vrijdag 19 mei 2017

"Sword Song" by Bernard Cornwell

“I am old now. So old. My sight fades, my muscles are weak, my piss dribbles, my bones ache, and I sit in the sun and fall asleep to wake tired.” 

Uhtred of Bebbanburg is still bound to Alfred by oath, although he hates the king's guts. But the mysterious appearance of a dead man, and the man's prediction that Uhtred will become the ruler of Mercia, convinces him to change sides and join the Danes.

Until he finds out he's been cheated. A promise to an old friend gets him back in Alfred's camp and the king sends him to London to capture the city from Norse leaders Sigefrid and Erik. He does the job, but it's his slimy cousin Æthelred who gets all the credit. Æthelred happens to be married to Æthelflaed, King Alfred's daughter and a girl Uhtred is particularly fond of. When Æthelred completely messes up a new raid, Æthelflaed is captured by Sigefrid and Erik and it's Uhtred who will have to risk his life to save the girl and bring her back to her husband. If she wants to go back, that is.

"Sword Song" is part four in the ongoing "The Last Kingdom" series chronicling the reign of King Alfred and his attempts to unify England. Like in the previous books, the story is told by Uhtred, an old man who looks back on his life. There's very little known about this period in history, so the story is mainly fictional. Cornwell is a master, though, at evoking the atmosphere of the era. He's a master at describing battle scenes and there are more than a few in this book. Another excellent entry in the series.

Author: Bernard Cornwell
Title: Sword Song
Publisher: Harper, London
Year: 2016 (orig. 2006)
Number of pages: 365 p.
ISBN: 9780007219735

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