From Bernard Cornwell, the New York Times bestselling author whom
the Washington Post calls "perhaps the greatest writer of
historical adventure novels today," comes a saga of blood, rage, fidelity,
and betrayal that brings to center stage King Alfred the Great, one of the most
crucial (but oft-forgotten) figures in English history. It is King Alfred and
his heirs who, in the ninth and tenth centuries, with their backs against the
wall, fought to secure the survival of the last outpost of Anglo-Saxon culture
by battling the ferocious Vikings, whose invading warriors had already captured
and occupied three of England's four kingdoms.
Bernard Cornwell's epic novel opens in A.D. 866. Uhtred, a boy
of ten and the son of a nobleman, is captured in the same battle that leaves his
father dead. His captor is the Earl Ragnar, a Danish chieftain, who raises the
boy as his own, teaching him the Viking ways of war. As a young man expected to
take part in raids and bloody massacres against the English, he grapples with
divided loyalties -- between Ragnar, the warrior he loves like a father, and
Alfred, whose piety and introspection leave him cold. It takes a terrible
slaughter and the unexpected joys of marriage for Uhtred to discover his true
allegiance -- and to rise to his greatest challenge.
In Uhtred, Cornwell has created perhaps his richest and most complex
protagonist, and through him, he has magnificently evoked an era steeped in
dramatic pageantry and historical significance. For if King Alfred fails to
defend his last kingdom, England will be overrun, and the entire course of
history will change.
The Washington Post - Katherine A. Powers
The Last Kingdom caters to those of us
whose appetite for rehashed legends was satisfied long ago. In addition to
providing thrilling combat action and satisfying details of material life,
military accoutrement and battle tactics, Cornwell's best historical fiction
pleases us mightily in the way his renditions of the great actors and events of
yore stray from received versions. Such contrariness is partly the product of
meticulous research and partly of a mischievous sense of humor. Happily, both
inform The Last Kingdom throughout.
This is a solid adventure by a crackling good
Booklist - Margaret Flanagan
Cornwell masterfully sets up his audience
for the second volume in this irresistible epic adventure.
Library Journal - Jane Henriksen Baird
Another great historical series in the making, this is highly recommended for
all public libraries.
Cornwell's no-fail mix of historic tidbits
and good-humored action makes the usually gloomy ninth century sound like a hell
of a lot of fun.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Andrew Lale Memorable History Alfred of Wessex has fallen very far down the list of memorable figures for us 21st centurions. Which is a shame, because Bernard Cornwells fictionalized retelling of his story reminds us what a cracking tale it is. There is the vivid drama of a... Read More
Wessex was one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in what is now England. With the reign of
Alfred (871-99) and the halting of the Danes, the King of Wessex became
the King of England. In the 10th century Alfred's descendents gradually acquired firm control over all England,
including the Danelaw (parts of north and east England).
However, in 1016 the Danish Canute
(Knut) took over as ruler (partly due to military
partly by invitation). After he died in 1042 the Wessex line was re-established by Edward 'The Confessor' (most famous for building parts of Westminster Cathedral). He died in 1066 and was succeeded by the unfortunate Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England, who was killed later the same year by William 'The Conqueror', from Normandy in France.
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