“Sword at Sunset” by Rosemary Sutcliff (Chicago Review Press, 2008)

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The late Rosemary Sutcliff was a prolific writer from the 1950s through the 1970s, publishing a number of children’s books, including the Eagle of the Ninth series and a series of Arthurian novels, as well as over twenty other children’s books on historical subjects.  She also penned nonfiction works and adult fiction, including Sword at Sunset, originally published in 1963 and re-released on May 1st of this year.

Sword at Sunset features an introduction by Canadian author Jack Whyte, writer of the successful Camulod Chronicles, a nine-book series beginning several generations before Arthur was born.  Whyte freely admits that when he first discovered Sword at Sunset it changed his life, which becomes all too clear when one has read both authors.  The characterization, the tone, and the painstaking attention to historical detail and accuracy are prevalent in both works, to the point where one might think Whyte owes Sutcliff more than an introduction and homage.

In Sword at Sunset, Sutcliff creates a world where the Roman legions have left Britain, yet the sense of Romanitas remains strong, especially in the noble characters of Ambrosius and Artos the Bear. They retain not just the armor, style of combat, and the Roman military organization, but a superior, almost arrogant sense of belonging to something that was once great and could be again.  Sutcliff’s early medieval world is not as “dark age” as normally depicted in fiction, but thriving with trade and societal infrastructure across Europe still seemingly intact.  Artos the Bear spends the beginning of the book traveling to southern France where he looks to purchase strong breeds of horses to bring back to Britain to create a strong cavalry force to fight against the invading Anglo Saxons and maintain the British control and rule.

While it is not completely clear how Artos the Bear has risen to such great prominence, he nevertheless has the backing of the people, which spurs him on to defeat the Saxons in many battles.  Sutcliff introduces many familiar characters from the Arthurian world, though there is no Merlin or Lancelot (the latter originally an addition made by Chrétien de Troyes in the twelfth century), but an important appearance is made by Arthur’s incestuous sister Medraut (or Morgan). Sword at Sunset reads like a historical military text with its calculated and descriptive battle scenes that make the world come alive, to the point where the reader may indeed believe such events transpired in the fifth century, leaving the common storylines of romance and chivalry out completely, much as they were in the original time of Arthur.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on July 11th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Hyperion” by Dan Simmons (Doubleday, 1989)

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Hyperion is the first book in Dan Simmons’ epic Hyperion Cantos tetralogy.  In this opening tale, seven unique travelers are brought together on a journey, a pilgrimage to the distant and mysterious planet of Hyperion, where they will face the Time Tombs and perhaps the dreaded Shrike.  The galaxy is on the brink of Armageddon, and the pilgrims hope to somehow save it, and ultimately find their destinies on Hyperion.

Employing the structure of the Canterbury Tales, Simmons brings seven very different characters together.  It is some centuries in the future, Planet Earth is no more, having been destroyed in a science experiment now known as the “Great Mistake.”  But humanity has conquered the stars and traveled far throughout the galaxy.  It is a great age, when one can skip across thousands of light years in the blink of an eye with the use of a Farcaster: a teleportation door that takes you where you want to go, created and developed by the AI TechnoCore.

But the Ousters are coming.  A distant alien civilization about which little is known, except that they are hostile and a grave threat.  It could all end now.  The important vantage point is the distant planet of Hyperion, not even a member of the Hegemony of Man, where there are the Time Tombs.  These ancient tombs are shrouded in mystery and suspicion; all that remains of an ancient race known as the Shrike, but they may be the salvation that humanity has been waiting for.  And now these seven travelers hope to somehow activate these Time Tombs and save civilization.

