SDR Book of the Week: The Pagan Lord, by Bernard Cornwell
The Pagan Lord, by Bernard Cornwell. Harper, 303 pp.
I’m going to just come out and say it: I am not Bernard Cornwell’s intended audience.
I’m not fascinated by the Middle Ages, nor about one man’s quest for any crown. While I’ve been wanting to read/watch Game of Thrones because of its popularity, I don’t feel deprived in any way from not partaking (I do know about the Red Wedding, but more because I read a HuffPost article on it the day after it aired).
With all that in mind, I really can’t find anything negative to say about Cornwell’s The Pagan Lord. The writing was solid, the characters were “fleshed out” (pun intended), and the story was well-developed and interesting.
My favorite parts of this book were the characters, hands-down. I loved how Cornwell allowed Uhtred–the protagonist–to be both battle-hardened and gentle. He’s a warrior with his men and against his enemies, but he’s clearly in love with his women. I loved his relationship to Aethelflaed.
Speaking of Aethelflaed: she’s fabulous. She is, by all definitions, Uhtred’s partner. She goes both into battle and into bed with him. She’s completely bad-ass, and she commands control in a time and a culture that didn’t necessarily give women the opportunity for power. She demanded it anyway, and she got it.
Was I completely enraptured by this book: No. But I didn’t expect to be. I honestly didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, because this isn’t the kind of book I usually like. I was intrigued, however, especially after Cornwell’s 1356 did so well on the New York Times charts. And, from what I can tell of The Pagan Lord, rightfully so. As unlikely as it is that I will ever truly love medieval-fiction, I could definitely see myself picking up another of his books and enjoying it.