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Author Bernard Cornwell adds to his epic saga that inspired a popular Netflix series

Author Bernard Cornwell adds to his epic saga that inspired a popular Netflix series
March 2020

"Sword of Kings" is latest installment in journey of Lord Uhtred





(Left) In Sword of Kings (HarperCollins, November 2019); (Right) Bernard Cornwell has written more than 58 books, some from the study in his downtown Charleston home.

In Sword of Kings (HarperCollins, November 2019), Charleston-based novelist Bernard Cornwell’s 12th installment of his enormously popular “Saxon Tales” series, readers are transported back in time to the gritty and contentious environs of the British Isles in the early Middle Ages, where they follow the epic journey of Lord Uhtred and his role in the genesis of the nation of England. It’s an achievement the prolific Cornwell pledges his hero will live to witness, despite the many battles he must fight along the way.

Engrossing from the very first line, Cornwell’s depiction of a strife-ridden realm where man’s best friend is his sword (the weapons have names and viable characters of their own) promises a riveting escape into a plausible historical reconstruction of the consolidation of power and political alliances that gave rise to contemporary England.

...a riveting escape into a plausible historical reconstruction of the consolidation of power and political alliances that gave rise to contemporary England

The novel chronicles the conflicted means by which Lord Uhtred, a nobleman of Northumbria, negotiates two competing imperatives that he views as fundamentally irreconcilable: his oath to defend the rightful successor to the throne of a dying king and his desire to preserve his own life. A stalwart pagan in an increasingly Christian part of the world, Uhtred nevertheless adheres to a moral code that subordinates the entitlements of social position and economic prosperity in favor of the preservation of personal integrity. “We might be born to wealth, to land, to success, and I had been given all those things, but when we die, we go to the afterlife with nothing except reputation, and a man without honor has no reputation. I would keep my oath,” Uhtred declares.

Established fans of Lord Uhtred will be thrilled by this latest narrative of his bold exploits. Newer fans enticed by the popular Netflix saga The Last King, based on the novels, will be easily drawn into this rendition of the medieval world. Even those who would not style themselves devotees of historical fiction will be pleasantly surprised by how readily, and inextricably, they become drawn into Uhtred’s tumultuous adventures. Sword of Kings adds impressively to the reputation and legacy of Uhtred, Lord of Bebbanburg.

Read our 2017 profile of Cornwell 

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Photographs courtesy of (Book) HarperCollins Publishers