28+ quotes from The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

Quotes from The Pale Horseman

Bernard Cornwell ·  384 pages

Rating: (29.9K votes)


“Life is simple," I said. "Ale, women, sword, and reputation. Nothing else matters.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“There is such joy in chaos. Stow all the world's evils behind a door and tell men that they must never, ever, open the door, and it will be opened because there is pure joy in destruction.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd,” I said. Fate is fate. It cannot be changed or cheated.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“Words are like breath," she said, "you say them and they're gone. But writing traps them.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“This isn't just a war over land, it's a war about God. And Alfred...is Christ's servant...”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“You do like them thin, don't you?" Pyrlig said, amused. "Now I like them meaty as well-fed heifers! Give me a nice dark Briton with hips like a pair of ale barrels and I'm a happy priest. Poor Hild. Thin as a ray of sunlight, she is, but I pity a Dane who crosses her path today.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“But deep under the earth, where the corpse serpent gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree of life, there are three spinners. Three women who make our fate. We might believe we make choices, but in truth our lives are in the spinners' fingers. They make our lives, and destiny is everything. The Danes know that, and even the Christians know it, Wyrd biõ ful araed, we Saxons say, fate is inexorable.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“I swear to be your man," I said, looking into his pale eyes, "until your family is safe."
He hesitated. I had given him the oath, but I had qualified it.
I had let him know that I would not remain his man for ever, but he accepted my terms. He should have kissed me on both cheeks, but that would have disturbed Æthelflaed and so he raised my right hand and kissed the knuckles, then kissed the crucifix.
"Thank you," he said.
The truth, of course, was that Alfred was finished, but, with the perversity and arrogance of foolish youth, I had just given him my oath and promised to fight for him.
And all, I think, because a six-year-old stared at me. And she had hair of gold.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“I like to see a man obeying a woman," Father Pyrlig said as I fetched the loaf.
"Why's that?" I asked.
"Because it means I'm not alone in this sorry world.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“He was a startlingly handsome young man, and that, too, distracted him for girls were attracted to him like priests to gold.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“And that, too, was the truth, that a man cannot step back from a fight and stay a man. We make much in this life if we are able. We make children and wealth and amass land and build halls and assemble armies and give great feasts, but only one thing survives us. Reputation. I could not walk away.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“I have a path to follow," I said, "and it goes north. North back to Bebbanburg.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“There is such joy in chaos. Stow all the world’s evils behind a door and tell men that they must never, ever, open the door, and it will be opened because there is pure joy in destruction.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“There is a greater war, Uhtred. Not the fight between Saxon and Dane, but between God and the devil, between good and evil! We are part of it!”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“And I looked,' Pyrlig said to me, 'and I saw a pale horse, and the rider's name was death.' I just stared in amazement. 'It's in the gospel book,' he explained sheepishly, 'and it just cam to mind.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“There comes a moment in life when we see ourselves as others see us. I suppose that is part of growing up, and it is not always comfortable. Eanflæd,”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“A trial relied heavily on oaths, but both sides would bring as many liars as they could muster, and judgment usually went to the better liars or, if both sides were equally convincing, to the side who had the sympathy of the onlookers.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“The Britons have never learned to love the Saxons. Indeed they hate us, and in those years when the last English kingdom was on the edge of destruction, they could have tipped the balance by joining Guthrum. Instead they held back their sword arms, and for that the Saxons can thank the church. Men like Asser had decided that the Danish heretics were a worse enemy than English Christians, and if I were a Briton I would resent that, because the Britons might have taken back much of their lost lands if they had allied themselves with the pagan Northmen. Religion makes strange bedfellows.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“There is such joy in a good ship, and a greater joy to have the ship's belly fat with other men's silver. It is the Viking joy, driving a dragon-headed hull through a wind-driven sea towards a future full of feasts and laughter. The Danes taught me that and I love them for it.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“Your mother didn't give birth to you," I told hint, "but farted you out of her shrivelled arsehole."
"Frightened or not," Asser said, "you've taken Peredur's silver, so you must fight them now."
"Say one more word, monk," I said, "and I'll cut off your scrawny balls.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“Win your war, Lord Uhtred," he said, "then take her away from us priests and give her lots of children. She'll be happy, and one day she'll be truly wise. That's the women's real gift, to be wise, and not many men have it.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“Men fear wanderers for they have no rules. The Danes came as strangers, rootless and violent, and that, I thought, was why I was always happier in their company.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“The fear came then. The shield wall is a terrible place. It is where a warrior makes his reputation, and reputation is dear to us. Reputation is honour, but to gain that honour a man must stand in the shield wall where death runs rampant. I had been in the shield wall at Cynuit and I knew the smell of death, the stink of it, the uncertainty of survival, the horror of the axes and swords and spears, and I feared it. And it was coming.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“We had to fight, because to decline battle was a defeat.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“Tomorrow," he shouted, "you do not fight for me! I fight for you! I fight for Wessex! I fight for your wives, for your children and your homes! Tomorrow we fight and, I swear to you on my father's grave and on my children's lives, tomorrow we shall win!”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“And on my conscience," he said, "I will for ever bear the weight of all those men who died in a hopeless cause. Two thousand against five thousand? How can 1 justify leading so few against so many?"
"You know how."
"So I can be king?"
"So that we are not slaves in our own land," I said.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“The world began in chaos and it will end in chaos. The gods brought the world into existence, and they will end it when they fight among themselves, but in between the chaos of the world's birth and the chaos of the world's death is order, and order is made by oaths, and oaths bind us like the buckles of a harness.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


“I knew a man who had a dumb wife. He was ever so happy.”
― Bernard Cornwell, quote from The Pale Horseman


About the author

Bernard Cornwell
Born place: in London, England, The United Kingdom
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