‘The Pagan Lord’ is book 7 in Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories which spin a story around the creation of England in the 800s and 900.
The priests have got hold of Uhtred’s oldest son and turned him into a priest. Uhtred is furious and his retaliatory actions result in his land being taken from him and his banishment from Mercia. What can he do but have another go at trying to reclaim his ancestral home of Bebbanburg (stolen by his uncle).
Aethelred (leader of Mercia) is trying to recapture East Anglia from the Danes and also find the bones of Saint Oswald in eastern Northumbria. It is said that those in possession of the saint’s bones will be unbeatable.
So, suddenly both Aethelred and Uhtred are out of Mercia. Coincidence? The Danes, of course, take the opportunity to launch a major offensive against Mercia and Wessex.
Uhtred sees the attack coming, and even though he owes nothing to Mercia or Wessex, he tries to alert King Edward to the danger before it’s too late. And with the war between the Saxons and the Danes once again flaring up, the Saxons are only too happy to have Uhtred back and fighting on their side.
Once again there is a brilliant battle scene when Uhtred’s men are surrounded by the Danes. Uhtred’s second son (now named Uhtred since the older son was disowned) gets a chance to show his worth as a warrior.
I have found all the books in this series enjoyable to read. This one, however, did seem to drag a bit in some places. I’m not sure that I would have read the whole series if I started with this one.
For people who love the series, then this is another important step in the life of Uhtred. He is now over 50 years old (pretty old for those times), so probably can’t continue to fight for many more books. There will definitely be at least one more addition to the series and I’m looking forward to it!
Book published 2013