Review of The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

This is the story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane.

He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.

Review:

I decided to read this book because I watched the Netflix series three times. Then I joined a Facebook fan group and people talked about how good the books were. So I decided to try the series. The first book pretty much captures the first season. While there are some variations that don’t exactly match the TV series, the book and the heart of the story (and characters) are the same. What I enjoyed about the book was how well the author developed the main character.

He was easy to relate to and the content moved at a fast enough pace that it held my attention. Since I watched the show before I read the books I prefer the television adaptation, however, I plan to read the rest of the books in the series because I love reading history and the author is able to transport me to the era by his vivid description of the times. I would definitely recommend this book for people who love European history and battle scenes.

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