Simmons begins the story in medias res, introducing the reader to these seven strangers in a world about which nothing is known, but he skillfully reveals everything through the minds, imaginations, and stories of these seven characters.  There is Het Masteen, a member of the Templars, a tall and proud but quiet race who created and control the powerful Treeships that possess the Hawking Drive which is able to send ships across the stars at astonishing speeds; Masteen is the captain of the Yggdrasill, the ship that will take the pilgrims to Hyperion; he is also one of the pilgrims with his own unique story to tell.  There is Father Lenar Hoyt, whose story is The Priest’s Tale, about the Catholic world and existence of the parasite known as the cruciform which can reincarnate life.  Colonel Fedmahn Kassad, a member of the FORCE military who is searching for a supernatural figure that has come to him many times in his dreams in The Soldier’s Tale.  Martin Silenus, in The Poet’s Tale, tells of his life as a failed poet who nearly loses his life and then begins his opus that will make him remembered throughout the centuries.

The Scholar’s Tale from Sol Weintraub is the most moving story from the pilgrims as he recounts how his daughter, Rachel, was an archaeologist studying the Time Tombs and after a strange accident begins to grow younger each day.  She returns to her family to live with them as she decreases in age, needing to have her story recounted to her each day as she no longer remembers.  Eventually a short and easy version is made to be told by Sol each morning to her.  Sol and his wife, Sarai, relive the raising of their daughter backwards through time.  And now it is up to Sol to return to the Time Tombs with baby Rachel who is now just weeks old and will soon simply disappear.

Tge Detective’s Tale from Brawne Lamia is a noir tale of her job as a private eye with a client who is a cybrid: a cloned human with electronic implants controlled by the TechnoCore.  Someone is trying to kill him and destroy his memory, and it’s up to Lamia to figure out who is behind it all.  In the final story, The Consul’s Tale, as the Consul talks of his grandparents on the planet of Maui-Covenant which was once a paradise but when the first Farcaster was opened, became a tourist destination and its beauty was destroyed forever.  The Consul also talks about his work as a secret agent for the Hegemony in infiltrating the Ousters.

The book ends with the pilgrims finally reaching the Time Tombs.  While the sequel, Fall of Hyperion, is the book which explains a lot more of the world and everything that eventually happens, there is a specialty about Hyperion, a uniqueness with it’s original characters and their incredible stories.  Simmons epic universe employs multiple forms of the science fiction genre, making it a complex and fascinating world in which most people would like to live in.  In a way, Simmons has essentially rewritten the Canterbury Tales of the far future, with some incredible stories that stand out as moving novellas on their own, and a cast of characters readers won’t soon forget.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on May 5th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Dan Simmons check out BookBanter Episode 4.

“After Dark” by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, 2007)

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In Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, After Dark, he tells a unique and compelling story of what goes on after midnight on the streets of Tokyo. It is a very different world from that of the daytime, with very different people. Murakami makes this clear by revealing that the rules of physics and reality don’t necessarily apply.

The story begins with a young girl, Mari Asai, reading a book at Denny’s after midnight, but it immediately jumps to the unusual, as Mari is greeted by a boy she hasn’t seen in a while who sits opposite her and begins conversing. She admits she plans on spending the night out, doing anything other than sleeping. The boy, Tetsuya Takahashi, tells her about his late night band practices – he is a trombonist. After he leaves for his practice, a short while passes before a strange, rough looking woman comes into Denny’s and walks straight up to Mari, telling her she is the manager of a love hotel and has found a beaten girl who only speaks Chinese in one of her rooms; Takahashi told her Mari speaks Chinese. So begins an adventurous – and at times dark and morbid – night.

After Dark tells of various characters who all go about their lives during the early morning hours in Tokyo, but who are intrinsically linked and will cross paths one or more times during the night. At the heart of the story is Mari and her love for her beautiful sister, to whom she is no longer close. Eri Asai was a girl born with a special beauty, but recently gave up on life and now spends her days and nights in a deep, almost catatonic sleep. But she is just one cast member whose life is affected on this particular night.

Murakami uses a floating camera narrator to take the reader everywhere and anywhere, where there are no bounds, where things are dark and scary. After Dark is a short, but haunting tale with some special characters who will stay with you long after you have closed the book and put it aside.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on May 1st 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Boys Are Back in Town” by Christopher Golden (Spectra, 2008)

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Christopher Golden has established himself as a talented writer within the horror genre. In The Boys Are Back in Town, he tells an incredible story, one that reminds readers there are still great books being written that will suck you in from the first page, and make you want to shut off from your life and commitments until you get to that last page.

