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Sword of Kings: A Novel (The Last Kingdom Book 12) Kindle Edition
The twelfth installment of Bernard Cornwell’s New York Times bestselling series chronicling the epic saga of the making of England—"superior entertainment that is both engaging and enlightening” (Washington Post), and the basis for The Last Kingdom, the hit Netflix series.
It is a time of political turmoil once more as the fading King Edward begins to lose control over his successors and their supporters. There are two potential heirs—possibly more—and doubt over whether the once separate states of Wessex and Mercia will hold together . Despite attempts at pulling him into the political fray, Uhtred of Bebbanburg cares solely about his beloved Northumbria and its continuing independence from southern control.
But an oath is a strong, almost sacred commitment and such a promise had been exchanged between Uhtred and Aethelstan, his onetime companion in arms and now a potential king. Uhtred was tempted to ignore the demands of the oath and stay in his northern fastness, leaving the quarrelling Anglo-Saxons to sort out their own issues. But an attack on him by a leading supporter of one of the candidates and an unexpected appeal for help from another, drives Uhtred with a small band of warriors south, into the battle for kingship—and England’s fate.
“Nobody does the Saxon period better than Cornwell, and readers will find themselves happily immersed in the muck, mire, and machinations of the Early Middle Ages.” -- Booklist
“One of the great joys of the series is Cornwell’s skill in aging his warrior- hero who now creaks as he fights and is haunted by those he has loved and lost.” -- The Times (UK)
“The master returns with this latest addition to his wonderful Saxon chronicles.” -- Sunday Times Magazine (UK) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
BERNARD CORNWELL is the author of over fifty novels, including the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales, which serve as the basis for the hit Netflix series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B07N7G4CHZ
- Publisher : Harper; Reprint edition (November 26, 2019)
- Publication date : November 26, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 6478 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 349 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #42,139 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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This is the 12th outing for Uhtred of Bebbanburgh and Bernard Cornwell has done it again! Sword of Kings is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure set in 10th century England. Full of action, intrigue, friendship and a little bit of love, the master storyteller has given us yet another book that is impossible to put down.
Uhtred’s penchant for swearing oaths, and for standing by his oaths, once again gets him into trouble. This time he has sworn to help put Athelstan on the throne; the grandson of King Alfred and nephew of Uhtred’s former love, Æthelflaed, he is the eldest son of King Edward the Elder. But there is a question over his legitimacy and other, powerful nobles would see Athelstan’s half-brother, Ælfweard. Luckily for Athelstan, Uhtred has also sworn to kill Ælfweard and his uncle, Æthelhelm. However, fulfilling an oath is not as easy as making it!
As we have come to expect from Bernard Cornwell, the action is non-stop. the writing is up to his usual high standard, keeping the reader enthralled from the first page to the last. Uhtred gets himself into some of the worst scrapes yet, leaving the reader petrified that his luck will finally run out…
Uhtred has always been a sympathetic character to me, ruthless in battle but with a softer side for his lovers and (most of) his children. What shines through in this book, probably more so than in the rest of the series, is his friendship with Finan. These two men have been through Hell together – slavery and countless battles – and their relationship has always remained strong. In Sword of Kings it is this friendship that drives the book; their mutual trust and reliance on each other, in battle and out, is what makes this book so engaging.
Bernard Cornwell is a natural storyteller, one of the best at the craft. Sword of Kings is yet more testament to that fact. You never quite know how it is going to work out for Uhtred – he is not immune to loss and suffering – which is what always makes these books so gripping – you know he is not going to come out of his adventures totally unscathed. The suspense, the drama, the intrigue and action all come together to make yet another perfect chapter in Uhtred’s story.
The historical details concerning this book has been meticulously researched and documented, with Place Names and a well-drawn map of Wessex, East Anglia and Mercia at the beginning of the book, while at the back you'll notice a well detailed Historical Note and general explanations concerning Uhtred's story.
Story-telling is as ever of a top-notch quality, all the figures featuring in this warlike historical story, whether they are great historical or wonderful fictional, come vividly to life, and the book contains great fighting actions and superbly pictured battle scenes.
The book is set in the year, AD 924, and King Edward the Elder is at the end of his life, and in the wings there are two Princelings waiting, namely Athelstan and AElfweard, to become the next King of Wessex, East Anglia and Mercia.
Uhtred, who's safely in Bebbanburg (Bamburgh) receives a plea for help from Queen Eadgifu, wife of King Edward, and that plea will set him on a course to Cent (Kent) in an attempt to rescue her from the clutches of AEthelhelm, and so take her back with him towards safety to Bebbanburg.
On the way back Uhtred is waylaid by certain factors and heads for Lundene (London) to see and notice the lay of the land there, and while being there he gets ambushed by an invasion of reinforcements from East Anglia by AEthelhelm into Lundene, who's taken over the city by luring Merewalh out through treachery, and only by sheer luck and determination Uhtred and his followers manage to escape for a final confrontation.
What will follow is a thrilling and excitable adventure in which Uhtred and his followers, now with the help of Merewalh and his garrison, will try to invade Lundene and complete his oath to Athelstan by killing AEthelhelm and AElfweard, an oath that will fail, but his personal nemesis at this moment Waormund will certainly face his deadly wrath in an attempt to regain his famous sword, Serpent-Breath, and in doing so finally paving the way for Athelstan to become King of Mercia, East Anglia and Wessex, and ultimately also becoming a serious future threat to Uhtred's still free Kingdom of Northumbria.
Very much recommended, for this is another brilliant episode and splendid addition to the Last Kingdom series, and one that I would like to call: "A Marvellous Captivating (Uhtred) Sequel"!
Not much is known about Aelfweard, but it is unlikely that he was an incompetent psychopath. Why should the Wessex Witan have acknowledged him if this was the case? His cause of death is unknown (as Cornwell acknowledges in his comments in his postscript). I was unaware of Edward's Will, but in Anglo-Saxon times the next king was chosen by the Witan, not by his predecessor (who might have made a recommendation - eg: Harold by Edward the Confessor). Historically, Wessex chose Aelfweard, Mercia chose Aethelstan who had been brought up by Aethelflaed. Nor was there a war over the choices made as far as I know.
This separation wad not unknown in Anglo-Saxon England. In later times, Mercia and Northumbria broke with Eadwig (Edmund's son who had succeeded Eadred) because of his incompetence , and elected his brother, Edgar.
Wessex stayed with Eadwig, but elected Edgar (who became one of England's great early kings) when Eadwig died a year or so later. Later still, Edmund Ironside and Cnut made a like division after an indecisive war. When Edmund died not long afterwards (probably murdered though details are sketchy, particularly over responsibility), Cnut became sole king.
Acknowledging that Cornwell's work is historical fiction (which he does himself), it is a good read. (I got through it in an afternoon and evening). I don't like Uhtred much (arrogant and somewhat selfish), but what's wrong about depicting a flawed hero? It makes him more realistic and interesting.
As an afterthought, Cornwell has chosen to omit the fact that there was another brother, Edwin (I believe, Aelfweard's younger full brother and tacitly acknowledged as Aethelstan's heir)) who fell out with Aethelstan at a later date and was drowned at sea in a deliberately leaky boat (which Aethelstan reportedly felt guilty about afterwards). Also, Aethelstan may have intended to enable the succession of a brother (fairly common in any case (Aethelbald - Aethelbert - Aethelred I - Aelfred; Aelfweard - Aethelstan - Edmund - Eadred; Eadwig - Edgar; Edward II) - Aethelred II hence his not marrying.