Book Review: The Pagan Lord (The Last Kingdom, #7) by Bernard Cornwell

Book Review: The Pagan Lord (The Last Kingdom, #7) by Bernard Cornwell

The Pagan Lord by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: The Last Kingdom (Book #7 of 13)

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 321 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 26th September 2013 by HarperCollins


For the first time ever in the series, I actually think The Pagan Lord felt almost completely like a filler book.

I’ve been sitting on this review for almost five days now. It’s a rare occurrence for me to take this many days to sit and really write a review, but yes, I struggled that much trying to write a review for The Pagan Lord, the seventh book in The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell. I’m going to keep this review short.

“Because there could not be peace, not while two tribes shared one land. One tribe must win. Even the nailed god cannot change that truth. And I was a warrior, and in a world at war the warrior must be cruel.”

Cornwell has always followed a structured—and repetitive—storytelling style with this series; that’s applicable for the past six books as well, not just this book. But even then, at least in the past six books, there were still surprises and the story’s progression that moves Uthred’s story and his relationship with the other characters forward. This is the biggest issue with The Pagan Lord. It’s understandable that due to the event of the previous book, it’s difficult to keep the storyline engaging and fresh, especially because the interesting side characters were almost all missing in this installment.

The plotline in the first half of this novel was great; it felt like Cornwell is preparing and moving the story forward here. Also, Uthred—despite being a prick occasionally—continues to be entertaining, and Cornwell’s prose plus the rehashed themes surrounding religion always felt intriguing. However, the second half was a pure struggle for me. The conflict with Cnut was quite likely the most uninteresting plotline of the entire series so far. I mean it, other than the great last chapter, I never felt trademarked tension found in the past six books. I’ll go as far as saying that I don’t think this volume was even necessary to read.

“I’m getting old,” I said again, and that was true. I had lived more than fifty years and most men were lucky to see forty. Yet all old age was bringing was the death of dreams.”

My opinion comes with the first time bias to consider; I watched the TV series adaptation first, and I do believe that season 3 and season 4—so far, because The Pagan Lord covers only the first half of the fourth season—have been superior compared to the novels. Cornwell himself often mentioned that the TV series adaptation did an excellent job adapting his novels, and I agree with him. The Pagan Lord was okay; it’s the weakest of the series so far for me, and there’s nothing special with this one. I personally think that the big changes executed in the TV series did Cornwell’s novels justice. I hope The Empty Throne will be better than this.


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