Will James is in his late twenties and while he hasn’t necessarily managed to follow his dreams, he is a journalist working for a newspaper and is happy with the life he has. He suffers suspicion from others due to his pursuit of the supernatural and any story involving magic. However, he considers it his job to debunk these people and reveal them as the frauds they are. The high point for his weekend is his ten-year high school reunion, which begins Friday night with a meeting with Stacy, a former friend who has become an interesting and beautiful woman. But when Will asks where his best high school friend Mike is, he is greeted with anger and furious stares, and a short while later memories surface of Mike dying in a horrific hit-and-run accident during their senior year. Will is confused, for he has vaguer memories – shadows in his mind – of knowing Mike through college and receiving an e-mail from him just the week before about coming to the reunion.

The next day at the Homecoming game, Will makes a comment to another close friend, Ashleigh, about the Homecoming Queen during their senior year, but then is corrected by her. She says that it was a different person because the girl was raped the night before. Before his eyes, Will watches Ashleigh visibly change, as she recounts how she was also raped, which is why she can’t have children. Will feels his mind splitting, since he recalls visiting Ashleigh and her husband last Christmas, and seeing their beautiful twins. He knows there is something very wrong going on here, not just someone playing a prank on him; someone is messing with his timeline, his reality, changing events. He has some ideas about who is involved, but he’s going to have to go back to the life of magic that he had deliberately forgotten; it will require using a spell that will take him back to his high school years. He’s going to have to stop whoever is doing this, whoever is rewriting history, and changing his life before his very eyes.

The Boys Are Back in Town will horrify and astound, as well as bring back memories of your high school era. Golden writes with a skill and emotion that brings these years to life on the page, while adding a deadly element – for memories are meant to stay the same, and are not supposed to change on the fly.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on May 1st 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Christopher Golden check out BookBanter Episode 12.

“Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf, 2008)

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Jhumpa Lahiri, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Interpreter of Maladies, and author of The Namesake, returns after five years with Unaccustomed Earth, a collection of eight stories that are longer than short stories but not quite novella length. It’s split into two parts. The first consists of five individual stories, while the second part consists of the last three tales, each involving the same two characters: Hema and Kaushik.

The first story, “Unaccustomed Earth,” involves a family who recently moved to Seattle. After the death of Ruma’s mother, she is left feeling guilty over the decision of whether or not to invite her aging Baba (father), to live with them. Not sure how to handle this, she invites him to stay with her for a week. Over the course of their time together, father and daughter rekindle their relationship, while secrets are revealed about their separate lives. Baba also meets and falls in love with Ruma’s son, Akash, looking after him, teaching him some Bengali, and treating him like a grandfather should – giving him more respect and attention than he has ever given Ruma. At the end of the week, Baba goes back home to his secret girlfriend and life of travel, leaving Ruma unsure, and the reader wanting more. “Unaccustomed Earth” sets the tone for the book, which offers stories of lives with problems and decisions and changes that affect all the characters. But it is those of Indian descent who have to deal with how much of their original culture they hold on to in their American lives.

“A Choice of Accommodations” is an interesting story about an interracial couple who are having problems with their marriage. During a weekend attending a friend’s wedding, they rediscover their love and respect for each other. The most compelling story of the collection is “Nobody’s Business,” involving a young Indian girl, Sangeeta, who is involved with an Egyptian man, but continuously has suitors calling her with the hope of a meeting and eventual marriage. What makes the story interesting is that it is told from the perspective of the roommate, Paul, who has a crush on Sang, and finds himself unavoidably involved in her romantic and personal life while trying to complete his doctorate. At first the story seems to go in an obvious direction, it eventually moves off on a new tangent as things change in Sang’s relationship and she ends up moving back to England, with Paul having to deal with the leftover pieces.

Lahiri continues to do what she does best, creating strong, unique characters who stay with readers after the story is over. Sadly, Lahiri fails to take risks with her writing, always portraying Indian characters who – like herself – come from an affluent, upper class upbringing, in most cases in New York or New England. Perhaps in her next work, Lahiri will branch out from her write what you know world and venture into new territory. Nevertheless, Unaccustomed Earth is a fascinating collection of stories involving Indian characters struggling with issues involved in being American, but at the same time keeping their original heritage and culture alive.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on April 25th, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices” Edited by Ellen Datlow (Del Rey, 2008)

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One of the most important and prolific editors of science fiction and fantasy anthologies today returns with The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices. The key term here is speculative, for while most of these shorts lack the science fiction and fantasy elements that have come to define such stories for genre readers, they are all set in seemingly ordinary worlds with outlandish and incredible plots that defy the imagination.

After an inspiring introduction from Datlow on the importance of short stories in the genre of fantastical fiction, the collection begins with “The Elephant Ironclads,” set in an alternate 20th century world, where a Navajo nation aims to become a recognized world power, but at the same time wants to maintain its unique culture. Pat Cadigan’s “Jimmy” is a supernatural story set just a short time after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Elizabeth Bear’s “Sonny Liston Takes the Fall” takes readers on an emotional and moving journey about the famous heavyweight fighter’s life and death. The high point of the collection is Margo Lanagan’s “The Goosle,” a dark and twisted Hansel and Gretel retelling, involving mass murder, the bubonic plague, and sexual slavery.

The perfect choice for science fiction and fantasy fans looking for new authors and truly original ideas, The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy offers up sixteen special stories from today’s freshest voices.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on April 25th, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Infected” by Scott Sigler (Crown, 2008)

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Scott Sigler is a special, new kind of writer to join the publishing world; one might even call him an author of the twenty-first century.  He wanted to bring his work to the people of the world, for free.  He began on March, 2005, by podcasting his book Earthcore a bit at a time, with continuous updates.  Earthcore was branded as “the world’s first podcast-only novel,” and Sigler started off with three listeners; at the end he had over ten thousand subscribers.  He followed this with Ancestor, Infection, and The Rookie, and currently has over thirty thousands subscribers.  And now, with a big name publisher, Sigler brings Infected to the people of the world in book form (a free version is also available on podcast).

In Infected, something is seriously wrong with the world.  Something is making people crazy, crazy to the point where they are driven to kill others, their family, and then to horribly mutilate themselves, finally taking their own lives.  The government is trying its best to keep this whole thing a secret, and at the same time trying to find out what’s making people do this and find a solution as fast as possible.  CDC is working non-stop, the big problem is once they get to one of the bodies of these “special” people, the rate of decomposition is so rapid that they don’t have enough time to perform autopsies and fully examine the bodies before they are left with nothing more than a black murky puddle.

Sigler has done his research, giving the novel a classic Michael Crichton feel, going into the science and the biology as members of the CDC try to find out what sort of “infection” is making people kill others, and more importantly how contagious it is.  While there is a lot of “head jumping” from various characters that can leave the reader a little disoriented, and the writing at times seems to need some editing, with the flow being disjointed; Sigler clearly has a unique voice in Infected that will only get better with successive books.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 29th, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“World Without End” by Ken Follett (Dutton, 2007)

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There are books that you read, with vaguely interesting stories, that sometimes within less than a month have been forgotten, ignored, barely recollected except for title, author and a minor recall of plot.  Then there are books that change your mind on life, that give you a thrill as you read them and think about how much you’re loving to read this particular book, and how it’s making such an impression on you, and how you’re going to remember it for a long part of your life.  I don’t need to tell you which kind of book World Without End is.  I’m also not going to give you a formal, regurgitated plot summary that you can find in just about any review of this book.  I am however going to try to convince you why you should read this book with the intention that it will have the same pivotal impression on you as it did on me.

