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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 über-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.
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Author:  Bernard Cornwell
Publisher:  HarperCollins e-books (January 25, 2005)
Format:  Kindle Edition
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review by . June 13, 2010
Excellent First Book in a Terrific Series by Bernard Cornwell
Bernard Cornwell's, The Last Kingdom, is the first book in the Saxon Tales series. It is a compelling, and emotionally satisfying story of a noble Saxon boy, Uhtred, snatched by the fearsome Danes who routinely raided England in the 9th century. Despite his violent capture, Uhtred comes to love and respect Earl Ragnar, the Danish warrior chieftain who raises Uhtred as his own son. This leads to the continuing conflict Uhtred faces as he weighs his loyalty to the Saxons of his birth and the …
review by . October 06, 2005
This one is a nicely done rendition of the period when the Danes were overrunning England and Alfred, king of the holdout English kingdom of Wessex (land of the West Saxons), stood nearly alone against them. After the other kingdoms, including Northumbria, Mercia, and East Anglia had fallen, there was only Alfred's Wessex and Alfred, a somewhat prissy churchman, seemed the least likely of English kings to hold them off. But he proved a surprise to his contemporaries and, of course, to the Danes.   &n …
review by . June 05, 2005
Just a few moments ago, I was writing a review of one of Cornwell's American Civil War novels. Now I am writing a review of this Cornwell novel about 9th Century England. That's how good a historical novelist Cornwell is: the era doesn't matter. Cornwell weaves fact and fiction together seamlessly, believably and in a way sure to engage the reader's interest.     The year is 866 A.D. The island is not yet united and the Danes raid and conquer at will. Cornwell's device is Uhtred, …
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