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Sword Song [Hardcover]

Bernard Cornwell
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Sep 2007

The fourth in the bestselling Alfred series from number one historical novelist, Bernard Cornwell.

The year is 885, and England is at peace, divided between the Danish kingdom to the north and Alfred's kingdom of Wessex in the south. But trouble stirs, a dead man has risen and new Vikings have arrived to occupy London.

It is a dangerous time, and it falls to Uhtred, half Saxon, half Dane, a man feared and respected the length and breadth of Britain, to expel the Viking raiders and take control of London for Alfred. His uncertain loyalties must now decide England's future.

A gripping tale of love, rivalry and violence, Sword Song tells the story of England's making.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (3 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007219717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007219711
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 22 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the Alfred series.

Product Description


‘The characterisation, as ever, is excellent…And one can only admire the little touches that bring the period to life: the bitter weather; the swollen rivers; the soliders gossiping about ale and women…he can also claim to be a true poet of both the horror and the glory of war, showing a feeling for the ways of fighting men which is too often lacking in the politicians who send them into battle.’
Sunday Telegraph

This is typical Cornwell, meticulously researched, massive in scope, brilliant in execution’. News of the World

‘He’s called a master story-teller. Really he’s cleverer than that.’

‘There are many authors who are now writing historical fiction, and some of them are almost as good as Cornwell, but so far there’s none better.’
Yorkshire Evening Post

‘Sword Song’s as sharply written as all of Cornwell’s historical adventures.’ Bournemouth Daily Echo

‘…this will not disappoint Cornwell’s legions of fans.’ Western Daily Press

‘…epic drama, rich language and a thoroughly satisfying journey through Saxon history.’ Eastern Daily Press

From the Inside Flap

The year is 885 and England is at peace, divided between the Danish kingdom to the North and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a Northumbrian lord, warrior by instinct, Viking by nature, appears to have settled down. He has land, a wife, two children and a duty given to him by Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But trouble stirs, a dead man has risen and new Vikings have arrived to occupy London. Their dream is to conquer Wessex, and to do it they need Uhtred's help.

Alfred has other ideas. He wants Uhtred to expel the Viking raiders from London. It is a dangerous time and Uhtred must decide how much his oath binds him to the king. Other storm clouds are gathering. Æthelflæd - Alfred's daughter - is now married, but a cruel twist of fate means that her very existence becomes a threat to Alfred's kingdom. It is Uhtred, half Saxon, half Dane, whose uncertain loyalties must now decide England's whole future.

Sword Song tells the story of the making of England and, like all Bernard Cornwell's previous novels, is based on true events. It is a gripping story of love, deceit, and violence, set in an England of tremendous turmoil and strife, yet one galvanised by a small flicker of hope that Alfred, the great king of Wessex, may prove a force that lasts. Uhtred, his greatest warrior, has become his sword, a man feared and respected the length and breadth of the land, his Lord of War.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History lessons you don't fall asleep during! 5 July 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well I'll get all the negative stuff out of the way first! Uhtred really is just a dark ages 'Sharpe' he even has an Irish side kick now and whilst Sharpe was loathed as a commoner amongst upper class twit fellow officers, Uhtred is loathed because he is a pagan amongst pious preachy christians!

That said for many years I loved Sharpe! and likewise I am loving Uhtred and the Saxons, a major part of our national history largely ignored till now! Romans and vikings by the score, Saxons, hardly any!.

Back to the book it's architypical Cornwell. Our hero is unloved by his masters, out numbered by his foe's but backed up by his savage comrades. Yes we've seen it a hundred times before from Cornwell but it is such a winning formula and he does it probably better than anyone. Also I like the stories being told from the first person perspective by Uhtred himself as you really feel like you are in the heart of the action.

This book starts with the re-taking of London from the Danes an actual event but then takes a sharp left down imagination lane to put Uhtred in a daring rescue bid. As with most Cornwell stories the action is compelling gritty and believable, the book is fast paced though perhaps a hundred pages short of what we normally expect of him.

