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Sword Song: The Battle for London    by Bernard Cornwell order for
Sword Song
by Bernard Cornwell
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, Audio, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

We last left Uhtred, in Lords of the North, apparently allied with King Alfred at a time when the Vikings were executing 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; pagan Uhtred on the other hand cares little for the Christian religion but is still unsure of where his allegiances lie.

While the first three of the Saxon Chronicles gave little hope and direction for Uhtred, he has more to fight for in Sword Song, with a wife and child, and another baby on the way. The old Roman town of London - important for its link to the Thames - has been taken over by the Vikings. If Alfred gives them London, Wessex will be next, and soon there will be little left to defend, and England will be a Viking nation. So Alfred charges Uhtred with a great task - to lead the Saxon army, as well as his own loyal men, and take back London.

At this point Uhtred is a warrior and a great leader in a shield wall. But for the siege of London, he must mount an attack from the Thames, using ships and men. It will demand all his previous skill in battle, as well as requiring him to appease both the Saxon army and his own Northmen. His plan is to appear as a Viking ally upon reaching London - which, with his history, is credible - but then to spring a trap and take back the pivotal town. The question is whether Uhtred will live up to his side of the bargain when his loyalty is challenged. Complicating matters, Alfred's daughter Aethelflęd has been recently kidnapped and is being held somewhere in London by a Viking lord; her life must be protected at all costs.

Sword Song jumps the bestselling series one big step forward, with this battle pivotal to the creation of the English nation. Ending on a cliffhanger, Cornwell skillfully leaves fans to wait another whole year for the next absorbing chapter in the story of Alfred the Great.

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