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Sword Song (The Saxon Stories #4)

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  18,392 Ratings  ·  597 Reviews
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—has finally settled down. He has land, a wife, and two children, and a duty given to him by King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But then ...more
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published September 2007)
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Bookworm Sean
Feb 27, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uhtred is in his prime; he has name and reputation, and he also has the youth and energy to complete his goals. He is beyond tried and tested; he is the master of his craft; he is the mighty Uhtred and he is now a war lord to be feared. I pity the man that crosses swords with him.

The shield itself, rimmed with iron, was painted with a wolfs head, my badge, and at my left hung serpents breath and at my right Wasp-sting, and I strode towards the gate with the sun rising behind me to throw my lo
Athena Shardbearer

"So long as there is a kingdom on this windswept island, there will be war. So we cannot flinch from war. We cannot hide from its cruelty, its blood, its stench, its vileness or its joy, because war will come to us whether we want it or not. War is fate, and wyrd bið ful ãræd. Fate is inescapable."

The one thing I love most of this series is the beautiful writing. Cornwell has such a way with words, how to twist them together to make these beautiful scenes even when its a horrible killing. Thes
Aug 15, 2012 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ages
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
Executive Summary: Another great entry in this series, that seemed to be over before it started. How can you not like Uhtred of Bebbanburg?

Full Review
I've never really been a big historical fiction fan before discovering this series. I'm not enough of a history buff to know what elements are true, and which are fictional. Regardless this series continues to be fascinating and engrossing.

Compared to many of the doorstopping fantasy books I tend to read, these feel minuscule by comparison. So mu
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! is too strong..let's go, 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,
Vagner Stefanello
Oct 26, 2015 Vagner Stefanello rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical
Review in Portuguese from Desbravando Livros:

Após ver a sua rixa com Kjartan chegar ao fim, Uhtred acha que poderá retomar Bebbanburg do controle de seu tio traidor. Isso acontece nesse livro? Mas é claro que NÃO! O autor Bernard Cornwell sempre nos reserva muitas surpresas e desta vez não foi diferente. Cinco anos se passaram desde a batalha em Dunholm e nosso protagonista é levado à Londres, onde os dinamarqueses, agora comandados pelos irmãos Erik e Sigefrid Thurgilson, ameaçam invadir toda W
Graham Crawford
Dec 16, 2013 Graham Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 01, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 06, 2016 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. This was another solid entry in the Saxon series. It was the first I listened to instead of read, and I thought Jonathan Keebles did an excellent job (although I see they change narrators after this book, so I will probably go back to text format).

We saw a lot more of Uhtred's compassionate side in this book, and I liked his interactions with some of the women characters. The battles were exciting. I just really enjoy this series.
Georgina Ortiz
Jan 14, 2015 Georgina Ortiz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are so many things to like about Mr. Cornwell's "Sword Song," but what stood out for me was (decidedly "pagan" and Thor devotee) Uthred's unlikely friendship with two priests: the fierce Welsh warrior Father Pyrlig and King Alfred's adviser and scholar Father Beocca.

Uhtred on choosing Father Pyrlig:
"On one side a kingdom, Viking friends and wealth, and on the other a Briton who was the priest of a religion that sucks joy from this world like dusk swallowing daylight. Yet I did not think. I
Jul 04, 2012 Billy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Alex Telander
Sep 20, 2010 Alex Telander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
In this fourth installment in the Saxon Warriors series, we find Uhtred continuing to struggle with his loyalties, faith, and destiny. While he feels more of a connection to the Norsemen, he remains paired with Alfred for inexplicable reasons. Uhtred is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and he is a cruel one. Or, as my husband's short review summed up once I convinced him to read the first few books in the series, "Uhtred is kind of a jerk."

I still found myself amused by Uhtred's witty irreverence
Jan 20, 2016 Férial rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I still love Uhtred and I even wonder if I'll ever get enough of him. I love seeing how England is slowly being built and Mr Cornwell is a master story-teller.

My only complaint is that I'm starting to see a recurent pattern in the books (hence the 4.5 stars instead of 5) : Uhtred, whose biggest dream is to have his fortress and lands back, keeps giving unwilling oaths to king Alfred (because there's always a good reason) and keeps fighting for him against the Danes (among whom Uhtred
Rebecka (is hilarious, shut up)
"I touched Serpent-Breath again and it seemed to me that she quivered. I sometimes thought that blade sang. It was a thin, half-heard song, a keening noise, the song of the blade wanting blood; the sword song."

