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Publisher's Summary

The ninth installment in the New York Times best-selling Saxon Tales, the epic saga of the making of England, magnificently brought to life by "the reigning king of historical fiction" (USA Today).

A fragile peace reigns in Wessex, Mercia, and East Anglia. King Alfred's son, Edward, and formidable daughter, Aethelflaed, rule the kingdoms. But all around, the restless Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches, are mounting raids.

Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the kingdoms' greatest warrior, controls Northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces are gathering against him. Northmen allied to the Irish, led by the fierce warrior Ragnall Ivarson, are soon joined by the Northumbrians, and their strength could prove overwhelming. Despite the gathering threat, both Edward and Aethelflaed are reluctant to move out of the safety of their fortifications. But with Uhtred's own daughter married to Ivarson's brother, who can be trusted?

In the struggle between family and loyalty, between personal ambition and political commitment, there will be no easy path. But a man with a warrior's courage may be able to find it. Such a man is Uhtred, and this may be his finest hour.

©2016 Bernard Cornwell (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Story
  • NW
  • 01-19-16

Cornwell gets still better!

Perhaps I simply listened to the book that proceeds this one in a more distracted state; I felt after that one this story had begun to get a little tired. It was still good but it did not transport me as consistently as most of this series has. This book is masterful. The story is interesting throughout. The writing has many bright points which draw the imagination completely in and project the scenes in vivid definition. There is less of the dull repetition of descriptions we have heard in the exact words more than once in each proceeding book. People and places are often described in artful details that I found nicely done. The narrator also fully won me over. I liked his interpretation of most characters. I like the pace and emotion. I found very little about his performance which I could imagine might be improved upon. This story draws to, in my opinion, a very satisfactory closing point which both raps up the episode it tells and whets out appetite for more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Gino
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 01-20-16

A good thing gone bad

The notion that you can just hire an actor and they read a book and its wonderful does not work when the book is in a long running series and the producers don't even indulge due diligence.

If the narrator read the book and marked it up and did lots of prep, I would not be surprised, he's good but he didn't listen to the earlier readings for audio continuity, for many of us that effort is moot. If this was a stand alone book it would be ok but it isn't

When primary characters, place names etc.. in a series have new pronounciations, something stinkingly arrogant has surfaced.

Perhaps I have taken the wrong party to the pillory. This could have easily been great, instead it is jarring and annoying and has intruded on my sense of disbelief and my enjoyment of this series. An expensive disapointment.

24 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Another great book in the series.

The only downside to this book is Matthew Bates didn't keep the same pronunciation in some of the proper names. otherwise I loved it!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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They keep getting better, awesome story.

Bernard is a master of painting vivid mental images while still keeping the action moving along. His series on Arthur 'The Winter King' and his other story 'The Archers Tale' are all very entertaining.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • FSX404
  • Southern California
  • 01-23-16

a slow start, but once it gets going...

I did find the start to this novel a bit slow, and tought that it might be a disappointment as far as Uhtred stories go. But about 2+ hrs into the story, the story got really good.

Its the Uhtred we all love

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Narrator is bad

Narrator bad at pronouncing names, kept on pronouncing Ragnar with gn sounding like gn in gnocchi

Annoying voice changes in the beginning

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Another excellent tale of Uhtred

A well spun tale of Uhtred and his struggles to subdue Northumbria. this is a fabulous series....

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Nice continuation!

Leads the listener along nicely. If you like the series, it's a must.....Do it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 01-28-16

Absorbing Historical Saga

This is the continuation of the adventures of Uhtred Lord of Bebbanburg (Saxon Series) about the founding of England. King Alfred is dead and his son King Edward is ruling Wessex. Uhtred is living in Mercia which is ruled by King Alfred’s daughter Lady Ethelflaed. I love her flag with a white goose on it. A Norse warlord has allied with an Irish king and is invading Mercia and Northumbria. Lady Ethelflaed and Uhtred are leading the fight against the invaders.

The book is not only about battles but also of political expediency, personal loyalties, and the confrontation between the early Christians and those worshipping the pagan gods. Cornwell is the absolute master of the battle scene. Cornwell provides lots of facts and ancient beliefs into his story, for example, the “ghost fence” which is bleached skulls on a rampart to become a fear-inspiring ghost fence. Cornwell is a fascinating story teller but what, in my opinion, makes his book unique is the meticulous research to make the story authentic. This series is about how the disparate kingdoms became England.

The last few books in the series have been narrated by Matt Bates. He has done a good job but I preferred an early narrator of the series John Lee.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Still hanging in there.

These later titles start slowly, almost disappointing, and then finish well. I'm getting used to Matt Bates's delivery as well. On to Number 10.

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