Destiny is all, Ravn liked to tell me, destiny is everything. He would even say it in English, “Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.
Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.
We all suffer from dreams.
The bards sing of love, they celebrate slaughter, they extol kings and flatter queens, but were I a poet I would write in praise of friendship.
He tolerated his fellow Englishmen, but the Welsh were cabbage-farting dwarves, the Scots were scabby arse-suckers, and the French were shriveled turds.
The preachers tell us that pride is a great sin, but the preachers are wrong. Pride makes a man, it drives him, it is the shield wall around his reputation... Men die, they said, but reputation does not die.
Fate is inexorable.
Life is simple," I said. "Ale, women, sword, and reputation. Nothing else matters.
A leader leads,” Ragnar said, “and you can’t ask men to risk death if you’re not willing to risk it yourself.
Wyrd bið ful āræd. Fate is inexorable.
Madness ends sometimes. The Gods decree it, not man.
Why do we fight?" he asked. "Because we were born.
Wyrd biõ ful ãræd,” I said. Fate is fate. It cannot be changed or cheated.
And you look bloody young to be a sergeant" "I was born late, sir
All those separate people were a part of my life, strings strung on the frame of Uhtred, and though they were separate they affected one another and together they would make the music of my life.
Doubtless there were insanely frenzied warriors, but there is no evidence that lunatic nudists made regular appearances on the battlefield.
There is such joy in chaos. Stow all the world's evils behind a door and tell men that they must never, ever, open the door, and it will be opened because there is pure joy in destruction.
Latin! The language of God! Or perhaps He speaks Hebrew? I suppose that’s more likely and it will make things rather awkward in heaven, won’t it? Will we all have to learn Hebrew?
I wondered why the gods no longer came to earth. It would make belief so much easier.
Robin Hood’s Lament”?’ Every archer knew that tune.
It was funny, Richard Sharpe thought, that there were no vultures in England.
Who do you serve?” Lanferelle asked. “Sir John Cornerwailled,” Hook said proudly. Lanferelle was pleased. “Sir John! Ah, there's a man. His mother must have slept with a Frenchman.
We are all lonely and all seek a hand to hold in the darkness. It is not the harp, but the hand that plays it.
And, in her fury, she slapped the king with a skinned eel.
Wyrd bið ful āræd. Fate is inexorable. We are given power and we lose it.
Religion makes strange bedfellows.
If a man can’t remember the laws,” Ragnar said, “then he’s got too many of them.
She was as faithful as a morning mist, as hard as a sword-bayonet, and that, he thought, made her a suitable reward for a soldier.
Shun epic verse.
It was an unsettling thought, that somehow we were sliding back into the smoky dark and that never again would man make something so perfect as this small building.
...victory does not come to men who listen to their fears.
Someone wise, I forget who, said we must leave our children to fate.
The gods are capricious, and I was about to amuse them. And Alfred was right. I was a fool.
Love's madness, swinging from ecstasy to despair in one wild second.
You're not a Christian, are you?" "No." "You should consider it. We may not offer too many earthly delights, but our lives after death are certainly worth having.
To ask another man’s blessing is simply to avoid taking the responsibility.
Always fight the horse, not the rider.
It takes a weak man to prove his strength by striking a woman.
Obadiah Hakeswill had never been concerned by such enmity. Power did not lie in being liked, but in being feared.
The Immortals were about to engage the Impregnable. The unbeaten would fight the unbeatable.
Laughter in battle. That was what Ragnar had taught me, to take joy from the fight.
I shook my head. ‘Killing isn’t woman’s work,’ I said. ‘Why not?’ she asked. ‘We give life, can’t we take it too?
I liked those tales. They were better than my stepmother’s stories of Cuthbert’s miracles. Christians, it seemed to me, were forever weeping and I did not think Woden’s worshippers cried much.
I had learned to hide my soul, or perhaps I was confused. Northumbrian or Dane? Which was I? What did I want to be?
I could imagine Cnut sitting there and thinking that I must join him soon, and we would raise a horn of ale together. There is no pain in Valhalla, no sadness, no tears, no broken oaths.
I have a path to follow," I said, "and it goes north. North back to Bebbanburg.
The Lord Uhtred sought to annoy you, bishop," the king said, "and it is best not to give him the satisfaction of showing that he has succeeded.
Start your killers young, before their consciences are grown. Start them young and they will be lethal.
