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The Last Kingdom
By Bernard Cornwell

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The Last Kingdom

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The Last Kingdom
By Bernard Cornwell
Large Print Edition
Harper Large Print, 2005
An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 0-06-075933-X
Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by Herbert White - April 4, 2005

Young Uhtred was born into an aristocratic, Northumbria family. During a battle between the English and a group of Viking raiders, Uhtred's father is killed and he is kidnaped by the fierce Danish Chieftain, Earl Ragnar. Uhtred is raised as Ragnar's son, and he is well schooled in the ways of the Vikings. In this majestic coming-of-age story, which is set in the ninth-century, Uhtred must come to terms with his loyalty toward Ragnar and his identity as an Englishman. He must also come to term with the Christianity of his youth and the Paganism he grew to know during his upbringing with Ragnar.

As he grows into manhood, Uhtred finds that his future is inextricably connected to King Alfred, a man he despises and of whom he has little respect. Although more Dane by now than English, Uhtred is turned toward the English side by the betrayal and slaughter, by Danes, of a man that Uhtred respected. Uhtred finds that he is further tied to the English cause by his marriage to Brida, an English girl with whom he begins a family. The fates decree that Uhtred's happiness is to be short lived. During a devastating Viking attack, Uhtred's wife and child disappear. This event forces him to finally choose where his true loyalties lie - with the English or with or with the Danes.

The Last Kingdom is a rousing, action-packed story with numerous battle scenes, betrayal, intrigue, a little sex, some humor, and a wealth of historical tidbits that liberally season this toothsome tale. Written by Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom is an epic adventure story full of detailed and graphic descriptions of ninth-century life. The characters are life-like and true to character, and the plot is wonderfully believable. Most important, like all of Cornwell's books, The Last Kingdom has been well researched and it is finely written.

Built around the history of King Alfred the Great and the long term battle fought between the English and the Viking raiders. The Danes pillaged along the English coast for most of the ninth and tenth centuries, and they conquered, and settled, a large swatch of England. The Last Kingdom provides a fascinating glimpse into this tumultuous period of English history. I've long been a fan of Cornwell's Sharpe Novels, and I was not disappointed in this ninth-century offering!

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