Sword Song (The Saxon Stories, #4)
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Sword Song (The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories #4)

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  9,944 ratings  ·  353 reviews
"Bernard Cornwell ranks as the current alpha male of testoterone-enriched historical fiction....This satisfying tale leaves you hungry for more of Uhtred's adventures." -USA Today

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. Warrior by instinct and Viking by nature, Uhtred, the dispos

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by Harper (first published January 1st 2007)
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Best Historical Fiction
250th out of 4,142 books — 17,568 voters
The Last Kingdom by Bernard CornwellThe Pale Horseman by Bernard CornwellLords of the North by Bernard CornwellThe Burning Land by Bernard CornwellSword Song by Bernard Cornwell
Viking Historical Fiction
5th out of 65 books — 101 voters

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Community Reviews

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Cornwell still hasn't let me down with this series. The villains are still easy to hate and there were even characters I wholly liked (Pyrlig is great.) The relative lack of major events in Lords of the North made it a slower read for me than The Pale Horseman, and although this one seemed still primarily focused on the smaller stories of Uhtred and Æthelflæd there was a ton of action and purposeful movement.

I have to say that I'm proud of Uhtred. A whole 300+ pages and he didn't commit a single...more
How frustrating. After all the glowing reviews I have left on goodreads for the other books in this Saxon series (the books that precede Swordsong), I find myself in a painfully awkward situation.
I had a genuine love-hate relationship..wait!...love-hate is too strong..let's go with...like-dislike....so, I had a genuine like-dislike relationship with this book. I liked it, yes indeed, but I didn't like all of it and I didn't always like the way it made me feel. I want to try and expound on this,...more
An absolutely fascinating era in English history; one where the tides could so easily have turned and left England as Daneland. The historical place names and character names are pretty much real and add to the whole feel of the 9th century. Where a sickly, extremely pious, but sharp witted prince becomes not only a king, when he was not directly in line to take the throne. But becomes known as King Alfred The Great, despite his frail body and constant illness, and despite (or maybe, because of)...more
I can usually depend on Mr. Cornwell to provide a good read whenever I am unsure where I want to go next. Sadly, Sword Song barely measures up. Uhtred remains bound by his oath to serve King Alfred, is told to capture Lundene (London) and other tasks. The book pretty much plods along in a straight line, nothing surprises. Meh.
rating: 5.5/5

Ah, Cornwell, you did it yet again. Love, love, love this series!

Uhtred is a little less, uh, murderous in this one (which only means he doesn't kill unarmed -priests- in cold blood). It still has the humor brutality of war, vivid descriptions of life, Uhtred's spontaneous actions, and some new wonderful (and easily hated villainous) characters. A solid novel, highly enjoyable, that had me loving every single word.

And then *bam*, Cornwell actually managed to surprise me with a plot...more
Uhtred is one of the GREATEST literary figures ever created!,

The Saxon Chronicles, panned from the outset as Cornwell trying to return to his British roots, has proven to be a juggernaut that cannot be stopped by bad and, in this case, off-base, press reviews.

Book 4, 'Sword Song: The Battle for London', continues the story of Lord Uhtred, Saxon born, Dane raised, sworn man of King Alfred the great. In this installment, Uhtred fights to take London back from the invading Northemen, the Vikings....more
Alex Telander
SWORD SONG: THE BATTLE FOR LONDON BY BERNARD CORNWELL: We last left Uhtred, in Lords of the North, apparently an ally with King Alfred, while the Vikings were making a very successful takeover of England, making it seem like there was little hope left for Alfred and his Saxon people. But Alfred has God on his side, and feels he will be ultimately victorious; Uhtred on the other hand, a pagan, cares little for this Christian religion, but is still a little unsure of where his allegiances lie.

Graham Crawford
It is a testament to Cornwell's craftsmanship that I enjoy hanging out with Uhtred. I know I should dislike him, he's vain, sullen, petty, often foolish, mostly brutal, and very occasionally, kind. And yet I am fond of him. I grimace when he falls for stupid tricks & when he is vicious without cause. I shake my head and smile when he tries to hide his real motivations from me with low cunning. Uhtred is a very clever, very flawed and very human creation.

So many writers of historical fiction...more
This was a solid entry in the Saxon Series, by Bernard Cornwell. While not as enjoyable as the second and third books, I liked this one. It kept me engaged for the most part, and wanting more story. So I’ll move on to The Burning Land soon enough, I hope.

One thing that did detract a little was the reader. For some reason, they changed narrators in the series with this book. I like the new reader, but he does pronounce several of the names differently than the previous reader. I often found mysel...more
I liked Sword Song a lot. I think it's my favorite in this series so far. The author said there was more fiction in this than in the previous novels, and I think that's why I liked it so much.

