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Summary

633AD. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, powerful, action-packed historical thriller about vengeance and coming of age. The Bernicia Chronicles are perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Beobrand is compelled by his brother's almost-certain murder to embark on a quest for revenge in the war-ravaged kingdoms of Northumbria. The land is rife with danger, as warlords vie for supremacy and dominion. In the battles for control of the region, new oaths are made and broken, and loyalties are tested to the limits. With no patronage and no experience, Beobrand must form his own allegiances and learn to fight with sword and shield.

Relentless in pursuit of his enemies, he faces challenges which transform him from a boy to a man who stands strong in the clamour and gore of the shieldwall. As he closes in on his kin's slayer and the bodies pile up, can Beobrand mete out the vengeance he craves without sacrificing his honour...or even his soul?

©2016 Matthew Harffy (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Almost a Prequel To Cornwell's King Alfred Books.

What did you like most about The Serpent Sword?

I think people may expect a lesser copy of Bernard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom series, thankfully that isn't the case. For a start the books are set a couple of hundred of years before the events in Cornwell's books. The history of Dark Ages Northumbria is really interesting and a time that I know little about, Matthew Harffy builds a dirty, cold and cruel world, well. Plenty of fast paced action scenes, political skullduggery and a hero you can root for.

Who was your favorite character and why?

A great lead character in Beobrand. A young man on a very real hero's journey. Over the course of the book he goes from being a young innocent searching for his last living family member, to a warrior who's survived several battles and seen the evil that men do.

What does Barnaby Edwards bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A good narration. A large cast and they all seemed to stand out.

Any additional comments?

I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this book. The enticing £2.99 price is what drew me in. I'm glad that I took the chance, its a really good listen. A great lead character, thrilling battles, and a few story strands that aren't tied up completely, enough to make you want to delve into the world of Bernicia some more! A good start to a series. I've already purchased the second book for a holiday read on my Kindle.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent

Excellent performance, great characters, very much in the essence of the saxon chronicles. Looking forward to the next one which is already downloaded

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Best Audiobook I have read to date,

If you could sum up The Serpent Sword in three words, what would they be?

Gripping, Battles, Emotion

Who was your favorite character and why?

Beobrand ofcourse, the main protagonist who defeats his enemies with the power of youth and determination after the loss of his loved ones. A great character to follow.

Have you listened to any of Barnaby Edwards’s other performances? How does this one compare?

First performance I have heard from Barnaby Edwards but his performance is fantastic.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I listened to it over 3 days at work! =)

Any additional comments?

Fantastic read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Real Bone-Cracking Skin-Splitter of a Book!

Over Christmas I fancied the audiobook equivalent of a box set, a bit of a binge and after some deliberation settled on this gem of a series from Matthew Harffy. I’ve gone through all three of the books available on Audible at the time of writing and by golly this is a good one. I see it has been compared to Cornwell’s Dark Ages adventures and the similarity is certainly there. Both authors describe a world where life is frighteningly cheap for the majority. The upper strata of society is held together by an almost primeval belief in Gods and oaths all backed up with the bloody effectiveness of the warrior class and haunted by superstition. I wouldn’t say that Harffy goes for quite the level of sophistication and depth that Cornwell does but to me that’s not an issue. There are strong Lords and Kings, vicious battles, much drinking and feasting, strong women weaving their own intrigues and heroic speeches and feuds galore. It’s a glorious adventure but our hero Beobrand never has it easy.

Harffy doesn’t spare his characters hardship or misadventure. You will see characters you thought would last fall both in battle and to the evil desires of Beobrand’s enemies. It’s a tale of a young man’s struggles as a warrior and we get straight into it. There is no coming of age tale here! That’s history by the time the first book starts as he stumbles through his first bitter experience of the shield wall. With the excellent narration from Barnaby Edwards the atmosphere and harsh character of the period is conjured in thrilling fashion. Maybe Edwards doesn’t quite have the booming tones of a Brian Blessed so he can’t do some of the great warriors and kings full justice but few do and with his variety of voices he gives each protagonist nuance and character.

