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The Serpent Sword

The Bernicia Chronicles, Book 1
Narrated by: Barnaby Edwards
Series: The Bernicia Chronicles, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

Non-member price: $29.65

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Publisher's 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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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

great reading of a very mediocre story.

basically sword porn with a weak plot, one-dimensional characters and no sense of development or impact.

great reading though. differentiates the voices of different characters and does a great job of keeping the pace and tone appropriate for each scene. will be searching for more barnaby edwards readings but not more matthew harffy novels.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Could have been written by Bernard cornwell

Great read. But reads so similarly to that of a Cornwell novel. Is this a bad thing? Maybe not

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Profile Image for John
  • John
  • 17-02-2017

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Lisa Schilling
  • 12-04-2017

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.

24 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeff T.
  • 21-09-2018

didn't care for it.

I wrote a really harsh review at at first however that's not fair. I feel that this story has been played out way too many times and then this is just another version of it it might be good for somebody I just didn't care for it

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • dave
  • 01-05-2017

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

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Evangelina D
  • 12-10-2019

wonderful story

loved it! richly detailed characters very well written. Go Beobrand! on to the next book.

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  • THRBrun
  • 04-09-2019

A wonderful tale, richly told

Matthew Harffy has been on my radar for ages but it’s taken me this long to dive into his Bernica Chronicles. What a fool to deny myself the pleasure for so long! A truly wonderful tale. The world-building is masterful. The characterisation, the twists in the plot, the interweaving of the shards of historical light available to the author in this dark period of Britain’s history. Beobrand is a fantastic protagonist and his coming of age in this first volume is beautifully constructed. I think what I enjoyed the most was the writing itself though. The language Harffy uses seems to echo the tones of Anglo-Saxon in our native tongue. It all seemed very realistic and true to what life must have been like. Really impressive stuff if this was his debut. I can only imagine how good the later volumes prove. I certainly intend to find out!

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  • Vicente Cabrera
  • 24-07-2019

Great story

Can’t wait to listen to the others....This story was very intriguing. I never lost track of who was who and where was where. Very easy to listen to and follow. The narration is quite comforting. Gave personality to characters according to their roles. I enjoyed it very much. I did get a sense of Bernard C’s Last Kingdom.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • GGO
  • 10-07-2019

Well Written!

This was my first read from this author and I found myself searching for more books from him upon immediately finishing this audiobook. Briefly, there is plenty of action with an entertaining storyline. Well worth the audio experience which was enhanced by the narrator. I hope the saga continues.

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  • Casey Hokenson
  • 26-05-2019

Great Book

Interesting listening to different authors tell tales from the same era. I realy enjoyed this book, looking forward to the nextnin the series.

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  • SDBruck
  • 05-04-2019

Good for the most part

Good storyline- would have given 5 stars had there not been what seemed to be a random roaming part with the outlaw warriors with little purpose or direction other than brutal, savage encounters then back to where they started when the main character joined them. Other than that, good tale.

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  • Farniboy
  • 11-04-2017

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan
  • 05-03-2017

Excellent

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

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • LewisMoorhead
  • 21-12-2016

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian Minter
  • 04-06-2018

Narrator

I enjoyed the story very much. Authors move things around with impunity and this is ok, if you are interested you would look for the facts yourself which I have done and it does not diminish the book.
With audio you are listening to a voice that is being used to give us something extra to the book, with this book I did not have extra compared to some books I have listened to. To explain I would invite you to listed to The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell . It is the best book I have listened to, but it does not make it a better story. The narrator almost puts a face to the minds eye or topography as well as a map.
I will listen to more of these books, I did enjoy it. Thank you.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 27-12-2017

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!

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris Mitu
  • 27-11-2018

Entertaining enough but predictable

I enjoyed listening to it and was really looking forward to a prequel to Bernard Cornwell's Last Kingdom series but unfortunately this isn't it. The time and places are interesting from a historical point of view.
Unfortunately the story is very predictable. The author spends too much time recapping the feelings and worries of the main character to the point where you start to wonder if he is describing the mind of a 21st century teenager rather than those of a 6th century young warrior.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Robyn
  • 24-04-2018

Brutal but engaging

Set in a time when life was cheap and brutal, and allegiances somewhat fluid. Battle is bloody and frequent.

The lead characters are engaging, and likeable, and the narration is perfectly suited to the story. Enough hooks to keep me wondering about what is to come.I will be downloading the rest of the series in the hope that the quality standard is maintained.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Uthred
  • 02-05-2017

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Toby
  • 24-03-2017

Dark Ages enlightened

A regal story with intrigue, great characters and action.

Take the long way home to listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David Baird
  • 03-02-2017

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!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful