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The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom (2004)

by Bernard Cornwell

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2,500852,428 (3.97)95
  1. 30
    The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell (Donogh)
    Donogh: As you rooted for the British against the Saxons in Cornwell's 'The Winter King', so shall you root for the Saxons agains the Danes in Cornwell's 'The Last Kingdom'
  2. 20
    Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (mcenroeucsb)
  3. 00
    The Outlaw Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick (caimanjosh)
    caimanjosh: Elizabeth Chadwick strikes me as providing the female perspective on medieval England, while Bernard Cornwell provides a decidedly masculine perspective. Both authors succeed in writing highly entertaining historical fiction with a strong sense of the time period. If you like one, it's definitely worth trying the other.… (more)

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Engaging and well-researched fictional account of an English boy taken prisoner by the Danish Vikings and raised in their ranks. Uhtred, a young earl and hungry for adventure and glory, loves his new life with his Viking kidnappers. But destiny has other plans for Uhtred, and eventually he finds himself fighting for the English under King Alfred. "The Last Kingdom" references the fact that Alfred is king of Wessex, the last kingdom in England to hold against the Viking invaders. The book is the first in a series, and introduces the characters and landscape on the brink of a turning point in English history.

My issue with Bernard Cornwell books is that they relegate women to background roles, usually with little agency and few spoken lines. It's Cornwell's perogative to not have female narrators or main characters (maybe some of his books do, but not the ones I've read), but he just seems clueless as to women's roles and contributions in the different periods of history in which he writes. The character of Brida in this book was the exception to the rule, but even her character seemed two dimensional and that what was supposed to be good about her was that she acted like a man. Women are either whores or victims of rape, and the casual way he describes violence against them is disturbing. Yes, I know it was a "different time" back then, but don't tell me that rape was any less awful, or people experienced it differently. ( )
  Tess_Elizabeth | May 12, 2016 |
Honestly the whole Viking thing has never really interested me; horned helmets, nude berserkers, raping, pillaging etc, but having read Cornwell before and needing a historical fiction fix, I decided to take the plunge with The Last Kingdom, and it was amazing. Pure enjoyment!

Uhtred son of Uhtred, has this glorious, inclusive first person narration of his past, always drawing you into his story with little comments and ruminations about his thoughts and feelings on the happenings within the storyline. It was like sitting beside the hearth with an old friend, ale in hand, as he tells the story of his youth. I was so at ease with his gruff warriors voice, compelled to listen. I haven't been this captivated with a first person natrative in a very long time.

It was definitely filled with raping and pillaging, you can't get away from the history, but the reader is let into the Northman's world to see they aren't just brutal killers, they are human. They are husbands, fathers, likeable, funny and incredibly emotional.. And they never wore horned helmets! Praise Odin..

Sometimes, you just need to settle down to a good, well told yarn. You don't need to speculate or do mental gymnastics to try and piece the story together, it's just beautifully written, well thought out and the plot line is captivating enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. And hey, there's no need to worry too much about the future of the world, because you already know what happens!

I can't wait to settle back down with Uhtred, and listen to more of his Saxon's tale.. This review was originally posted on Book Frivolity ( )
  BookFrivolity | Apr 23, 2016 |
Summary: This first of the Saxon tales tells the story of the invasion of England by the Danes and the fierce resistance led by Alfred the Great, all through the eyes of a boy turned warrior who at different times fights first for the Danes, then for Alfred.

Uhtred, son of Uhtred, Earl of Bebbanburg witnesses the coming of the Danes, the death of his brother and father and is taken captive by Ragnar, who led the Danes in the victories resulting in these deaths. He loses Bebbanburg to a rival who bows to the Danes, and he himself is raised as Ragnar's more or less adopted son, learning from an early age the deadly arts of war, the fearsome thing known as the shield wall, and the strange joy of battle.

Uhtred matures as he witnesses one kingdom after another within England fall to the forces of the Danes. He repudiates the Christianity of the youth for the pagan warrior gods of the Danes. And the gods seem to favor them until they encounter Alfred, King of Wessex who is sufficiently successful to win a truce for a time. Uhtred and Brida, another captive, who becomes his lover and constant companion settle down in the beautiful country while they await the next attempt to defeat Alfred, little aware of the treachery of Kjartan, who is plotting against Ragnar, and indeed Uhtred himself. Uhtred and Brida alone escape a slaughter, which sends them to seek shelter, first with English relatives, and then in Alfred's court, to fight for Alfred against the Danes, and to harbor the hope of recovery Bebbanburg one day.

