To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Review this product
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
3.0 out of 5 starsRepetitive Story Line
Reviewed in the United States on March 8, 2018
I am getting a bit tired of Uhtred's bad attitude, especially as the narrator in his old age. I'm also wondering why Uhtred is considered so great when others have to constantly save his a**. I like the story, but it is redundant since it is the same theme throughout all of the books in this series. It would help if the author actually developed the characters a bit better. I like Uhtred in the couple of books, but by halfway through the series, I was starting to dislike him more and more. He can't raise an army big enough to take back Bebbanburg, yet he insists on serving a king that does not reward him. Talk about digging one's own hole. To be honest, my favorite character in this series of books is Finan. Too bad the author didn't give us a closer look at him because Uhtred has become entirely too predictable.
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2018
I bought this immediately after watching series three of The Last Kingdom on Netflix. I was quite anxious to read something a little more engaging than my last lengthy novel, and this suited the need nicely.
We find Uhtred leading, for him, a calm life in Coccham, until he's tempted by Alfred's eternally dissatisfied nephew Aethelwold to listen to a viking ghost - who predicts he, Uhtred, will be King of Mercia. That's something to contemplate while he watches his annoying cousin marry Alfred's daughter Aethelflaed. Of course the Saxon - Dane relationship is ever uneasy, and Aethelflaed's abusive new husband is quick to flex his new status over Uhtred when it comes to fighting for Alfred, while the church is still calling Uhtred a "pagan" (if not worse) at every turn, causing divided loyalties, danger for Aethelflaed, and no end of fighting - in fact there's constant fighting, let's just be frank here - and betrayal.
It's an exciting story, which ranges a bit from the Netflix story line - so you get some surprises. If it seems a little lighter than some of Cornwell's other efforts, perhaps that's because it moves quickly. I was disappointed that the book only covers about half of the Netflix series III episodes, but that is a lot of ground. Hard to put down.
This is the fourth book in Cornwell's Saxon Series. I've enjoyed all the books in the series, which looks like it'll be at least 13 books. If you love historical fiction, this is truly enjoyable reading. If you're a history buff, remember this is fiction and expect Cornwell to take liberties with timelines and relationships. This is pretty standard in historical fiction but Cornwell does it well and it's less distracting than it could be. This series is an insightful journey into life and times in Anglo-Saxon Britain. Written from the perspective of Uhtred, son of a Northumbrian nobleman raised by Vikings, Cornwell paints a portrait inclusive of all the diverse peoples and cultures in 9th & 10th Century Britain and tells a riveting tale of the birth of England. Great reading.
5.0 out of 5 starsThe sound of Serpents Breath swing is music to my ears!
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2017
The sound of Serpents Breath swing is music to my ears!
There are so many great things to say about this book, actually the whole series so far and just to think I’m only into the 4th book. First let me say though, this author knows how to capture his readers. Every sentence is a cling on to the next great action. The drama and war action just constantly unfolds throughout the whole book.
Here are a few of my notes and thoughts on different things I found interesting.
Alfred has Uhtred’s oath of loyalty and obedience which drives me insane because Alfred though he is king is in my opinion not worthy of Uhtred’s loyalty. I really don’t like Alfred the Great in this novel, no I believe He owes everything to Uhtred, as without him he would have lost his kingdom long ago, yet time and time again he rewards him with punishment. I cannot comprehend why Uhtred still fights for this man.
Aethelflaed, Alfred’s daughter – beautiful daughter but I can see she will be used as a tool for Alfred. Her story is beyond interesting already as he marries her off only for a gain and then the idiot she is married to is an abusive pig. Yet she is the Kings daughter and the King accepts this action and does nothing – Using the reasoning from the book that Uhtred explained -
“The message certainly matched Alfred’s philosophy, for he believed that a kingdom could only thrive if it was ruled by law, was ordered by government, and was obedient to the will of God and the king. Yet he could look at his daughter, see her bruises and approve? He had always loved his children. I had watched them grow, and I had seen Alfred play with them, yet his religion could allow him to humiliate a daughter he loved?”
Onto more cheerful things, I really like Uhtred’s beloved friend Ragnar Ragnarson, he’s the type of guy who is strong and fierce when he wants to be.
My favorite part of the book is the battles and the understanding of the battles by Uhtred. Here are just a few of his philosophy if you will or planning techniques that I really admired.
“the joy of battle was the delight of tricking the other side. Of knowing what they will do before they do it, and having the response ready so that, when they make the move that is supposed to kill you, they die instead.” “In battle a man risks all to gain reputation. In bed he risks nothing. The joy is comparable, but the joy of a woman is fleeting, while reputation is forever. Men die, women die, all die, but reputation lives after a man”
Here is one scene I really liked:
“Lord” “You told us it was death to leave the shield wall.” “You left the shield wall, lord,” Osferth said, almost reprovingly. I straightened and touched my arm rings. “You live,” I told him harshly, “by obeying the rules. You make a reputation, boy, by breaking them. But you do not make a reputation by killing cripples.”
I liked his take on Lust & Love:
“Lust is the deceiver. Lust wrenches our lives until nothing matters except the one we think we love, and under that deceptive spell we kill for them, give all for them, and then, when we have what we have wanted, we discover that it is all an illusion and nothing is there. Lust is a voyage to nowhere, to an empty land, but some men just love such voyages and never care about the destination. Love is a voyage too, a voyage with no destination except death, but a voyage of bliss.”
