Audio Book Review: The Last Kingdom

The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories #1)
by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Blurb: This is the exciting – yet little known – story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex, Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands, Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he has to decide which side he is on. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the magical fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure – based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors, depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England altogether. This is the exciting – yet little known – story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

My Review: This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by Bernard Cornwell. The reason? I’m not a great lover of “the great battle scene” and I’ve always felt the author would go there. Now I know for certain that he does. But…listening to battle scenes is much different to reading them. And listening to battle scenes in this story was a new experience for me. A good experience.

I enjoyed the story and the characters. I know it was based on history, how much so I don’t know, but it was well written. I must admit that I found it difficult to keep track of the characters because of their strange (similar sounding) names. However, I worked out the ones that matter and became totally engrossed in the plot.

The other thing that surprised me was the realisation that I don’t read many books written by men. It has never been intentional, but during this book I discovered I liked the different style of writing I found here. It’s hard to explain, but for me, it was a nice change of pace. It was gritty, no holding back, masculine. Don’t mess with me. Simply gripping. I will be listening too the next two books for sure.

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