The Last Kingdom
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Sarah Broadhurst's view...
You may be familiar with Richard Sharpe from his many books or from the television series. But Cornwell is a prolific writer, he has written on the American Civil War, the Arthurian period, the Druids and even Regency romantic adventure. Now he tackles the Vikings and Alfred the Great. Through a fictional observer, Uhtred, we manage to follow all the major events during a twenty year period. Ingeniously, as the lad is tossed from one side to the other, the contrast of the lifestyles and conflicting beliefs of the two sides are beautifully drawn. A very fine book indeed. Highly recommended.
Comparisons: Conn Iggulden, Wilbur Smith, Valerio Massimo Manfredi.
Similar this month: Harry Bingham, Simon Scarrow.
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria. Orphaned at ten, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault.
The struggle between the English and the Danes and the strife between christianity and paganism is the background to Uhtred's growing up. He is left uncertain of his loyalties but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred's kingdom. Marriage ties him further still to the West Saxon cause but when his wife and child vanish in the chaos of the Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest of the Viking chieftains in a battle beside the sea. There, in the horror of the shield-wall, he discovers his true allegiance.
The Last Kingdom, like most of Bernard Cornwell's books, is firmly based on true history. It is the first novel of a series that will tell the tale of Alfred the Great and his descendants and of the enemies they faced, Viking warriors like Ivar the Boneless and his feared brother, Ubba. Against their lives Bernard Cornwell has woven a story of divided loyalties, reluctant love and desperate heroism. In Uhtred, he has created one of his most interesting and heroic characters and in The Last Kingdom one of his most powerful and passionate novels.
‘This has all the bloodiness, bretrayal, bravery and honour that we’ve come to expect from Cornwell.’ Sunday Express
‘It is stirring stuff, and few writers are better qualified than Cornwell to do justice to the excitement of the times…Ninth-century Britain and a master of straightforward storytelling - it is a marriage made in heaven.’ Sunday Telegraph
About the Author
Publication date3rd October 2005
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