Bernard Cornwell continues his series of Saxon tales in his latest work, "The Pagan Lord." (Harper, 299 pages)
The novel takes place in the land that would become England, in the days when warriors, clad in mail, fought with mighty swords bearing fierce names.
Uhtred, the pagan warrior who had served the late King Alfred, but is now condemned by the Christians for having killed a priest while trying to prevent his son from taking religious vows, is planning to reclaim his ancestral home in Bebbanburg.
Uhtred, with his constant companion, his mighty broadsword, Serpent-Breath, is drawn into battle with the leader of the Danes who plots for complete domination of the Saxons.
Cnut, and his deadly companion, Ice-Spite, wage war against Uhtred. At stake is the late King Alfred's dream of a Saxon England.
The historical background for this riveting tale is the little known battle of Tettenhall, which proved pivotal in the formation of England. At Tettenhall, the Danes, who had controlled Northern England and threatened to dominate the Midlands, were defeated.
Bernard Cornwell's pagan lord, Uhtred, is a crafty warrior who wages battle as much with his brains as with his brawn, and conducts himself in a remarkably humane fashion, for his time, earning a reputation for sparing women and children during battle.
With his usual fine flair for historical fiction, Bernard Cornwell's latest story of Uhtred is a great weapon against the winter doldrums.