“perhaps love is friendship more than it is lust, though the gods know the lust is always there.”
LETS NOT FORGET THE LOVE WITHIN THE BOOK I am so glad Uhtred and Gisela are together and I think I like her better than the women he has been with so far. I loved the fact that he has 2 children. Here is the description from the book.
“My son. He was four years old with hair as golden-colored as mine and a strong little face with a pug nose, blue eyes, and a stubborn chin. I loved him then. My daughter Stiorra was two years old. She had a strange name and at first I had not liked it, but Gisela had pleaded with me and I could refuse her almost nothing, and certainly not the naming of a daughter. Stiorra simply meant “star,” and Gisela”
The thing I enjoy most about this series is the way it is narrated by an Uhtred who is looking back on his life. EXCELLENT READ! I highly recommend reading the series in order so you can follow the war and growth of each character.
4.0 out of 5 starsActions, oaths, and more trouble for Uhtred.
Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2019
More action, more oaths, and more trouble from several quarters challenge Uhtred of Bebbanburg, as he reflects upon his adventures from a mature point of view. Thankfully most of the narrative comes from Uhtred in the midst of that action, as stories told mostly from flashback are often tedious. This tale in the continuing saga of The Last Kingdom was even more enjoyable than the previous, which is significant, because multiple sequels often pale in comparison to the initial story's spark.
The historical tidbits upon which Cornwell builds his fiction feature many battles, big and small. When combined with the many acts of cleverness and instinct with which Cornwell weaves Uhtred's fate, every chapter entices. I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more.
4.0 out of 5 starsAnother wonderful mix of history and fiction
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 17, 2020
I have said this for the previous three books,but it still stands true, Bernard's mix of historical events with fiction is marvellous. Although this book may have been more fiction than fact, it still held the integrity and believability that these events could have happened as portrayed. This is just further testament to how well written these books are, and how inviting Bernard's writing style is.
This book sees the kings daughter wed, beaten by her husband behind closed doors, and kidnapped, while our protagonist watches, fights to secure lundene as a wedding gift then have to go and rescue said daughter from the Danes, all while following Alfred's orders.
Book 5 awaits me, and I will dive into that very soon, and those after it.
I am re-reading these novels as I have a poor memory, and having thoroughly enjoyed reading up to Sword Song in the past, I thought I'd skip through books 1-4 before embarking on book 5. I am flabbergasted at how much I have enjoyed my re-reading of this magnificent tale, a fiction based in a history, a saga of epic proportions. At this exact moment in time, I am supposed to be finishing my vat return ready for the accountant tomorrow, but she is just going to have to wait. I am about to buy book 5, and spend the whole night reading on. Put tomorrow on hold, this chick is throwing a sicky.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 17, 2020
A great story. I have read it’s three predecessors and they are all great. This author is a wonderful writer - a terrific imagination and splendid use of the English language, of which he has a solid grasp. His research is beyond excellent and his knowledge (and fictional inventions) of the history of a period so instrumental in the unifying of what is now England, is exceptional. His characters, fictional and historical, are very well drawn and thoroughly engaging, keeping the reader interested in their lives and actions . His prose fairly rips along at a terrific rate, even making the battle scenes gripping (which I do not normally care for). Thoroughly enjoyed and recommended!!
5.0 out of 5 starsCompelling, addictive, intelligent blood and guts swashbuckling historical adventure
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 27, 2016
I read book 1 - 8 of the Last Kingdom series back to back as if they were one omnibus through a wet and miserable January. I had seen the BBC 2 series which covered book 1 and book 2 and found The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman such good reads I was glad that I had not read them before seeing the series. I was impressed by the explanations of the internal struggle Uhtred has to establish his identity,, and the uniqueness into which he forges his experiences , philosophy and education into the warrior and man he grows into. I was also impressed by the historical integrity Conwell brought to the background of Uhtred's adventures. Definite page turners all the way through. Loved every minute spent reading 1-8. Although one should not bring 21st century thinking, morals and mores to 10th century life, one could not help thinking that 'everything changes and nothing changes.' Cornwell does encourage the reader to stop and think beyond the swashbuckling thoughout. I am not sure whether Uhtred's forewords are a good or bad thing - whether they telegraph the ultimate outcome of the scrapes and adventures or whether they enhance the enjoyment of the finer points of the tale... I was disappointed at the Kindle price of book 9- Warriors of the Storm, which at the present time is more than the hardback edition. Although I am hooked enough to want to read it very badly, principle prevents me following on at this time.
4.0 out of 5 starsA good story woven through Alfred's fight for Wessex
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 18, 2016
I really enjoyed reading this story about Uhtred's personal battles to forge a good life amongst the pious Christian Saxons. As he has sworn an oath he is for extortion fight, against the Viking Northmen he admires. Bernard Cornwell tells a great story, you are totally immersed in this perilous time. It can stand alone as a story but it is the fourth in a series and it would make more sense if you start at the beginning. I have only given 4 stars as I found the jump in chronology from book 3 to 4 a bit perplexing. The book would also benefit from a who's who.