The Last Kingdom

by Bernard Cornwell
Category: "Fiction - Historical"
Year of Publication:2005
Date Added:08/21/2006
Date Read:08/21/2006
Notes:A saga of blood, rage, fidelity and betrayal that brings to center stage King Alred the Great, one of the most crucial figures in English history. It is King Alfred and his heirs who, in the ninth and tenth centureis, with their backs against the wall, fought to secure the survival of the last outpost of Anglo-Saxon culture by battling the ferocious Vikings, whose invading warriors had already captured and occupied three of England's four kingdoms.
My Rating: 6

Reviews for The Last Kingdom

Review - Last Kingdom, The

Alfred the Great, King of Wessex on the south coast of England, is the last holdout against the Danes. The northernmost kingdom, Northumbria, was conquered in part by the warrior Ragnar. When a young Northumbrian lad, Uhtred tries to kill Ragnar, he is amused and adopts the boy. Uhtred grows up in Ragnar’s family, being taught the Viking way of war and life. But somehow his heart remains with England.

When Ragnar is killed, Uhtred travels south with his young female companion Brida. Because Uhtred is the heir to a large Northumbrian estate, Alfred makes him a captain of a ship and marries him to Mildreth, an orphan girl with land of her own. To Uhtred’s surprise, he and Mildreth fall in love and have a son. But meanwhile, the Vikings have attacked Wessex. When the campaign stalls, a truce is formed and Uhtred is given as one of the hostages. A Viking chief tries to kill him, but he is saved and released by Ragnar, son of Uhtred’s adopted father. Brida stays with Ragnar and becomes his woman.

Mildreth is kidnapped by her cousin who wants her for his own. Uhtred takes off with his ship’s crew to find her. Instead, they find themselves besieged in a fortress by the Viking army of Ubba, a fierce warrior. Uhtred comes up with a battle plan, sneaks off to set fire to the Vikings’ ships and helps trap the invading army and slaughter them, killing Ubba himself. He recovers Mildreth and sets off to find Alfred.

Interesting enough, but I never quite believed it. It was more like reading about a group of re-enactors than real history and real people. Cornwell has Uhtred take a lot of shots a Christianity, but I got the feeling it’s just what he thinks a boy raised by Vikings would do.

Review - Last Kingdom, The

This book is the first in a series about King Alfred and his heirs who fought off the Vikings. The main character is the fictional Uhtred, a Northumbrian who was captured and raised by the Viking warrior Ragnar. When Ragnar is killed, Uhtred travels south and joins the forces of Alfred fighting to preserve the last remaining kingdom on the island.

It's a typical Cornwell novel, with a lot of descriptions of fighting and bloodshed. But somehow it didn't ring true. I never lost myself in the action or characters but instead had the feeling I was reading about historical re-enactors — somewhat like the real thing but not quite authentic.
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