“could have placed all my household troops in the small houses and, the moment the raiders came, erupted into the street with sword, ax, and spear, and we would have killed some of them, but in the dark many more would have escaped and I did not want one to escape. I wanted every Dane, every Norseman, every raider dead. All of them, except one, and that one I would send eastward to tell the Viking camps on the banks of the Temes that Uhtred of Bebbanburg was waiting for them.”
In Sword Song, Bernard Cornwell’s fourth in the Saxon Tales saga, Uhtred again finds himself torn between his love of Danes and his oath to King Alfred of Wessex. Pledged to take London (Lundene) as a wedding gift for Alfred’s new son-in-law, he struggles again under hesitant and incompetent leadership. Married and with children of his own, his thoughts as battles approach are clouded even more.
““We go to the gate,” I said, “Ludd’s Gate.” But I did not move. I did not want to move. I wanted to be back at Coccham with Gisela. It was not cowardice. Cowardice is always with us, and bravery, the thing that provokes the poets to make their songs about us, is merely the will to overcome the fear. It was tiredness that made me reluctant to move, but not a physical tiredness. I was young then and the wounds of war had yet to sap my strength. I think I was tired of Wessex, tired of fighting for a king I did not like, and, standing on that Lundene wharf, I did not understand why I fought for him. And now, looking back over the years, I wonder if that lassitude was caused by the man I had just killed and whom I had promised to join in Odin’s hall. I believe the men we kill are inseparably joined to us. Their life threads, turned ghostly, are twisted by the Fates around our own thread and their burden stays to haunt us till the sharp blade cuts our life at last. I felt remorse for his death. “Are you going to sleep?” Father Pyrlig asked me. He had joined Finan. “We’re going to the gate,”
I thin that I basically write the same review for each of the novels in this series. They are so well written and thrilling that I look forward to the next book. If you enjoy books from this period, you’ll find none better. If you don’t enjoy books from this period, you should try it…you’ll like it.