This looks like being an ongoing series and I can certainly confirm that for the three books so far published on Audible the quality is kept up throughout. I don’t often listen to books in a series back to back but this turned out to be the perfect choice for me. From the author’s website there is clearly more to come! Bring it on!

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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loved it, just got the next two books.

a good story well told and presently narrated, I'm totally hooked on finding out what's next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Dark Ages enlightened

A regal story with intrigue, great characters and action.

Take the long way home to listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Bloody & Brilliant

If you could sum up The Serpent Sword in three words, what would they be?

Bloody, Emotional, Gritty

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Serpent Sword?

The main scene for me is when Beo learns the men he is travelling with aren't nice men at. Emotional charged and something not easy to forget once you've read it.

What does Barnaby Edwards bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Grittiness, his voice suits the tone of the story perfectly

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, I guess you could but I prefer to split the tale in the chunks so I can reflect before moving on

Any additional comments?

Bloody Brilliant!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Handsome hero, ugly villain, pretty wenches

Against a 'historical ' background that brings the usual slaughter, bloodshed and heroic combat a tale of vengeance and coming of age.
Fairly predictable plot line and the usual 'noble' hero and dastardly villain mixed in with a few pretty wenches. All a little stereotypical really.
The author has done his research and all is set amid a sound social history of the time.
All said, an enjoyable romp and it is quite likely I will follow the series for at least another episode, when in the mood for a non-taxing listen.

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Magic<br />

looking toward to the next book. the story keeps moving on. An earlier part of the dark ages. The explanation of the age may have been better at the beginning to explain the context of the story.

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Excellent. Gripping.

I would recommend to any fan of Bernard Cornwells Saxon stories. Bring Me More please!

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  • John
  • 17-02-17

Fantastic!

If you could sum up The Serpent Sword in three words, what would they be?

Taking up this book based on the comment about it being a good one for Bernard Cornwell fans, of which I am a huge fan, it started a bit slow. But I stayed with it and was rewarded by a gripping tale every bit as worthy of the genre. The tale covers a wide array of emotional tides other than revenge and grief. Mr. Harfly weaves this tale well and makes it a hard book had to put down. I look forward to the next two books to see what happens to the boy who became a warrior, Beobrand.

Have you listened to any of Barnaby Edwards’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I've never listened to any of Mr. Edwards' narrations but I am now a fan. It is difficult to remember that all of those voices are being said by one narrator and not an entire company of actors.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Lisa Schilling
  • 12-04-17

Amazing story, needs a warning in the description.

I purchased this book thinking it would be an epic story of honorable warriors accomplishing great feats of power. That's pretty much what I got. But when the author would go into detail about rape scenes and the like, it was disgusting. I saw no such warnings in the description of the book as I was contemplating the purchase, at least nothing obvious. But aside from that, it was a great book full of satisfying revenge and violence (minus the aforementioned scenes). So if there was a warning in the description notifying potential customers of the TYPES and EXTENT of violence, this would be a 5/5 star rating all-round.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-03-18

very enjoyable

very good book, interesting characters and development and historical time period . I am now going to listen to the next 1.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • dave
  • 01-05-17

Not that great a story

Would you try another book from Matthew Harffy and/or Barnaby Edwards?

Dont think so. I found the story weak

Has The Serpent Sword turned you off from other books in this genre?

No i enjoy this genre

Have you listened to any of Barnaby Edwards’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Did The Serpent Sword inspire you to do anything?

Certainly not to buy the 2nd book

Any additional comments?

Very weak and predictable story. Hero gets everything right all the time

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Timothy
  • 09-02-17

PRE SERIES TO BERNARD CORNWELL'S SAXON TALES

Would you consider the audio edition of The Serpent Sword to be better than the print version?

DIDN'T READ BOOK.

Who was your favorite character and why?

MAIN CHARACTER BEOBRAND. LIKE THE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT OF WHAT MAKES A MAN A WARRIOR.

Have you listened to any of Barnaby Edwards’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

HAVE NOT.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

OF COURSE THE FINAL SCENE OF MEETING HIS BROTHER'S KILLER.

Any additional comments?

THIS BOOK FEELS LIKE IT IS WRITTEN BY BERNARD CORNWELL. GREAT BOOK AND READY FOR HIS NEXT ADVENTURE.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful