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Sword Song

(The Last Kingdom #4)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  33,498 ratings  ·  1,122 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. Warrior by instinct and Viking by nature, Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a Northumbrian lord, has land, a wife and children—and a duty to King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But a dead man has risen, and new Vikings have invad ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by Harper (first published September 3rd 2007)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  33,498 ratings  ·  1,122 reviews

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Mar 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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4.5/5 stars

This was so good and addictive. Definitely my favorite volume in the series so far.

I am so pleased with Sword Song. It seems like taking a break and pacing my reading of the series to one book per month instead of two books might be serving my experience well. From my experience with Lords of the North, I did worry whether having watched the TV series would end up ruining my reading experience of the novel
Sean Barrs
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Em Lost In Books
I loved the second half of the book, first half not so much. Loved Uhtred's bargaining skills, and how he was all in for the lovers even if it meant going against King Alfred. ...more
James Tivendale
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another cracking read with an awesome ending. That's four of these books read this month! ...more
Dana Ilie
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Promise to review as soon as possible
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. Th
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
„Wyrd bið ful ãræd.“ – „Fate is inexorable.“

I had a super long review written for this series but I deleted the document accidentally so let me share with you at least some major points to explain my reasons for loving this series so much:

* Astonishing storytelling skills. Bernard Cornwell brought 9th century England alive for me.

* Unforgettable narrator. Uhtred of Bebbanburg is unapologetic and ruthless yet lovable and admiration worthy character with brilliant military strategic mind. He i
Scott  Hitchcock
As good as book one of the series. I really like the story line and villains in this one.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Graham Crawford
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 feel
Amanda Hupe
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And the adventure continues!! Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell is the 4th book in the Saxon Stories series. As always, this book continues the chronicles of Uhtred of Bebbanburg. The year is 885 and Uhtred has given his oath to Alfred and lives with his wife, Gisela. There is peace but peace is very fragile. There are rumors that a man has come back from the dead and predicts the next king of Mercia. Aethelflaed is the daughter of Alfred and is married to Aethelred of Mercia. When she is kidnapped ...more
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
Jan 31, 2009 rated it liked it
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,
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This fourth book in the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell is marvelous! It countinues the same story of Uhtred of Beppenburg, who was born a Saxon in the ninth century. Uhtred has dual loyalties to the Saxons and to the Danes. He is pledged to King Alfred, but he loves the Danes and their warrior attitude toward life. This dual-philosophy gives the stories added drama and interest.

I wholeheartedly recommend the series; but I have not been reading the books--I have been listening to them. This b
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
**Re-read in April 2019: I'd forgotten the plot of this book so it was almost like my first time through. I like older Uhtred much better than his younger, more brash self. This is also marks where I left off with the series so from here on out all the books will be fresh and new to me. Still four stars.

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 tentati
Feb 29, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one gets 4 stars instead of 5 for only one reason: its an 'audiobook thing'. They changed narrators and although this narrator had an excellent voice, it wasn't Uhtred's voice. The new narrator sounded way too old. Once I could separate the voice from the story, I was just fine.

I am enjoying this series. It has been a solid 4 - 5 star series for me. I love the way the author has developed the characters, and some of them are quite Uhtred. He has a love-hate relationship
Georgina Ortiz
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Karen  ⚜Mess⚜
I was screaming still, but screaming my own name now, and Serpent-Breath was singing her hunger-song and I was a lord of war.
Another fantastic tale in The Saxon Stories. The battle scenes are overwhelmingly brilliant and Uhtred's compassion gives warmth to the story.

All of the The Saxon Stories, of course, center around Uhtred, but this one gives a special platform for Erik and Aethelflaed's love story. If all the The Saxon Stories weren't told in first person (Uhtred's POV) this would

Krista Claudine Baetiong
“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
Apr 10, 2016 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.
I have truly loved every book in this series, but I think that this one was my favorite so far. Again, I won't go into too much detail for fear of spoilers, but I have definitely grown attached to this cast of characters. I have enjoyed their journey (and in particular, Uhtred's journey) all along, but I think that this installment has a plot that I was able to get lost in more than the last book. Not to mention, the writing was some of Cornwell's best, in my opinion. I can't count the number of ...more
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a book! Amazing. This was Uhtred at his prime, if not then close to it. The third book still remains my favorite and I thought this was a bit slower paced but Sword Song has probably the best ending so far in this series. This book kept me up many a night but its worth it because I really love reading these books.
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Alex Telander
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.

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 irreverenc
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
Jan 15, 2016 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
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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

Other books in the series

The Last Kingdom (1 - 10 of 13 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)
  • War of the Wolf (The Saxon Stories, #11)

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