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The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom (2004)

by Bernard Cornwell

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2,257732,842 (3.96)86
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  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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Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
A strong introduction into Cornwell's Viking series, where the Saxon kingdoms of Britain are at the mercy of a growing Viking onslaught. The main character ('Uhtred') smacks of past Cornwell character Derfel Cadarn, yet is unique in his complexity and willingness to be mischievous.

A unique and thoroughly detailed fiction in a dark period of Western history. ( )
  bdtrump | May 9, 2015 |
The Last Kingdom is an amazing story telling the tales of ancient England being plighted by the Danes, otherwise known as the Vikings. The storyline is brilliant and remarkably told, with truth mixed in with artistic licence. The language used i fresh and full, mixing description with feeling and speech really well.
My own personal feeling on this is that it should not have been written in first person, although I have a personal biased against that kind of narrative telling. The reasons for this feeling is that the story in first person is very often either very thin because of the narrative techniques when using first person (i.e. third person would be omniscent, to whit a lot more story can be given because of such a wide variety of ability in getting characters perspectives etc). Despite this, the story was well told with only a few minor aspects of the first person narrative making it seem a little forced (an example being the narrator knowing such things that you'd think they couldn't and only an omniscent narrator could).
The plot and storyline were invaluable and the characters were fiercely likable in most cases, and enjoyably dislikable in others, also being believable for the time and setting. The Historical content was also amazing, the place names and information given was a great insight to a period of England's life that is little talked about.
The only reason this book has not been given 5-stars is because of my own personal preference for a third person narrative, that is all. ( )
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
This is a historical novel set in Britain in 871 to 899. The protagonist is a 10 year old boy who is born a Saxon but taken hostage and raised as a son of a Dane. It is a coming of age story. A war story and an adventure story. Alfred the Great is King and this story features battles between the invading Danes and the Saxons. It covers the pagan religions of the Danes, the Saxons as well as the Catholic religion. By telling the story through Uhtred, the 10 y/o taken hostage the reader gets to see the war and battles from the eyes of the Danes and from the Saxons as well, when Uhtred finds himself back with the Saxons. It also is very descriptive of how a shield war was fought. This would be a great boys story but it does contain violence, sexual content though not too graphic but there is rape and sexual elements so parents need to consider that. The reader was very good and it was an enjoyable read and listen.

. ( )
  Kristelh | Mar 13, 2015 |
I confess to knowing nothing whatsoever about this period in Britian’s history so I have no idea how accurate the historical details are, although Cornwell does say something with regard to that in the afterward.

The action takes place when the Danes were overrunning England and had captured essentially most of it with the exception of West Sussex where Alfred, to be called Alfred the Great, is keeping them at bay.

The tale is told by a young man whose family is killed in a Danish attack. The boy attempts to kill one of the Danish leaders, Ragnar, and is subsequently adopted by the same fellow. He finds the young boy’s spirit that of a Dane and a Viking, and so the boy grows up as a Dane, learning how they fight, how they believe and how they think. He still dreams of his home though, and secretly wants the Danes out and the English to regain their homeland.

The story follows the boy’s life up until he is grown and finds himself torn between the two worlds.

Intriguing character development and interesting to me as I knew nothing about the Vikings nearly conquering England. ( )
  majkia | Mar 4, 2015 |
Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible.

I decided I should listen to a Bernard Cornwell series as an attempt to gain a better understanding of the non-romantic, battle-based side of historical fiction. I knew I liked Cornwell as I’d randomly read a couple of his novels, and I picked this Saxon series because I find that whole period of history fascinating—I’ve read Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, and 1066 and all that make much more sense seen in the light of what went before, so I was ready to have the period rendered into living color by Cornwell.

And colorful it is. This is the story of the time when the Danes, or Vikings as they’re called when in raiding mode, are getting serious about plundering and occupying as much of the British Isles as possible, to the dismay of the various tribes that had settled in after the Roman period—Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Picts, Britons and others usually represented by big colored splashes and arrows on the history maps. Interestingly—and Cornwell demonstrates this rather nicely—those tribes had been pagans, but had been converted to Christianity by monks from the European mainland some time in the 600s, so what we now have is the Christian English fighting against the pagan Danes, with a few English holdouts for the old gods.

Given this patchwork of origins and allegiances, it would hardly be surprising if the real picture wasn’t that of every man for himself. Cornwell embodies this concept in Uhtred, son of Uhtred, who begins the novel as a child, a younger son named Osbert. The day his brother’s killed by the Danes, his father tells him “your name is now Uhtred” and he inherits a lordship he doesn’t get a chance to enjoy, since he’s taken prisoner by the Danes.

Uhtred survives, always a good idea when you’re the series’ main character, and grows up more Danish than English. It’s tremendously useful, when you’re telling a story about two opposing forces, to have a character who can move easily between those forces, and Uhtred is a marvelous invention, able to become English or Danish at will. He becomes reluctantly entangled with King Alfred, the king of Wessex—the last kingdom left to fight against the Danes—but at heart his real interests are his own interests, namely to get his Northumbrian fiefdom of Bebbanburg back from his uncle.

Uhtred’s a canny warrior, but he’s easily outmaneuvered by the cunning Alfred, whom Uhtred despises for his piety but who constantly manages to either outflank him or win his help by doing something stupidly brave in the name of kingship. It’s very clever of Cornwell to write this story from the viewpoint of this straightforward fighter, who has plenty of battlefield intelligence but little subtlety.

Absolutely NO romance in this novel (even when Uhtred’s with a woman) although there’s a certain level of warrior bromance of the name-calling and hitting-each-other sort. Fights are described with glee, because Uhtred loves fighting, but descriptions of just about everything else only happen when they have relevance to the fight, as in Uhtred might describe a bright, clear day not because it’s pretty but because it allows him to see the enemy well. It’s a masterful example of keeping the point of view tight. Being Cornwell, the novel moves along at a cracking pace, and in fact I was shocked to discover it was over when the audiobook ended (after Outlander and Game of Thrones, any audiobook that doesn’t run into 30 or 40 hours seems REALLY short).

On to the next book! This series should keep me happy for a while, even though there’ll be gaps as I’ll have to wait for my credits to catch up. ( )
1 vote JaneSteen | Feb 1, 2015 |
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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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