Bernard Cornwell is always faithful to historical sources in all of his works, but he's also a good story teller, so I really enjoyed the main plot in this which was mostly the author's invention.
Given to me to read by HMcD. The author is a neighbor of hers. Even though this is part of a series (kind of like skipping to the end of a book to see how it ends) I found it not a problem at all to jump into this take of England during the time of Alfred the Great (9th Century). From what I've gathered, half Saxon,half Dane Uhtred was done out of his inheritance, raised by Vikings and is now sworn by oath to Alfred. In a time when Vikings and Saxons are at war (as well as Christianity and Pagan...more
Uhtred appears again as Alfred's much maligned warlord with lots of gore and action. It's formulaic but I have to admit liking the action and even for one already steeped in the series there were surprises.i guess the author finally realised he has lots of women readers,so this plot has the softer edge with aethelfleds rather sad story. The names of course continue to annoy one..all those aethel this and that. Against the unvarnished gore and brutality of the fights, run the poetic beauty of Cor...more
Mar 08, 2009 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction and Cornwell fans.
Recommended to Ed by: John Gregory
This is the fourth volume in the Saxon Tales series with Uhtred of Bebbanberg as the main protagonist.

It is, in my opinion, the least interesting of the four. The battle scenes, as in all Cornwell's writings, are drawn with extraordinary clarity. There are also some very interesting new characters, Siegfried and Erik, two Norsemen brothers plus an assortment of priests, warriors, and women.

The thread of the story involves the desire of Siegfried and Erik to conquer Wessex, Alfred the Great's ki...more
Carol Storm
I read a few of Bernard Cornwell's SHARPE books, and I liked them. But I wasn't totally blown away by them. But this book is amazing!

Everyone remembers the middle ages as knights jousting on horseback. But Cornwell in this series goes back hundreds of years earlier, to Saxons and Vikings battling over England with axes and shields. The amazing battle scenes are so researched that you totally become a part of this primitive, brutal style of warfare -- with the shield wall meeting the terrible sta...more
Nov 29, 2013 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
My love of these books goes against everything I know/love. Yet I do. They are the bad boy in the motorcycle jacket, and I'm the honor roll nerd (for the record, me and the honor roll were distant acquaintances at best). However, these books have no secret sorrow that only the love of a good woman can discover--it's just blood and some blood and some guts and some blood. Oddly, I find this totally okay.

Now Uhtred is beating up on more Danes in Lundene (or London). He kills a lot, tricks a lot of...more

In this next to last Saxon tale, Uhtred is once again back in Wessex, pledged to King Alfred despite his best intentions, and forced to watch as Alfred relies on his military skills, while sharing his kingdom with Uhtred's slimy cousin, Aethelred.

Aethelred was a real historical figure who probably behaved better than Cornwell has given him credit for, the author admits, but he needs a villain as a foil for his hero Uhtred. In this book, we encounter two more Norse warriors, the brothers Sigifred...more
Some minor gripes for this one. Predictability in the plot--Uthred falls out of favor, odds are stacked against him, he makes an unlikely bid for victory, and all comes through. Everything ties up a little too neatly at the end, won't spoil it but please tell me that the way everything gets unstuck with the two brothers and Alfred's daughter at the end isn't just a little ridiculous. The sudden concern for Alfred's daughter being beaten. This is set in the 9th century, not the 21st. Callous Uthr...more
Znowu minęło kilka lat. Uhtred wciąż szczęśliwy ze swoją ostatnią wybranką doczekał się już dwójki dzieci, trzecie jest w drodze. Jednak nie doczekał się możliwości walki o zamek Bebbanburg; związany przysięgą z królem Alfredem spędza czas na granicy Wesseksu i Wschodniej Anglii, walcząc z duńskimi najeźdzcami.

“Pieśń miecza” kontynuuje styl znany z “Ostatniego królestwa” i “Panów Północy”, gdzie wojna, śmierć i okrucieństwo są tylko tłem dla wydarzeń o wiele ciekawszych. Polityka prowadzona prze...more
Its been a while but I was finally able to sit down and knock out the last 100 pages of Sword Song. The delay was not due to the any fault of the book, instead just life got in the way. Which is sad because Uhtred is quickly becoming one of my favorite literary characters.

In this novel, Mr Cornwell veers pretty substantially from the historical record. Well, the known record. Much of what he describes in the book could happen, we just lack the written record to back it up. Some may saw that this...more
Spencer Warner
Took a while to read this, didn't really think it was all that gripping. I've now read four in this series and found none of them particularly enthralling. That said, Cornwell's standard of research is evident and his development of the characters is exemplary. I just feel that the story lines are leaving me a bit cold.

