In the late ninth century, Wessex is the last English kingdom. The rest have fallen to the Danish Vikings, a story told in The Last Kingdom, the New York Times best-selling novel in which Uhtred's tale began. Now the Vikings want to finish England. They assemble the Great Army, whose one ambition is to conquer Wessex. A dispossessed young nobleman, married to a woman who hails from Wessex, Uhtred has little love for either, though for King Alfred he has none at all. Yet fate, as Uhtred learns, has its own imperatives, and when the Vikings attack out of a wintry darkness to shatter the last English kingdom, Uhtred finds himself at Alfred's side.
Bernard Cornwell's The Pale Horseman, like The Last Kingdom, is rooted in the real history of Anglo-Saxon England. It tells the astonishing and true story of how Alfred, forced to become a fugitive in a few square miles of swampland, fights his enemies against overwhelming odds. The king is a pious Christian, while Uhtred is a pagan. Alfred is a sickly scholar, while Uhtred is an arrogant warrior. Yet the two forge an uneasy alliance that will lead them out of the marshes to the stark hilltop where the last remaining Saxon army will fight for the very existence of England.
©2006 Bernard Cornwell; (P)2006 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
"Filled with bawdy humor, bloodlust, treachery, and valor, this stirring tale will leave readers eager for the next volume in this Alfred the Great series." (Publishers Weekly)
As a 62-year-old woman, I suspect I am not the ideal audience for these books. However, I really enjoy them, with some caveats. They are solidly researched, with fascinating insights into a historical period that gets little popular attention -- 9th century Britain, when Britain was just starting to coalesce into the nations we know today. The cultural crosscurrents and conflicting loyalties that result are played out in the person of the hero, a guy who is a little bit Conan the Barbarian and a little bit wily Odysseus, drawn with red-blooded vigor and not a little humor. Some of the characters, and some of the plot turns, are comic book retreads, but many are quite deftly conceived, especially Alfred the Great, and Alfred's relationship to the hero. There is plenty of subtly-delivered information on daily life during this time (which I like very much) and vast oceans of blood and gore (which I don't, but I can accept that many do).
The reader of this volume is not my favorite -- every male character in the book is given a separate and distinct Scandinavian/British accent, which I'm not sure makes sense when no character, technically, is speaking any language modern listeners would recognize.
I am also puzzled why some books in this series are abridged and others are not. Especially since the abridged versions still seem to retain the vast oceans of blood and gore, rather than the details of daily life.
I love BOOKS and reading, listening is as good when I can't look at the book. I listen every minute driving.
I liked this book as well as the first. Same great story, same great character and same writing. Again I am disappointed that this is an abridged book.
I like the narrator, who also narrated the first book.
Now on to book Three, "The Lords of the North", and this one is unabridged.
While the story and performance were excellent, I rate this audio book well below average because of the editing. There is an unabridged version, and I would recommend getting it or reading the book, but not buying this audio version. (For some reason auible doesn't sell it, likely not because they don't want to).
The editing left in all the bits of the book for people who didn't read the first book. While both of those people were likely happy, the rest of us end up with so little new content it's not worth the price.
For future editors, series like these are now mostly enjoyed as a full series. Update your methods, please.
For possible buyer, please vote with your wallet, and refuse to pay for this version.
I was educated into oblivion but have overcome and am having a wonderful life
I got to know Alfred, Uhtred, Ragnar, and so many others. Good character development and I think about these characters and about the story as I go about my day
Uhtred. His deep sense of honor and the sanctity of his oath gives him a character easy to like. And this is the character attribute best explored by the author -- Uhtred is sometimes tempted to betray his oath but is always philosophical. I appreciate the author's musings (through Uhtred) upon character with unfettered freedom versus a character under authority (whether under the authority of God, or gods, or of an oath given to another person or king).
It is easy to discern between the characters and they all sound manly. The women sound as women yet without any nasality or high pitched vocals on the part of the narrator.I think this narrator portrays each character's attributes in the voices he gives them.
Cornwell has a great story with superb characters. the lead Utred, is a composite of one or more historical figures but is believable and engaging.
I just achieved App Master!! I never thought I would make it this far!! Thanks Audible
Uhtred has made a name for himself and now he finds he has to pick a side..To fight with the warriors the Vikings? or should he fight with his people the SAXON and King Alfred?
Deep down he knows Alfred hates him but he is a Saxon, blood in and blood out he is a Saxon..Must read..
" I have my mind... & a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." -T.L.
I would have loved to read the Saxon chronicles all unabridged & with a narrator like John Lee or someone better.... the abridged books are worth listening to but Book 3 and 5 (which is narrated by Lee) are much better & book 6 was not as good because the narrator was poor & monotone without ever listening to how people & places were suppose to be pronounced
The books are entertaining but I'm not totally sure what I missed, but getting the general idea I hope the last 2 books Cornwell is/has written, "Pagan Lord" I hope will be unabridged & read by Lee.
This book is quick & can be listened to in 1 day & I enjoyed the main character that need to be dealt with & we continue with Ultred's quest to get to his families birth right, u know something ends good because the story teller is Ultred & he seems happy & although I wasn't incredible happy with the 6th book the end was great.... I am looking forward to seeing who they use to narrate the last couple books & the abridged are not bad to fill the empty spaces, but I believe they take a great series & not get the best out of it by using different narrators & abridged vs. unabridged... I originally believed this series is the best but in the end I lean towards 1356 as the gold standard to Cornwell's fantastically written novels
I didn't realize I had gotten an abridged version until I was looking up a reference in the printed version - but I didn't miss any of the material that was not there. I think the abridgement really worked well and tightened up the story nicely. I really love this series and I'm looking forward to the rest. I feel like I've had a trip to the 9th century to meet the characters and watch the battles. I have loved almost all the books I've listened too and it is really hard to rate them but this book would definitely be near the top.
The description of life in the swamp and the critical battle where the Saxons are outnumbered by the Danes was extremely intense.
He has a great voice and his enthusiasm for the material brings the story home.
I could hardly but it down. It felt like it was over too soon.
Great series! This is my second time listening through the series and it's just as good this go around. Love the battles, colorful characters, and Uhtred's attitude through everything.
Cornwell has captured the essence of what it meant to be a proud Saxon under Alfred the Great! A thrilling tale of courage and honor. I love all the Saxon Chronicles.
A thrilling tale of courage and honor.
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