The Last Kingdom
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Oct. 22nd, 2006 | 09:26 pm
posted by: em220 in isbn_045
Title: The Last Kingdom
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Genre: Historical Fiction
I Rate: A-
I read this book for my monthly book club and was a little nervous. I don't usually read historical fiction, fearing that I will not relate or that it will be slow and boring. This book, however, is well-written, plot driven and reads like a movie (in the best way possible).
The Last Kingdom tells the story of the Danes conquering the 4 Kingdoms of England. The first three fall easily to Danish rule, while the last kingdom, lead by Alfred the Great, attempts to drive the Danes away. While the protagonist, young Uhtred of Babbenburg, is a fictional character, almost all of the other characters actually lived and fought at this time.
The story is told by Uhtred, but as this is the first book of a larger series, it is his older self telling the story. The book opens when Uhtred is 10 years old. He gets captured by the Danes and taken in by Ragner the Fearless. As he watches the English fight the Danes, Uhtred struggles to figure out where his loyalties lie -- with his country or with his new "family" of Danes. As he watches the English fight the Danes, Uhtred struggles to understand if his loyalty should be to his new family of Danes, or to his country. The pace of the book works really well, as does the seamless integration of a child's observations along with the wisdom of the grown up Uhtred.
Because this is the first book of a longer story -- and because it is told by the adult Uhtred -- we get hints of what ultimately happens to characters, but just enough to keep us interested beyond the last chapter of The Last Kingdom. That said, though, the book does come to a nice conclusion, the narrative is wrapped up at a logical place leaving the reader satisfied with the story and still hungering for more. Bernard Cornwell is a joy to read. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!