We are promised more Uhtred action shortley by the author and I'll no doubt be there with my credit card though I hope he doesn't over do it as I felt he did with Sharpe as there are so many other great bits of history he can take us to but I have not quite had enough of Uhtred yet! So I'll be sharpening my battle axe for next time.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps getting better 5 Oct 2007
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I read the 3 first books in this series (The Last Kingdom, Pale Horseman, and Lords of the North) quite some time ago, found them all three excellent historical novels, so started "Sword Song" with high expectations. Rest assured: it's near perfect.

In "Sword Song" the struggle between Saxons and Danes has reached a new phase, with Alfred consolidating the kingdom of Wessex and trying to get a grip on the (leaderless) Mercia. Uthred has become Alfred's most important warlord, but he feels equally drawn to the Viking-world in which he grew up, and just then an army of Vikings arrives and captures London...

I really can't do this book enough justice: the battle scenes are as good as ever (and there's plenty), but above all I love the way in which Uthred keeps developing as a character. The arrogant, young warrior has become a mature man (with a fearsome reputation, true enough), and a loving husband and father.

I for one am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More death and mayhem with Uhtred 11 May 2011
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this, the fourth of the chronicles of Uhtred and the birth of the English nation under Alfred, the year is now 885 and the Danes appear to have been subdued. The treaty with Guthrum has the Danes settled in their own area of the Danelaw and the remainder of the Anglo Saxon kingdoms are apparently quiet; Alfred is now looking to consolidate his hold over the whole kingdom. This should be the high point for Alfred and all to look forward to from here; if he can keep his nephew Aethelwold from causing trouble, and hold off any more potential Dane incursions, hopefully he can bring Christianity to the whole country and start to rebuild under his own dynasty.

But for Uhtred things are not so straightforward, as the Norse under the Thurgilson brothers arrive in Lundene from Frankia. Alfred wants Uhtred's cousin Aethelred to be King of Mercia so tasks Uhtred with tidying up the problem in Lundene. While Uhtred is, as always, happy to fight and kill, he's not so happy to be involved in Alfred's schemes. All Uhtred really wants is to go home to Bebbanberg and reclaim his inheritance. But, he is a warrior and must do as a warrior does. I didn't count up the number of who died in this book, but I think it was a lot! Life sure was hard, short and brutal in those days.

Other reviewers of this book have complained that it lacks action, and that the story is stretched beyond its limits. I think that this story stands quite well in the series of five books about Uhtred, as in this one some years have passed since the last book, and relationships have settled. Uhtred finds himself content with his wife, Alfred's children are growing and demanding attention, the Danes are shifting their attention and their allegiances.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By chuckles VINE VOICE
Our Hero Uhtred just as he thinks things are settling down, he gets some new enemies to fight.... well it wouldn't be a Cornwell without would it? He is stuck fighting for the Saxons and their King Alfred, of which he has no love, and against the Danes who he has an affinity to. Not suprisingly this gives him problems just about every where he turns. This first person narrative style is different to the other Cornwell series and is a nice change. This is not the strongest in the series, but still excellent. well researched, gripping historical fiction from the master Bernard Cornwell! Only problem is I dont know when the next book is due.......
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good in Parts 29 Dec 2007
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
Bernard Cornwell is the author of the acclaimed Richard Sharpe series, set during the Napoleonic Wars; the Nathaniel Starbuck Chronicles, about American Civil War; the Warlord Trilogy, about Arthurian England; and, most recently, Stonehenge 2000 B.C. Mr. Cornwell lives with his wife on Cape Cod.

In this the fourth in the series of books about the Saxon Chronicles, Uhtred our hero from the previous books, a dispossessed son of a Northumbrian Lord now has a wife and two children and has done very well for himself. Despite is connections with the Vikings and his constant bickering with Alfred, Uhtred has been made Governor of London. It is his job to hold the city while Alfred, when he is not praying or at other religious devotions will build fortifications and maintain his push into Mercia . . .

The book is about a time when England is at peace albeit a tenuous one. It is 855 and there is still the Danish kingdom in the north and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. The Vikings still hold dreams of conquering the South and they believe that with Uhtred's help they can achieve that goal. The author is a master of this type of novel and his knowledge of this period of English history and his descriptions of battle scenes is second to none.
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