The first installment of Bernard Cornwell’s bestselling series chronicling the epic saga of the making of England, “like Game of Thrones, but real” (The Observer, London)—the basis for The Last Kingdom, the hit BBC America television series.
This is the exciting—yet little known—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.
Bestseller Cornwell leaps back a millennium from his Richard Sharpe series to tell of the consolidation of England in the late ninth century and the role played by a young (fictional) warrior-in-training who's at the center of the war between Christian Englishmen and the pagan Danes. (Most of the other principal characters Ubba, Guthrum, Ivar the Boneless and the like are real historical figures.) Young Uhtred, who's English, falls under the control of Viking ber-warrior Ragnar the Fearless when the Dane wipes out Uhtred's Northumberland family. Cornwell liberally feeds readers history and nuggets of battle data and customs, with Uhtred's first-person wonderment spinning all into a colorful journey of (self-)discovery. In a series of episodes, Ragnar conquers three of England's four kingdoms. The juiciest segment has King Edmund of East Anglia rebuking the Viking pagans and demanding that they convert to Christianity if they intend to remain in England. After Edmund cites the example of St. Sebastian, the Danes oblige him by turning him into a latter-day Sebastian and sending him off to heaven. Uhtred's affection for Ragnar as a surrogate father grows, and he surpasses the conqueror's blood sons in valor. When father and adopted son arrive at the fourth and last kingdom, however, the Danes meet unexpected resistance and Uhtred faces personal and familial challenges, as well as a crisis of national allegiance. This is a solid adventure by a crackling good storyteller. will take special interest in the personal angle here. Four-city author tour.
Customer ReviewsSee All
We have lived in Germany 9 years in the recent past. We toured much of England in our adventures. We developed a great interest in the Middle Ages, before and after. Having always enjoyed Vikings we appreciated the great details and history. Thank you for the Wonderful adventures!
Den & Kathy Ryan
The Last Kingdom
This is the first in what i believe is a series of three books. I just finished this last night and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The Last Kingdom is an entertaining and well written book. I've actually already read the third book, 'Lords of the North' and while it was enjoyable, this one was definitely better.
The book that started it all
Bernard Cornwell’s masterpiece starts here.Uhtred’s story captivates and Cornwell’s writing brings the ninth and tenth century struggle between the Saxons and Danes alive like few authors can. It made me look deeper into my own Anglo-Scandinavian heritage. Cornwell tops the list of the great historical fiction writers.