These days I look at twenty-year-olds and think they are pathetically young, scarcely weaned from their mother’s tits, but when I was twenty I considered myself a full-grown man. I had fathered a child, fought in the shield wall, and was loath to take advice from anyone. In short I was arrogant, stupid, and headstrong. Which is why, after our victory at Cynuit, I did the wrong thing.
– Bernard Cornwell, The Pale Horseman
In my view, this opening works wonderfully. There’s a hint of conflict (something bad happened, he did the wrong thing) and the narration, from the viewpoint of the main character, Uhtred of Bebbanburg (one of my favorite antiheroes), sets the perfect tone for the novel. And it reminds me why Bernard Cornwell is one of my favorite authors. Let me know what you think about the opening passage of The Pale Horseman.