise for The Pale Horseman: 'Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation.' Daily Mail 'Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.' Observer 'It is stirring stuff, and few writers are better qualified than Cornwell to do justice to the excitement of the times...Ninth-century Britain and a master of storytelling -- it is a marriage made in heaven.' Sunday Telegraph 'Cornwell's mastery of historical sources and his aptitude for battle scenes is well established...the language, and particularly the dialogue, is raw and unarchaic, rich in insults and Anglo-Saxon expletives.' Times Literary Supplement More praise for 'The Pale Horseman': '!as an unsentimental, psychologically astute portrait of fighting men, it has all his old verve and polish.' The Sunday Telegraph 'This is sweeping, atmospheric, old-fashioned story telling' The Times 'It is a compelling yarn, cleverly suffused with period detail, which evokes the brutality and earthiness of medieval life, and leaves you hungry for more.' Mail on Sunday
The ninth century witnessed the beginning of deadly raids and incursions along England's coastlines and waterways as Danes went a-Viking in search of riches of gold and silver and, most important, land. Opposing the invaders was the king of Wessex, Alfred the Great. Best-selling author Cornwell (Sharpe's Escape) explores this tumultuous period through the eyes of a Saxon nobleman's son. Ten-year-old Uhtred joins his father in battle to save their land of Northumbria from invasion. During the conflict, in which his father is killed, Uhtred is captured by the Danes and spends the next several years as the adopted son of war-leader Ragnar. Even after returning to his own people, Uhtred finds his loyalty torn. He despises the priest-ridden, sickly King Alfred and admires the Viking warriors who raised him. As a third-generation Dane, this reviewer can't help but root for the Danes right along with Uhtred. It doesn't hurt that Cornwell has clearly made them the more sympathetic and interesting characters. Another great historical series in the making, this is highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/04.]-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.