Reader reviews for The Last Kingdom

How frustrating! After having suffered from insomnia for years I now discover that all along there was a big selection of turgid tomes by Bernard Cornwell to choose from!I have had more fun watching wood warp!
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Wow, just wow. Bernard Cornwell continues to impress me not just with his characterization and prose, but with his attention to time-setting and historical accuracy. In any case, this is one rowdy story filled with passion, honor, personal truth and lots of blood. :) Can't wait to pick up the next installment.
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I enjoyed this book, to a point, but I didn't particularly enjoy the bloody and repeated battle scenes. This is the beginning of the history of Alfred the Great and early English history, and I know the era was a bloody one with a lot of fighting as the English battled the Danish invaders. I appreciate tremendously the scholarship and research that went into the writing of this novel, because it is intense. My gut feeling tells me this is very realistic historic fiction. It was just a bit too realistic, I guess!
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The story of an English boy named Uhtred who is captured and raised by the Danes and struggles with conflicting loyalties to men and country.
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While I don't usually care for violence and blood, this book is thrilling. For once, the violence really means something, and, somehow, unreasonable though it may be, it happened over 500 years ago and doesn't seem as horrible somehow as violence in the present or recent past does. This is a personal story of a boy, whose father, gave him little affection or attention, who was captured by the Danes as he watched the battle in which his father was killed. He learned to like the Danes, especially the man who captured him, Ragnar, who treated him so well and gave him so much attention that he began to look upon Ragnar as his father. He spied for the Danes and fought for them, came to know Alfred while he still lived with the Danes, and saw the English way of life as restrictive and weak, as he thought their God was. Yet he always remembered that he should have been Elderman of a Northumbrian English city, but his deceitful uncle had stolen the title and land and held it for himself and his own son. Part of the reason that Uhtred returned to the English camp was to avenge the death of his Viking "father" and partly, he wanted Alfred to declare in his favor for the city and title he should rightfully hold, as proven in documents. The book gives a lot of insight into war, especially into war in those days. Much of the insight applies to events and actions of today. The story is well told, with good character studies, and an vast, but easily followed, array of characters. I will definitely look for more books in the series and by the author.
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Bad for Cornwell but not still not bad. Not enough revenge or love.
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This is the first book in a trilogy about King Alfred in the middle of the 9th century, defending England from the Danish invasion. This is the first book I've read by Bernard Cornwell, and I found it to be well researched and well written, but a little repetitive as the whole book is one bloody battle after another. I may eventually read the other books in the series, but they aren't at the top of my TBR pile.
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I'm going about this all the wrong way. I think I read the second book in this series first and this, the first book I'm reading second. Hopefully I'll read the third book third but you never know. It was more of the same really. The story starts with Uhtred losing his father and brother to the Danes. In the following battle he goes beserker (if you read the historical note at the end you'll get the joke) and challenges Ragnar. Ragnar sees something in the young Uhtred that he likes and takes him under his wing. There's an interesting concept in this book that I didn't really realise before now. Basically, Uhtred identifies most with the invaders of his country. He is a Saxon by birth in a time when the Saxons where embracing Christianity. Yet Uhtred identifies most with the Danes, Pagans who invaded his country and slayed his family. Maybe that's what's really relevant about this book. All the scare mongering in the News of the WOrld and the Mail on Sunday about immigration but really, this country has always been a cultural melting pot. Since the Romans we have been invaded by the Danes, the Saxons, the Normans etc, etc. Remember, the next time someone tries to tell you that our cultural heritage is being diluted that our cultural heritage IS diversity.
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To be truthful, I didn't quite finish this book. It was all right, but there were too many battles and not enough character development for me. Still, it's an entertaining read and perfect for some guy with a long flight ahead of him.
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A quick entertaining read. I want to say 'bro-lit", but I know that doesn't quite hit the mark. Not to deep, especially after coming off of Neal Stephenson, but Cornwell incorporates a unreliable first person narrator who tells this story in the past tense. Typical of Cornwell. In fact, my main disappointment with this first volume of the Saxon Chronicles is that it starts off very similarly to the first volume of The Warlord Chronicles: main character is a kid who is born in one culture, but raised in a different culture, allegiance issues, warrior focused, Pagan vs. Christian, shield walls, shallow family issues to work out. On the plus side, it is fun to read this with a highly detailed map of the British Isles nearby. Matching up the place names and geography gave me a sense of scale that fleshed out the story for me. Also, I like that Cornwell puts a bit of historical perspective into his afterwords. He knows what I want there. A lightning read all the same, but I hope the next ones get a little bit more interesting.
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