1 November 2007

Sutcliff reviewed: Sword Song (August 1997)

Go for good writing -
Another of Blyton's traits I dislike is her laziness. I don't believe she ever researched anything - unlike her contemporary Rosemary Sutcliff, whose posthumously published Dark Ages saga Sword Song (Bodley Head, Pounds 12.99, ISBN 0 370 323 94 7) is packed with precisely described Viking sea battles and sacrifices in a linguistic smorgasbord of thongs, thralls and fiery-bearded men.

I was never a Sutcliff fan as a child, tiring too quickly of the sun glinting off the halberds of people with names that sound like Haggis Bogtrotterson, but the opening of Sword Song is a stunner: a 16-year-old boy is exiled from his settlement for the manslaughter of a monk who had kicked his dog. Beat that, Melvin Burgess.

Regrettably, the story quavers thereafter, meandering around the coast of Britain as young Bjarni sells his fighting skills to one fiery-beardy after another, but the dense historical detail and rich colours are all still there.

Go for good writing -
Times, The (London, England)
August 23, 1997
Author: Sarah Johnson

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