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on July 31, 2016
Sword Song is the 4th in the 7 volume Saxon series. I always wondered what was happening in the world after the Roman Empire collapsed. The series tells of England, the kings, castles, wars between kings and invasion by Vikings in the years 878 to about 925. Lots of violent wars but apparently that was how the world was then. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical novels. Apparently this series has been made into a hit series on UK television. I can understand why. The only downside is that the names of villages and towns are as they actually were in those days and now they are so different it is difficult to know exactly what areas in the British Isles the story is taking place. I gave up on trying to keep all that straight and just enjoyed the series.
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on May 8, 2017
Once again Mr. Cornwell has shown he`s one of the very best historical fiction writers around. This book continues the story of King Alfred`s battles against the Danes and his dream of a kingdom called England. The story is told through the fictional character Uthred, a Saxon warrior with ties to the Danes. This book is the fourth in the series and it can be enjoyed by itself, but is much better if read after the preceding books. I highly recommend this book and this series.
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on October 30, 2016
Sword Song is the fourth in the series, and while all the books can be read on their own (Cornwell puts in enough detail to bring the reader up to date), these books really deserve to be read in order, because it is the very slow but very significant evolution of the main character and the historical transformation of the political landscape that has been so compelling for me. I've really grown to love Uhtred, the first-person protagonist - even though he is a a hot-headed occasionally bloodthirsty pagan warrior, Cornwell gives him a marvelous perspective on the world, a sense of honor in his own way, and a great (if occasionally twisted) sense of humor. So yes, by all means, read this book, but do yourself a favor and read the earlier ones first. It will all make a lot more sense.
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Great NEW characters come to life as we continue our very strange trip through Saxons, Britons, Danes, Vikings and just plain folk.

I love historical fiction and this series meets my needs.
The story line in the first 4 books flows pick up the next book and it takes right time gaps...which I LOVE.

Cornwell does an great job of keeping the characters consistent. As I flow through the story line each character grows and develops yet I have yet to be surprised by the changes........the character growth makes sense and it consistent with each person.

I truly feel like I am in the audience listening to Uhtred tell his tale. Those Rangersons sure know how to tell a yarn........
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on September 28, 2013
These books are generally excellent but far from, I guess you could say, cheerful. There are very few really likable characters. Modern historians do not treat the Christians of this period as very admirable people and these books tend to make them quite unattractive. For instance, Alfred is really a jerk and it is a wonder, as one reviewer pointed out, that Uhtred doesn't just kill him. However, this would be really problematic for the author as the details of Alfred's death are well-known. What is equally true is that the pagans, who have tended to get a better press lately, come off no better. They are, many of them treacherous and vile, just as bad as their enemies. Only the powerless tend not to do anything vile.
The narrator/protagonist is about as bad as anyone. His greatest virtue in this reader's eyes is that he doesn't try to mask his actions under a guise of piety or loyalty to a ruler. What he cares about is his reputation, mainly as a warrior and that he dies with his weapon in his hand.
However, the action scenes and the plots and treachery that swirl from page to page make the series fascinating. Also, the author makes one aware that the armies of the time were divided between the almost useless militias and the professional soldiers that made up the fighting force of the great leaders.
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on October 7, 2016
I have been enjoying the entire Saxon Tales series. This is not my favorite of the series, but it is still lots of fun. I tend to skim through most of the battle scenes, so I did a lot of skimming, but the story is still engaging and it is interesting to learn about the history of the England and the Vikings. It have been doing some work of fiction.
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on April 24, 2013
A truly marvelous thing about Uhtred of Bebbenburg is that he is so gloriously unPC. He hates Christianity, detests Alfred the Great, revels in the blood and slaughter of battle, is not above going on Viking raids, and wants only one thing in life: he wants his lands back. Does he sound like your typical sword and sorcery hero? Not so. He's a very human fellow who believes that if he swears an oath then he must keep it. That ties him to Alfred the Great during the worst of the Viking invasions. During war, he is Alfred's right hand man capable of defeating the Viking hordes when no one else can. During peace, he is an embarrassment whose accomplishment are forgotten. Bishops whisper against him, and he is mistrusted by good Christian lords and ladies until the Vikings invade once again.

Uhtred was born a Saxon, but raised as a Viking. That gives him the ability to look at both Vikings and Saxons as real people. He finds nobility and craven cowardice in both. He prefers the company of Viking men, but tends to marry Christian women. He believes that a man can only call himself a warrior after he has stood and fought in the shield wall, but at the same time he is surprisingly adept at understanding the subtle undercurrents of Alfred's court.

This book is pure adventure. Do not look for profound thoughts on the meaning of life. Life is meant to be lived hard, and the best a man can hope for is to die with a sword in his hand so he can go straight to Valhalla. Read this if you want to revel in a realistic view of life in the Dark Ages. Cornwell does an excellent job of introducing us to a world of not very holy churchmen, conniving lords and barons, miserable living conditions, surprisingly noble Vikings, and a slight bookish king that somehow hangs on through harrowing perils to turn the entire island into England. It is amazing how close it came to being called Daneland.

Uhtred is such a delicious character that it is a shame there is no basis in history for him.
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on May 13, 2016
Another good Cornwell story. Well thought story line and characters continue to be believable. This is the first of this series I found to be somewhat predictable though. It could be a quirk of this book or it could be that I'm getting the rhythm of this series more than I did in the first three books. Whether I could predict the outcome or not this is well written, entertaining and a quick read. I really like Cornwell books and think he is a fine author. I wanted to keep turning the pages right to the very end. I highly recommend the book and hope you'll start with book 1 and read all the way through for the most enjoyment. This is inexpensive entertainment. Buy it.
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on May 11, 2017
An another adventure in the Viking invasion of Britain in the mid 800AD that is well researched, well written with interest.
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on January 4, 2015
The Saxon Tales are an addicting yarn. I can tell the Bernard was really into Uthred's (the main guy) character. He is an imaginary relative. The author says his family tree goes back to the owners of Bamburgh (Bebbanburgh). He has done well, up to "The Burning Land" which is where I am at now. Sword song was read last, I think. The history of the time in VIOLENT and Cornwell does that masterfully with the descriptions of blood and lots of gore. The reading is not for the queasy. I'm ok if I don't see it. The way he writes of the events so that it fits into the hole left by the historians of the time. So along with being a good read of history, it is an action story that can be checked out on Wikipedia.
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