The only negative part about this book was that it made me want to curl up in a corner, reading, and hiss when someone from the real world comes around and tells me that I have to do something productive now and, no, you can't go to England and be a Viking, no, you can't have your own lon
Apr 18, 2012 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
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.
Nov 18, 2015 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saxons and Vikings are fighting and the story of Uhtred becomes more complicated and fascinating... I have a weird feeling about the future of many of his beloved ones, but I will wait and see... Wyrd bið ful aræd...

Until then, enjoy the fight!

Sep 01, 2016 Michela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favoritos
“Toquei Bafo de Serpente de novo e me pareceu que ela teve um tremor. Algumas vezes eu achava que a espada cantava. Era um canto fino, apenas entreouvido, um som penetrante, a canção da espada que desejava sangue; a canção da espada.”
Mar 16, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I continue to enjoy this series. In the 9th century of what's now England, our rather unloveable, but still somehow endearing, rogue Uhtred of Bebbanburg continues the great conflict of his life. He likes the Danish invaders and yet continues to find himself aligned with the Saxons and King Alfred, with his dream of unifying the land into one greater kingdom, rather than just several disparate realms.

While reading this fourth volume it occurred to me that I have read some similar books before, a
May 25, 2016 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sword Song is the fourth in Cornwell's Saxon Tales series and it picks up the threads of Uhtred's life roughly eight years after the events of the last book. Those eight years have seen a tentative peace settle between the countries of Wessex, East Anglia, and Mercia. King Alfred of Wessex, his end goal of a unified England ever in his mind, has been working on shoring up the defenses in Wessex and has tasked Uhtred with a part in making a more secure Wessex a reality. But new players have arriv ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Krista Baetiong Tungol
“I sometimes thought that blade sang. It was a thin, half-heard song, a keening noise, the song of the blade wanting blood; the sword song.”

Only Bernard Cornwell can liken a deadly sword to a sweet, chaste melody, and soften the gore of battle (which practically littered in this book) with a sprinkle of humor.

I thought I was a squeamish person. But as Uthred’s sword happily sings next to the flying heads or the gouged eyes or the spilled guts, I found that I could still eat my sandwiches with d
Jan 03, 2015 Chuck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75-stars This wasn't as good as the previous installment, but it was still good; it's just the last one was REALLY good--I mean the last one had me welling up at the end: "Father! Father!" Ha-ha, I get into these books like a ten-year-old kid. Bring on number 5!
Mar 08, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 23, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Newton Nitro
Apr 12, 2015 Newton Nitro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adorei esse quarto volume das Crônicas Saxônicas. É bem curto em comparação com os outros, mas, talvez por esse motivo, muito mais focado na ação. Essa série fica cada vez melhor, a cada livro, e reforço a minha recomendação de se ler os livros em série, para uma imersão completa na Inglaterra do século 9

Cornwell does spend more time with some of the other characters in this novel, however. We see more of Uhtred’s wife, Gisela, and we get to see Uhtred as a father to his daughter. A gentle side
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
Ana Paula
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  • The White Raven (Oathsworn, #3)
  • Sons of Thunder (Raven #2)
  • The Eagle's Conquest (Eagle, #2)
  • The Death of Kings (Emperor, #2)
  • King's Man (The Outlaw Chronicles, #3)
Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother, who 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 birth mother's maiden n ...more
More about Bernard Cornwell...

Other Books in the Series

The Saxon Stories (10 books)
  • The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)
  • The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Stories, #2)
  • Lords of the North (The Saxon Stories, #3)
  • The Burning Land (The Saxon Stories, #5)
  • Death of Kings (The Saxon Stories, #6)
  • The Pagan Lord (The Saxon Stories, #7)
  • The Empty Throne (The Saxon Stories, #8)
  • Warriors of the Storm (The Saxon Stories, #9)
  • The Flame Bearer (The Saxon Stories, #10)

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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.” 25 likes
“Os guerreiros defendem o lar, defendem as crianças, defendem as mulheres, defendem a colheita e matam os inimigos que vêm roubar essas coisas. Sem guerreiros a terra seria um lugar devastado, desolado e repleto de lamentos. No entanto, a verdadeira recompensa de um guerreiro não é a prata e o ouro que ele pode ganhar nos braços, e sim a reputação, e é por isso que existem poetas.” 4 likes
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