Book Review: "The Last Kingdom" By Bernard Cornwell

In the middle years of the ninth century, the fierce Danes stormed onto British soil, hungry for spoils and conquest. Kingdom after kingdom fell to the ruthless invaders until but one realm remained. And suddenly the fate of all England—and the course of history—depended upon one man, one king.

From New York Times bestselling storyteller Bernard Cornwell comes a rousing epic adventure of courage, treachery, duty, devotion, majesty, love, and battle as seen through the eyes of a young warrior who straddled two worlds.

I’ll be honest. I watched the television show inspired by Bernard Cornwell’s novel before I read this book. I binged every season of The Last Kingdom on Netflix as soon as they became available. I became so obsessed with the heart pounding battles, gripping characters and wonderfully woven plot that I had to pick up the book. Sure, I already know where the story’s going, but we all know the book is always better than the movie/show. Reading the novel regardless of my backwards trek to its pages resulted in a rewarding experience, nevertheless.

For starters, the book only rewarded me with every minute detail a show/film medium can’t communicate.So, the sprinkles to my cake came after the cake’s consumption. With or without Uthred’s internal narrative, he’s a wonderfully written character.He’s human. He makes mistakes, and he copes with one of history’s greatest struggles between cultures repeatedly displacing him and paves his own path forward. Every character he comes in contact with has their own story to tell. Cornwell does a fabulous job of exposing the reader to Saxon and Viking culture through Uthred’s experiences and the stakes he faces are always clear.

More than anything, Cornwell’s novel offers me a fond reminder of why historical fiction inspired me to write. I’ve sense wandered into the genres of fantasy and horror with my writing but historical fiction I’ve never left behind. Historical fiction offers a portal into the past, one where the reader feels like they’ve gone back in time. Cornwell paints an excessively well-crafted canvas of battling cultures, engrossing superstition and a frightening coming of age tale. If you’re looking for a great historical read that won’t take you long to get through, this is where to start. If you’ve seen the show, picking up the novel is a no brainer.

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