Sword Song Paperback – Sep 27 2007
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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.' ObserverSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
I however give 3 stars to this volume because I was disappointed in terms of story development when I look at the series as a whole. King Albert is almost absent in this volume and the story does not really evolve. In fact it is quite the opposite; the story in this volume seems to repeat itself. Uthred is faced by two new Norse brothers/leaders, although he likes and respects them very much his oath forces him to fight them and he eventually overcome them. I realize that my comments are over-simplistic, but this is the general feeling that this book has left me with. I must admit however that I look forward to reading the next volumes as I still enjoy the style of the author and I hope that he will bring new twists to the story (and bring back King Albert as a main character!).
Most recent customer reviews
Great reading if you like Vikings and history made juicyPublished 5 months ago by kerstin gilkerson
Love it! Cornwell's a pen master and you can't go better than go viking!!Published 19 months ago by Sébastien Taillon