I Absolutely Adored This Book
There are very few books that I can say truly impacted and resonated with me to the degree that “The Last Kingdom”, and indeed the entire “The Saxon Stories” have, and there are few authors like Bernard Cornwell that I find unforgettable in terms of their narrative style, writing gravitas, pacing, ability to excite and intrigue, and all the other qualities you look for when you think of the perfect writer.
“The Last Kingdom” is not perfect because no book can be considered perfect. Reading preferences are subjective – like most of life. That being said, other than “The Return of the King”, there is no book I have re-read more times, because I enjoy it so much. Uthred’s story, a Saxon-born earl, disinherited, forced to live among Danes, and be raised as a Dane, is the greatest historical fiction account I’ve ever read.
Cornwell’s straightforward yet eloquent prose, the peerless battle scenes, the amazing secondary characters such as the Ragnars and Brida, villains like the Kjartans and Aelfric, and of course, looming larger than all, Alfred the Great, one of Britain’s (real) most famous kings, if not THE most famous, all make this book astoundingly brilliant. But the protagonist is what makes this series work, and why it is so overwhelmingly popular. They made the book series into a successful Netflix series because Uthred is a household name now, one of the best fictional characters ever written, and you’ll see why when you read “The Saxon Stories”.
This first novel in the series is a coming-of-age tale. We see Uthred evolve from young noble, to orphan among the Danes, to conflicted young warrior, whose identity crisis of “Saxon versus Dane” shapes his life, and eventually the whole fate of the future England, as he later becomes Alfred’s greatest warlord as the series progresses.
I absolutely adored this book, and can’t find enough superlatives about Cornwell. Cornwell should consistently be mentioned along with Ken Follett one of the best authors ever of historical fiction, or any other genre.
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