Excerpt from The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Last Kingdom

by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2005, 333 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2006, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Everyone looks old to the young," Ravn said. "That must be King Egbert."

"King Egbert?" I had never heard of such a person.

"He was Ealdorman Egbert," Ravn explained, "but he made his peace with us in the winter and we have rewarded him by making him king here in Northumbria. He is king, but we are the lords of the land." He chuckled, and young as I was I understood the treachery involved. Ealdorman Egbert held estates to the south of our kingdom and was what my father had been in the north, a great power, and the Danes had suborned him, kept him from the fight, and now he would be called king, yet it was plain that he would be a king on a short leash. "If you are to live," Ravn said to me, "then it would be wise to pay your respects to Egbert."

"Live?" I blurted out the word. I had somehow thought that having survived the battle then of course I would live. I was a child, someone else's responsibility, but Ravn's words hammered home my reality. I should never have confessed my rank, I thought. Better to be a living slave than a dead ealdorman.

"I think you'll live," Ravn said. "Ragnar likes you and Ragnar gets what he wants. He says you attacked him?"

"I did, yes."

"He would have enjoyed that. A boy who attacks Earl Ragnar? That must be some boy, eh? Too good a boy to waste on death he says, but then my son always had a regrettably sentimental side. I would have chopped your head off, but here you are, alive, and I think it would be wise if you were to bow to Egbert."

Now, I think, looking back so far into my past, I have probably changed that night's events. There was a feast, Ivar and Ubba were there, Egbert was trying to look like a king, Ravn was kind to me, but I am sure I was more confused and far more frightened than I have made it sound. Yet in other ways my memories of the feast are very precise. Watch and learn, my father had told me, and Ravn made me watch, and I did learn. I learned about treachery, especially when Ragnar, summoned by Ravn, took me by the collar and led me to the high dais where, after a surly gesture of permission from Ivar, I was allowed to approach the table. "Lord King," I squeaked, then knelt so that a surprised Egbert had to lean forward to see me. "I am Uhtred of Bebbanburg," I had been coached by Ravn in what I should say, "and I seek your lordly protection."

That produced silence, except for the mutter of the interpreter talking to Ivar. Then Ubba awoke, looked startled for a few heartbeats as if he was not sure where he was, then he stared at me and I felt my flesh shrivel for I had never seen a face so malevolent. He had dark eyes and they were full of hate and I wanted the earth to swallow me.

From The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell. Copyright Bernard Cornwell 2005. Used by permission of the publisher, Harper Collins.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hillbilly Elegy
    Hillbilly Elegy
    by J.D. Vance
    In this illuminating memoir, Vance recounts his trajectory from growing up a "hillbilly" in ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dark Flood Rises
    The Dark Flood Rises
    by Margaret Drabble
    Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and ...
  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas--a place ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -