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