Clearly I'm in the minority on this issue, as the critical acclaim for this series has been abundant, so if you are a bit of a history buff I'd still say this is well worth a read...more
This series of historical novels is set in 9th and 10th century Britain and focus on Alfred the Great and the creation of modern England. There are currently 8 books in the series, with the 9th due out in September 2014.
The story is told by Uhtred Uhtredson, the son of Saxon nobility in the North of England. Uhtred is a wonderful character, strong, forthright and honourable. He is captured by the invading Danes when he is just a child and is brought up by them. He then becomes a warrior for Kin...more
“Sword Song” is the fourth book in Bernard Cornwell’s “Saxon Tales” series, and it continues the tale of the fictional Uhtred who cannot seem to escape his oath of loyalty to Alfred. King Alfred has a dream of a united England under a single kingdom, but that seems a long way down the road as so many groups vie for control over the disputed lands.

I was delighted to find Cornwell went a little off his normal path of battles, manliness, and revenge as Uhtred explored his views on love and lust. I...more
I almost want to bump this down to a 3, but I feel like it may be a 3.5 and I did truly enjoy it.

Overall, Sword Song is just as enjoyable as the last three Saxon Stories books. Uhtred is Uhtred, the action is tense, and the story is one I'm deeply invested in at this point. All in all, if you enjoyed the last three books in the series you will very likely enjoy this one as well.

What didn't work for me? Uhtred believing a dead man's prophecies without displaying his typical skepticism for certain...more
The fourth installment of this series sees Uhtred at 28, with a wife he loves and two children. Uhtred is as happy as he can be, considering his Uncle is still Lord of Bebbanburg and he's oath bound to Alfred.

There are more pious priests than ever before, not as much war and fighting, Alfred is even more annoying but there are several good characters added to the Danes side and the story ends with a bang.
This was a great book and it leaves me wanting to read more.
Phil Syphe
This is the fourth instalment of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories. Uhtred – the anti-hero of the piece – narrates the goings-on during AD 885 under Alfred the Great’s kingship.

As with the previous novels in the series, this one features several vivid battle scenes, depicted in gruesome and believable detail. There’s also the usual dry humour whenever the pagan Uhtred encounters a Christian priest.

The only downside for me, as with the previous books, is the author’s overuse of dialogue attributio...more
Book 4 in the Alfred/Uhtred saga was another fast, fun read, full of pagans and pious political figures. Uhtred saves Alfred's army and country again while having to put up with Alfred's son-in-law and a host of other weak "leaders" who cause more harm than good. The fight scenes are barbaric and frenetic and seemingly endless. I can't wait to read the final book in the series and see how Uhtred gains back his freedom and his own kingdom. Another 4 star read.
The saga of the Saxon Chronicles continues with Alfred's men fighting for a new kingdom (England) under the Vikings lordship. A new books is still coming in January 2010, The Burning Land. Despite the detailed description of some battles, it is quite interesting to learn about the emerging country which will play an important role in History, specially written by an accurate historical writer.
What can I say that hasn't been said many times about these books? Wonderful stories! I love books that end with a climax that keeps you engaged to the last page and this one certainly does that with a surprise twist to the rescue of Ethelflaed.
Time to catch up with this series that I've neglected recently.
Out of the first five Saxon series books I've read so far (this being the 5th), this one is me least favorite. It is still a great novel and lots of good action but it didn't have that same edge the others had so far. This book is also called Sword Song: Battle for London, making you think that there's going to be this big huge climactic battle for London at the end or something, but they that battle comes fairly early in the book and the bigger battle (the better one I think) is at the end of t...more
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Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his mother's maiden name, Cornwe...more
More about Bernard Cornwell...
The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1) The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles, #1) The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Stories, #2) Lords of the North (The Saxon Stories, #3) The Archer's Tale (The Grail Quest, #1)

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“Love is a dangerous thing. It comes in disguise to change our life... Lust is the deceiver. Lust wrenches our lives until nothing matters except the one we think we love, and under that deceptive spell we kill for them, give all for them, and then, when we have what we have wanted, we discover that it is all an illusion and nothing is there. Lust is a voyage to nowhere, to an empty land, but some men just love such voyages and never care about the destination. Love is a voyage too, a voyage with no destination except death, but a voyage of bliss.” 6 likes
“The Lord Uhtred sought to annoy you, bishop," the king said, "and it is best not to give him the satisfaction of showing that he has succeeded.” 1 likes
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