In madness lies change, in change is opportunity, and in opportunity are riches.
How does a lawyer lie?” “With passion, Mr. Starbuck, and with a self-inflicted belief, albeit temporary, that the facts he is reciting are the very stuff of God’s own truth.
Instinct is everything.
There’s a time for caution,’ I said, ‘and a time to just kill the bastards.
I sometimes think,' Merlin said when no more suggestions were offered, 'that I am doomed to live among idiots.
Thomas, I can pull down you're pants and point you downwind, but even with the Lord's help I can't pee for you.
Words are like breath," she said, "you say them and they're gone. But writing traps them.
I was just twenty-one and my name was known wherever men sharpened swords. I was a warrior. A sword warrior, and I was proud of it.
You know what circumcision is, Private?
He was watching my eyes. A man who uses a sword with lethal skill always matches his opponent's eyes.
My son smiled. “You taught me well, Father.” “What did I teach you?” “That a spear-point in a prisoner’s liver is a very persuasive thing.
You’re the son of a king,’ I told him, ‘and one day you might be a king yourself. Life and death will be your gifts, so learn how to give them, boy.
Only the gods tell him what to do, and you should beware of men who take their orders from the gods.
I had the arrogant confidence of a man born to battle. I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred, son of another Uhtred, and we had not held Bebbanburg and its lands by whimpering at altars. We are warriors.
So I woke, I listened, and I heard the small sounds of a wood at night, the things moving, the claws in the dead leaves, the wind’s soft sighs.
The rules were simple: trust no one, be ever watchful and if trouble came hit first and hit hard. It had worked for him so far.
Arrows of insight have to be winged by the feathers of speculation.
Only a fool takes pride in pretending that a skill he doesn’t possess is worthless.
You bastard!' he shouted. He was quick. No warrior stays alive by being slow.
Violence may not be good, my friend, but it has a certain efficiency in the resolution of otherwise insoluble problems.
That is why battles of the shield wall are slow to start. Men have to nerve themselves for the horror.
That dawn is seared on my memory, burnt there by the flames of a hall-burning. There was nothing we could do except watch.
He needed to know it, see it, smell it, and survive it. I was training the boy not just to be a warrior, but to be a king.
We live in a world where the strongest win, and the strongest must expect to be disliked.
I was angry. I wanted blood in the dawn.
It was madness. And, as Finan had said, sometimes madness works.
Hengall the Warrior hated war. The business of life, he liked to say, is to plant grain, not blades.
We don't build,' I said to my son, 'we just destroy.
Everyone looks old to the young,” Ravn said.
And Eoferwic, I thought, was where my story had all begun. Where my father had died. Where I had become the Lord of Bebbanburg. Where I had met Ragnar and learned of the ancient gods.
We had to fight, because to decline battle was a defeat.
I was doing everything wrong. I was confused. Confusion is inevitable in battle, but indecision is unforgivable, and I had hesitated to make any decision and then made all the wrong ones.
Lord Derfel, you do insult a man so very easily. What was it to be? My head in a pit dunged by slaves? What a paltry imagination you do have. Mine, I fear, sometimes seems excessive, even to me.
They smile and sing their psalms and preach that their creed is all about love, but tell them you believe in a different god and suddenly it's all spittle and spite.
There’s war between the gods, Uhtred, war between the Christian god and our gods, and when there is war in Asgard the gods make us fight for them on earth.
She is a woman, and what women want, they get, and if the world and all it holds must be broken in the getting, then so be it.
Cnut Longsword had near killed me with his blade Ice-Spite and it was small consolation that Serpent-Breath had sliced his throat in the same heartbeat that his sword had broken a rib and pierced my lung.
An army, I learned in time, needs a head. It needs one man to lead it, but give an army two leaders and you halve its strength.
Well damn him. I was not dead yet, and so long as I lived I would fight for Æthelflaed.
How can a god disapprove of a good hump?
Play with the devil," Finan said, "and you get burned.
Haesten. If this world ever contained one worthless, treacherous slime-coated piece of human dung then it was Haesten.
A bastard son must fight his own way in the world. Osferth knew that.
Thousands!" Appah Rao’s tone mocked the claim. "You may have thousands, Colonel, but the Tippoo has tigers.
His charms worked, for though the bullets flicked close none hit him. He was the tiger of Mysore, he could not die, only kill.
He was a startlingly handsome young man, and that, too, distracted him for girls were attracted to him like priests to gold.