My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In “The Pale Horseman,” we follow the continuing adventures of Uhtred, a snarky Saxon-raised-as-a-Dane-who-is-now-a-reluctant-subject-of-King-Alfred. (Emphasis on the “snarky” part.) Alfred has been caught by surprise by the Danes and has fled to the swamps where he plots his comeback. Uhtred is caught between his desire to regain his lost land, his family loyalty to the Danes, and his oath of loyalty to Alfred.
I do love Bernard Cornwell’s description of battle scenes–they are gritty, gory, and vivid. I also delight in his depiction of Alfred, whom Uhtred clearly dislikes and distrusts. (My favorite description of Alfred in this book is when Uhtred says, “Once we returned to the swamp, Alfred did what he does best–write letters.”)
I agree with some of the reviewers that female characters are not the author’s strong point (a common failing in male authors). But since the book is written in first person by Uhtred, the weakness does not significantly affect the book or the story. Uhtred’s flaws make him all the more appealing as a character, and the events covered in the book are well-paced and well-written.
I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series!