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Summary

634AD. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and second instalment in the Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Warlords battle across Britain to become the first king of the English. After a stunning victory against the native Waelisc, Beobrand returns a hero. His valour is rewarded with wealth and land by Oswald, king of Northumbria. He retires to his new estate with his bride only to find himself surrounded by enemies old and new.

With treachery and death on all sides, Beobrand fears he will lose all he holds dear. On a quest for revenge and redemption, he accepts the mantle of lord, leading his men into the darkest of nights and the bloodiest of battles.

©2016 Matthew Harffy (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about The Cross and the Curse

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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will not be reading the next in

3/4s of the book could have been written by Barbara Cartland or any similar bodice ripper scribbler!
Beobrand has turned into a 'Knight in shining armour' stereotype with flowery language and various damsels in distress.
The battle scenes are almost ok but lack any depth.
Disappointed!

2 people found this helpful

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Great listen!

Longtime friends and followers of mine might know that I endorsed Harffy’s debut novel, The Serpent Sword. That was a self-published affair which garnered enough interest and sales that Matthew was taken on by a major publisher, Aria, and this is the resultant sequel.

The tale is quite straightforward with love, action and beautifully written prose aplenty and, combined with a really good narrator, makes for a great listen. It gets especially nasty (in a good way!) about two-thirds in and things really start to come together there.

I felt a little as if this was a bridge between the first book and the next, setting things up for what’s to come for the rest of the series. That’s no bad thing and there is enough to keep your interest up throughout although I did miss a bit of humour. The events are dark and gritty and the characters know it – but it would have been nice to have a bit of childish banter between the men just to lighten things. As it is, the word I kept thinking of as I listened was “earnest”. The dialogue is earnest, the characters are earnest and the prose is too. I was wishing someone would fart or stand in a dog turd but sadly there’s no slapstick silliness here!

This series has been compared to Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred stories (by me, actually, in that previously-mentioned endorsement!) but, although settings and time period are similar, the writing is completely different in The Cross and the Curse. Fans of one author will enjoy the other I’m sure, as both are absolutely brilliant.

Steven A. McKay, author of the Forest Lord series

2 people found this helpful

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A Series Developing Substance and Momentum

The second of Matthew Harffy’s excellent Bernicia Chronicles and may there be plenty more to come. Having proved himself as a warrior it might seem as if he’s in for a restful time but with kingdoms at stake and old enemies still lurking Beobrand is put to the test in almost every way imaginable. With his rise through the ranks comes greater riches, power and responsibility. As with the series opener this is another fast moving historical fiction with plenty of action. The Mead Halls are brimming with intrigue and there is a climactic encounter with an old enemy . . . though if Beobrand thinks that is the end of his difficulties in that regard he is sorely mistaken.

The superstitious nature of the times gets a good outing and Beobrand has to deal with some rather noisy neighbours. The church comes more to the fore with the author’s license being used to the full on some real historical characters.

In all it’s a fine continuation of the series and if like me you really liked the first one it seems it’s good news because there is plenty more to come!

6 people found this helpful

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One up from fan fiction

They’re not Bernard Cornwell level and the heroes dialogue would make the Mighty Thor blush but I’ve read worse.

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boring and frustrating

I really wanted to like this book, since I enjoy the setting and wish there was more fiction set around this time, but I just found it incredibly exhausting. The characters are flat, the women seem to exist only to be raped and murdered, and Beobrand lacks any shred of humour, kindness, or tenderness that would make him endearing. I'm not sure why I should care about this man who does nothing but murder and hate people. I won't be contributing this series.

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2nd and last Harffy book

historical link interesting but story predictable and draw out....
each of the key points painfully told.

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Getting a bit emotionally heavy for an action book

I am enjoying the series but this book was a bit difficult due to follow as the main character spends half his time with huge doubts about everything he does or spends chapters grieving over lost loves or makes ridiculous decisions and offends people who bizarrely forgive him.

Just hope book three gets better.

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Great Second Instalment

Great story, impressive, if a flawed hero, Great characters. Enjoyed the exploration of Saxon belief in their gods, emerging Christianity and the importance of oath taking threaded through the tale.

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Good sequel

There are many trials and tribulations waiting for the hero in this sequel to the Serpent Sword. Not as dazzling as the first book but a good solid follow on. Good performance from Edwards as well, although he needs to do some work in his female voices.

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Great to read

The book is very good Once you start reading it you can't putt it down Great story

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  • Pete
  • 29-03-20

good little historical fiction

after reading Bernard Cornwells Sexson series thought I would give another similar series a try. This one though not as good as Cornwell, in my opinion, is still a good read. Author grabs real events and spins his fictional characters in them. heading to book 3 now!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Darth Vinny
  • 31-07-19

Wonderful fulfilling story

So far the Bernicia chronicles and Barbary Edwards have not disappointed !!! Great story filled with every kind of emotion you can expect! Along with that emotion barnaby brings life and personality to each and every character as an individual. Very excited for the rest of the story!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • C Harlow
  • 14-05-17

not as good as the first but not bad

Book dragged on didnt really ever keep me as intrested as most book in this genre but will listen to the next one.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-04-21

Unfortunately miserable and predictable

Unfortunately miserable and predictable. Just when you become hopeful that there may be a turn story the same simple theme continues. Love the genre but this story falls short of holding one's attention.

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  • Dr. John W. Lott
  • 23-01-21

Great novel

It is a pleasure to continue reading this story of a young man’s journey through these tough times.

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  • paul goldberg
  • 10-03-20

A good story with weakness in dialogue

Harffy tell a good narration. He weaves a good story capturing scenery, decent character development, and a quick moving narrative. It’s a bloody unruly time. Dialogue is at times trite and the story at times is too predictable but overall, worth the listen if you enjoy historical fiction set in this time period.

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  • Linda Morse
  • 29-01-17

Could not stop until the end! Fantastic!

If you could sum up The Cross and the Curse in three words, what would they be?

Riveting, Gripping , Engrossing!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Beobrand, such a great warrior!

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

Yes, The Serpent and Sword, he is awesome! A phenomenal narrator!

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

Yes! And I did listen in one sitting, it was that great!

Any additional comments?

Matthew Harffy is the next Bernard Cornwell, no doubt! Please have Barnaby Edwards perform all your novel narrations!

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  • Edward
  • 01-07-17

A Struggle

Any additional comments?

This was a struggle to read since the main character, Beobrand, becomes unlikable. That is going to be hard to change for the 3rd book. Overall not a bad story, somewhat predicable.. but I have never been fond of characters that have anger issues and fly off into a rage and hurt people without thinking or make situations worse for all those around just because they can't stop and think for 10 seconds... right now, at the end of book 2, I would have no issues if someone took Beobrand out.

1 person found this helpful

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  • fun times
  • 24-02-18

constant self pitty

very poor book. Book one was good book 2 spent way to much time focusing on self pitty and loss. I about quit listening at chapter 27 I think but I suffered through. The narrator does a great job but I wont listen to book 3 because 2 was so poorly written.

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  • FuzzyLogicRiceCooker
  • 08-03-17

great book !!!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Cross and the Curse to be better than the print version?

The unabridged audio book version allows me to read while doing other things.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Cross and the Curse?

The warrior ethic was interesting in various scenes. The strong sense of honor and loyalty impressed me.

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

He is a good reader and makes you enjoy the performance.

If you could rename The Cross and the Curse, what would you call it?

I would not rename it --- the title is fine as the author chose it.

Any additional comments?

would recommend the Book series---this is Book 2