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Review: The Last Kingdom 04: Sword Song

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The year is 885, and England is at peace, divided between the Danish kingdom to the north and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. Warrior by instinct and Viking by nature, Uhtred, the dispossessed son of a Northumbrian lord, has land, a wife and children—and a duty to King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But a dead man has risen, and new Vikings have invaded the decayed Roman city of London with dreams of conquering Wessex… with Uhtred’s help. Suddenly forced to weigh his oath to the king against the dangerous turning tide of shifting allegiances and deadly power struggles, Uhtred—Alfred’s sharpest sword—must now make the choice that will determine England’s future.

Goodreads, Synopsis


Sitting down to write this review I’m beginning to forget where one book ends, and another starts since it such a wonderful continuous story. I’m also blurring lines with the TV show. If you’ve read my previous reviews of the series, you’ll know I really like the TV show, it’s one of my favourites, but the books are richer in details and character development.  

One thing I haven’t mentioned in previous reviews is how this story is written with Uhtred acting as a narrator, looking back on his life, and offering perspective. This is one of the reasons the books are so rich, Uhtred’s reflection on events in his life are written with hindsight.  

In a time of tentative peace, Uhtred is his usual unapologetic, ruthless, merciless self, but we love him because he’s so genuine. Even being how he is there is still some element of a code, he follows his heart and doesn’t care who he offends or displeases when doing something for somebody he cares about or believes in.  

The side characters are, as usual, very strong and I love Aethelflaed, dislike her husband, just like in the show. Aethelflaed’s experience throughout this book is captivating… I don’t want to give any spoilers away, so I’ll leave it at that. The development of all side character though is wonderful.  

Battle scenes is very realistic and chilling at times, Cornwell has such a wonderful way of writing. Battle scenes in some books can be dull, boring, and somewhat repetitive, they are not my favourite sections to read but Corwell is a master at writing them, as I have come to expect. He also does a wonderful job of mixing up situations, placing characters in interesting situation with meaningful decisions to make. His writing is vivid, and you really get engrossed.