While I have never been a fan or proponent of the seemingly omnipotent Oprah and her book club, she nevertheless has the power to make a considerable number of Americans do, and more importantly, read whatever she tells them.  In January of this year, Oprah nominated Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth for her book club and overnight people of all different kinds, and of unexpected types, picked up this lofty paperback tome set in the Middle Ages and documenting the fascinating building of a giant cathedral with immense architectural detail.  It’s one of my favorite books, and to see so many people buying it and reading it made me happy.  Naturally, once these people got to the last page of Pillars of the Earth, and assuming they enjoyed it as much as Oprah said they would, they would then turn to World Without End.  Follett’s new book has been labeled as the sequel of Pillars of the Earth, which is not exactly correct, for none of the original characters are in the new book, and it is set in a later period; however it involves descendants of the main family in Pillars of the Earth, and there is the memory and impression left by characters both in historical record and physical form, such as the cathedral.  But World Without End takes many giants leaps further forward as a deeper and more complex book than Pillars of the Earth ever did, equivalent to an ant making its way along a path, while a person looks down upon the ant as they walk by.  Perspective is the key here, and if one has some knowledge of the fourteenth century, one will enjoy the book all the more.

Don’t look for the good guys to always win out, and the bad guys to fail in World Without End because, like real life, this world does not reward those who do good and punish those who do bad; it’s a harsh world that gives more opportunity to the survivors of the fittest.  You must also remember that this is the fourteenth century, the time of the peasant and noble, a time where class distinction was at the most severe and was a defining character of every person.  Though while there is all this suffering, one cannot help but think at some point it must get better for the characters you like, and worse for the characters you hate, and this is after all a novel; but don’t expect Follett to do anything you might predict.

The fourteenth century had a lot going on throughout Europe, and what makes World Without End an incredible novel is that Follett uses the monumental and catastrophic events in microcosm focused through a couple of small towns in England.  There were cooling temperatures, which led to crop failure and starvation for many peasants, known as the Great Famine; coupled with this was the uprising of peasants against their noble overlords, who had subjugated and oppressed them for so long, known as the Peasant’s Revolt.  Then there was the growing guild system, where anyone wanting to become skilled in a trade would have to be invited to become a member of a guild.  There was the horrific plague that is estimated to have wiped out half the population of Europe, known as the Black Death.  There was also the moving of the papacy from Rome to Avignon, which created a fission in the Christian faith and led to questioning and critique of the absolute religion.  Finally there was the seemingly never ending Hundred Years War.

Follett skillfully uses these events in World Without End, weighing in at 1024 pages, but never overtly calls out any of them for what they are, partly because a lot of the terms and names for the events were not yet in existence, and because he seeks to be less overt and obvious, but to have these events occur in most cases beyond the scope of these small towns, to be events occurring far away that have little importance and effect on the citizens of the town – much like the Iraq War is for the American people today.  At least this seems the case at first, and then the subliminal effects come into play, where men head off to war, craftsmen have to fight to get into guilds, peasants are suffering and in some cases starving, the church is overbearing in its control and being questioned, and finally with the arrival of the plague, the people’s lives and the towns are changed forever.

World Without End takes you on a journey through the fourteenth century, but not via a history lesson, but in the important and complex lives of some ordinary townspeople of varying classes, their loves and losses, their hopes and dreams, their despair and suffering.  It’s a moving and some might say depressing book, but as I mentioned, the fourteenth century was a tumultuous time to say the least.  But when you get to the last page, you’ll wish it had never happened; you’ll wish for more story, for more characters; you’ll wish to remember this incredible tale for a long time.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 2nd, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Duma Key” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2008)

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Most Stephen King fans will admit that the last couple of novels by the international bestselling author, while selling well, have been somewhat lacking coming from the renowned horror writer; one might even go so far as to use the term “mediocre”; and don’t get me started on Cell.  Thankfully, with the arrival of Duma Key, the slate has been wiped clean and the master of horror is back!  King’s first novel set in his alternate home of Florida weighs in at over six hundred pages, and while it reveals a more laid-back and matured author, with the terrifying days of The Tommyknockers and It perhaps over; Duma Key is nevertheless an incredibly well written novel with some wonderfully deep and complex characters, and a world that is just as complicated but in many more ways real.

