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Sword Song [Paperback]

Bernard Cornwell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 27 2007
The fourth in the bestselling Alfred series from number one historical novelist, Bernard Cornwell. Our hero, Uhtred, has been made Governor of London. This fourth book in the series will mostly be set in London and will cover Alfred's building of fortified towns to hold Wesssex and his push into Mercia.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Cornwell's fourth entry in the popular Saxon Tales (following Lords of the North) is a rousing romp through the celebrated ninth-century reign of Alfred the Great. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a 28-year-old pagan Saxon lord of war, has pledged to serve Alfred by commanding the defensive frontier forts (burhs). Trouble arises when the Norse Viking brothers Sigefrid and Erik Thurgilson capture and occupy London, threatening Alfred's border and his control of the Thames River port. The Christian Alfred directs Uhtred to raise a Wessex army, expel the pagan Thurgilsons and resecure London. Commanding Uhtred is his vain, abusive cousin Ethelred, who is married to Alfred's eldest daughter, Ethelflaed. Plying his swords Serpent-Breath and Wasp-Sting, Uhtred is a stirring, larger-than-life action hero conflicted by ambition, fidelity and thirst for violence. All the major characters are well drawn, and the London battle scenes unfold quickly and vividly. A deft mix of historical details and customs authenticates the saga. And Cornwell drops in a slick twist precipitating the climatic battle to wrest control of London for the Saxons, paving the way for the story to continue. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Praise for 'The Lords of the North': 'Beautifully crafted story-telling, complete with splendid set-piece battles and relentless derring-do, so gripping that it rarely stops to catch a breath. It demonstrates once again Cornwell's enormous skill as a historical narrator. He would have graced Alfred's court entertaining the guests with his stories.' Daily Mail 'Cornwell takes the spectres of ninth century history and puts flesh back on their bones. Here is Alfred's world restored -- impeccably researched and illuminated with the colour and passion of a master storyteller.' Justin Pollard, author of 'Alfred the Great' Praise for Bernard Cornwell: 'Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation.' Daily Mail 'Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.' Observer

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still strong, but the series is weakening. May 1 2008
Uhtred continues to make his way through the events of the times with a significant impact, becoming involved in Viking invasions and the battle for London.

This is still a satisfying read, but the series has lost a little of its impact from the opening novels. At times, you feel as if Utred is marching from one historical event to another just so he can figure in all of them. There are times when his involvement seems more like a token showing and lacks the intensity and the excitement of previous situations. This could be because of the sheer number of events and the fact that we now accept Uhtred will sail through them all alive, rather like a Superman comic. The dangers of a long series are coming home to roost here, and it will be a real test for Bernard Cornwell to keep our interest in future works.

Many of the other characters remain rather one-dimensional in this book, appearing as window-dressing and adding little in the way of sub-plots and character evolution.

Fortunately, one of the main parts of the book, the battle for London is very well done.

Will the series end with a bang or a whimper? We will see.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another jewel Dec 14 2008
Cornwell has done it again. His Saxon Stories saga began with THE LAST KINGDOM, followed by THE PALE HORSEMAN and THE LORDS OF THE NORTH.

It is several years after the events of the third book of the series and Uthred, our hero, has been given the duty of building up the defences of a burgh on the border of Wessex, just upriver of London, while keeping a watchful eye on the Danes who inhabit the city.

The region surrounding the english capital becomes the playground for this wonderfully crafted book which details the battle for the control of the river Thames and the coming role of Aethelfled, daughter of Alfred, in the series.

The battle scenes are as gritty and real as ever, the plotting well thought out and unpredictable, the repartee thoroughly witty and the passion of the author for his story very palpable.

All in all, a damned good addition to Bernard Cornwell's already excellent series!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book Aug. 26 2011
I love this series by Bernard Cornwell. I've read it twice and could read it again. Great battles, plot twists, and adventures. Like the political intrigue and history. Even my wife who never reads books much like it, called them the "Uhtred books". :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weakest novel of the series so far Aug. 20 2011
The main problem is that there is seemingly no longer anything new or startling being revealed about the world shown in the first 2 books. At this point, our hero is doing the same sort of thing he's always done and not really learning anything new. Cornwell gets a little too carried away with his anti-Christian shtick, bringing in a horrific Levitical rite for no discernible reason except perhaps to make us care about the story late in the novel. The plot is taped and stapled together too, with just half-baked connections between earlier and later events. To be charitable, I think weak links in the chain of a series are pretty much inevitable. This happens to be one of them.
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