Sword of Kings

Sword of Kings

Book - 2019
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The Last Kingdom series goes from strength to strength with Uhtred becoming ever more interesting - in so many ways a modern hero, facing a new world, with changing allegiances, but still held by traditional loyalties.
Publisher: London : HarperCollins Publishers, ©2019.
ISBN: 9780008183899
Characteristics: 334 pages :,map ;,24 cm.


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I am so happy to have discovered Cornwell's Northumbrian, pagan Saxon lord. This is the 12th of what is now officially a series of 13 novels. The ultimate story will appear in November, 2020. Unlike some reviewers, Cornwell utterly convinces me. I do not have to "suspend my disbelief" that everything depicted in his historical fiction could have happened as he describes it. His characters, male and female, are well drawn; even the minor characters, sketched in a few masterful strokes, are as large as life. Perhaps I have a better sense of history than some readers? I grew up in Kent; attended high school in the ancient city of Rochester; strolled around a 12th-century Norman castle and cathedral at lunch hour; and participated in archaeological digs where we dug up Roman pottery just across the road from my school, which was built adjacent to the city's defensive walls.

The Last Kingdom Series (originally The Warrior Chronicles) began with Uhtred as a teenager. In "Sword of Kings," he is an aging grandfather in his sixties. This, in an age when life expectancy was short, and one was looked upon as "old" in one's 40s. In my opinion, the Uhtred books are not so much historical novels as historical thrillers. Every single book has the hero in a seemingly unwinnable battle against strong and wily foes. Of course, Uhtred beats them with a mixture of sagacity and ferocity. This book is no different. However, because Uhtred is now so much older than his youngest soldiers, he is exquisitely aware of his own mortality. He knows that his time as a warrior, who has always led his men from the front line, is approaching its end. His strong body has been battered, and swift reflexes have been slowed by the passage of time. I am counting the days to be able to read the ultimate novel, while saddened by the knowledge that it will indeed have no sequel.

Feb 25, 2020

Uhtred of Bebbanburg ends up leaving his home to keep an oath that both his wife and his best friend think he should just ignore. But Uhtred feels bound to attempt anyway to keep his oath. So off he goes with just a few of his warriors. He is able to rescue the queen and her sons and ladies. No one knows when the king will die, so he is doing his best. They end up in London, alerting an old enemy of his presence, hiding out and befriending some orphan children. They have to get out of London, so they steal a slave trader's small ship, complete with enslaved rowers. Meanwhile the enemy and his warriors are after them and Uhtred feels like he just keeps making poor decisions. It is touch and go. And of course, they end up back in London in a shield wall.

Uhtred is one of my favorite fictional characters. He is a thinker, a well-known warrior, which means he has killed many others, he's tolerant of Christians, always ending up with at least one priest in his train, and he does not abuse those who have less status and power than he. He remembers when he was a slave himself.

I was delighted to hear that a twelfth installment was available, and the comments at the end give me hope that I will hear from Uhtred again.

Jan 30, 2020

Another chapter in the life of Uhtred of Bebbanberg, hopes it makes it to the Last Kingdom series on the BBC!

Jan 11, 2020

With SWORD OF KINGS, Bernard Cornwell once again claims top spot, in my view, of writers of historical fiction. Uhtred of Bebbanburg once again finds himself in the middle of court politics and kingly succession - which is so ironic since he pretty much has nothing to do with any of realms involved and lives so far from them. Nevertheless, that is how his adult life has played out. In this latest story, Uhtred finds himself bound by an oath he made should it ever come to pass that a certain individual (enemy) should claim the throne of a united Mercia, Wessex, and East Anglia. He would much rather stay at home in Northumbria, but feels a compulsion to honor his oath. He finds himself in dire straits in the middle of brief but decisive war. The tale is once again told with great skill and creativity. Great read. And, I always appreciate Cornwell's historical notes at the end of each novel - separating fact from fiction. So now were have one king again uniting three of the four major kingdoms. Only Northumbria remains in the way of the deceased King Alfred's dream of a united kingdom where all speak English and are Christians. And despite Uhtred being so entwined with the history of the other three kingdoms, there he sits in Northumbria, and a pagan at that. Can't wait for the next installment.

Jan 07, 2020

King Edward of Wessex has died (924) and rival claimants vie for his crown. Uhtred supports Aethelstan (whom he trained as a boy) and you know a big fight is coming. Uhtred must be getting fairly old by now, he reclaimed his ancestral home of Bebbanburg in the last book and Edward like his father Alfred wanted to unite the kingdoms in England. Uhtred wants to keep his Kingdom of Northumbria separate, but his son-in-law the king of Northumbria has passed away and more violence is inevitable. This is the 12th book in Cornwell’s Saxon Tales (basis for the television series The Last Kingdom) and Cornwell always makes his version of English history interesting. A quick read if you enjoy tales of history fictionalized.

Aug 09, 2019

fools. it has nothing to do with the 12th century. try the 9th century, you would be alot closer

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