Enter Edgar Freemantle.  An entrepreneur who started a construction company and developed it into a multi-million dollar business; loving husband of two adult daughters; until he is involved in a freak on-site accident that should’ve killed him, but leaves him missing his right arm, a couple of slowly healing broken ribs, and a damaged mind that results in outbursts of anger and violence.  The strain becomes too great and Freemantle’s marriage falls apart, leaving him an angry, empty shell. Seeking escape, he leases a beautiful house on the island of Duma Key.  While watching the breathtaking sunsets, Freemantle decides to try his hand at some artwork, having sketched a little throughout his life.  He discovers the more he works, the better he gets, soon switching to paints and canvasses; he also discovers that painting satisfies the seemingly insatiable itch in his missing right arm.  Freemantle’s work is of the sunsets and the beautiful coastline, along with the occasional abstract object added in to offset it; he is eventually tagged as an American Primitive, but as more and more people discover his work, they are amazed by it and at his first gallery showing all works listed for sale are sold.

But beneath the art, there is a sinister plot at work, because this is after all a Stephen King novel.  Freemantle discovers a psychic ability in his work, painting items he should know nothing about, as well as the eventual power to paint events that come to fruition: whether it be the restoring of blindness, or the forced suicide of a serial killer.  And then there’s something wrong with the sold paintings: death follows them.  The plot thickens, deepens, and becomes darker as the enigmatic history of Duma Key is discovered.  It seems Freemantle isn’t the only person in its history to come to the island with a fragile mind and a special ability expressed through art.  Then there’s the south side of the island which has become an overgrown and seemingly impenetrable jungle.  The last time Freemantle and his daughter, Ilse, took a trip headed in that direction, Ilse immediately felt nauseous and horribly sick, while Freemantle felt the insatiable familiar itch that grew to an unstoppable buzzing; upon driving back north, they mysteriously found their ailments disappearing.  Clearly something evil and powerful doesn’t want them getting to the south of the island.

Duma Key is not just a novel for the fans, but a cathartic response from King over his near-death accident in 1999; no doubt he relived his agonizing recovery while writing about Freemantle, and yet it is because of this firsthand experience, that Duma Key feels much more personal and empathetic.  Also being King’s first foray into his new sometime Florida home, one might think his fellow Floridians a little unhappy on this introduction, or being Stephen King, they may feel the opposite and expect this.  Regardless, Duma Key is a welcome return of the great horror writer, with an extra development of character and setting that King seems to have discovered in his later years, making this book one of his best, and one of my personal favorites.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on January 27th, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Sword Song: The Battle for London” by Bernard Cornwell (Harpercollins, 2008)

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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.

While the first three of the Saxon Chronicles gave little hope and direction for Uhtred, in Sword Song, he has more to fight for with a wife and child, and another baby on the way.  The old Roman town of London, an important one with its link to the Thames, has been taken over by the Vikings.  If Alfred gives them London, Wessex is next and soon there will be little left to defend and England will be a Viking nation.  So Alfred charges Uhtred with this great task to use 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 with the siege of London, he must mount an attack from the Thames, using ships and men.  It will involve all his previous experience with battle, as well as appeasing both the Saxon army, and his own Northmen.  His plan is to appear as an ally to the Vikings upon reaching London which, with his history, is a possibility, but then to spring the trap and take back the pivotal town.  The question is whether Uhtred will live up to his side of the bargain, with his loyalty being challenged.  Coupled with this is Aethelflæd, Alfred’s daughter, who 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 pivotal battle in the creation of the nation of England and its people.  Ending on a cliffhanger, Cornwell skillfully leaves fans having to wait another whole year until they can get the next important chapter in the story of Alfred the Great.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on January 27th, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Bernard Cornwell check out BookBanter Episode 5.