Cornwell not only captures the fearsome character of warfare at the shield wall, where it is kill or be killed, in brutal combat. He also captures the beauty of the land, which the Danes wished to gain and the Anglo-Saxons wished to hold. And he sketches a portrait of Alfred, who genuinely fears God yet struggles to rein in his lusts, who is tormented by intestinal disorders and hemorrhoids, and yet can inspire men to fight and resist and entertains a vision of not only holding Wessex, but of extending his rule throughout England, even in the face of the Danes.

In the concluding part of the book things come to a head as Uhtred must face those he once fought with, as he fights now under Alfred, and as a confrontation looms that could destroy the last kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons. Cornwell brings this history to life, and as he does so, helps us understand why this was fought-over land. While doing so, he draws characters, both real and fictional who evoke strong emotions of affection or disdain, but never "just another Dane or Saxon."

Having thoroughly enjoyed his Agincourt last fall and the first of these tales, I think I just might go on and read some more! ( )
  BobonBooks | Apr 10, 2016 |
I received a free copy of this book, upon completion of a survey, for my honest review.

I always enjoy reading a good historical fiction novel. I like that you learn something while reading and yet you did not have to read a boring, dry text book.

This is the first book I have read from Bernard Cornwell and it will not be my last. The Last Kingdom, is the story of Uhtred, the son of a Saxon lord who is killed by a host of invading Danes. Uhtred is captured, as a young boy, by Ragner a Danish war lord. Ragnar raises Uhtred as his son and teaches him the ways of the Danes.

Treachery among the Danes and Ragnar is killed. Uhtred now a young man, by fate or chance, rediscovers his English heritage. Now he must fight against the Danes.

The story is powerful and gritty. A tale not easily forgotten. ( )
  purpledog | Apr 1, 2016 |
Saxon by birth, Dane at heart, Uhtred—and Britain—Struggles for Survival

I must confess I owe my introduction to Bernard Cornwell, the writer, to Sean Bean's debonair performance as captain Richard Sharpe in the screen version of his Sharpe’s novels. And for that I will forever be in debt to Mr. Bean, because Bernard Cornwell's writing is a rare, most satisfying treat.

Uhtred, the protagonist of his on going saga The Saxon Tales, is again a young warrior. Strong, handsome, fearless, and impetuous, Uhtred is nevertheless a devoted friend and a passionate and faithful lover.

Saxon by birth, Dane at heart, he is like his country (Britain in the ninth century AD) torn between two peoples, two cultures, two gods.

Raised by Ragnar the warrior Dane who killed his family and destroyed his village when he was ten, Uhtred grows to love his adoptive father and his Viking ways. But, as Uhtred reminds us repeatedly, the three sisters under the Tree of life spin the threads that are our lives and the boy’s world is again turned upside down when his new family is also killed and he, left to wander in the warring landscape that was England at the time.

Circumstances force Uhtred to swear his alliance to Alfred, the only Saxon king still fighting the Danes. Bound to him by honor now, he must help this king he despises, even as he knows that Alfred’s victory will impose a religion and a new order that will eventually destroy the world he loves.

Action packed, and terribly amusing, this is historical fiction at his best.

( )
  CarmenFerreiro | Mar 28, 2016 |
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The Last Kingdom is for Judy, with love. Wyrd bið ful āræd.
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My name is Uhtred.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In the middle years of the ninth century, the fierce Danes stormed onto British soil, hungry for spoils and conquest. Kingdom after kingdom fell to the ruthless invaders until only one realm remained. Suddenly the fate of all England--and the course of history--depended upon one man, one king.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060887184, Paperback)

In the middle years of the ninth-century, the fierce Danes stormed onto British soil, hungry for spoils and conquest. Kingdom after kingdom fell to the ruthless invaders until but one realm remained. And suddenly the fate of all England—and the course of history—depended upon one man, one king.

From New York Times bestselling storyteller Bernard Cornwell comes a rousing epic adventure of courage, treachery, duty, devotion, majesty, love, and battle as seen through the eyes of a young warrior who straddled two worlds.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:07 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In the middle years of the ninth century, the fierce Danes stormed onto British soil, hungry for spoils and conquest. Kingdom after kingdom fell to the ruthless invaders until only one realm remained. Suddenly the fate of all England--and the course of history--depended upon one man, one king.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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