Tag Archives: 9th Century

The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell

I’ve been meaning to read Bernard Cornwell for a while.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about his novels.  Somehow he has escaped me until now and all I can say is how??  I have truly missed out.

I started ‘The Last Kingdom‘ last week and I am totally engrossed.  I’ve been living and breathing this novel.  Cornwell has described a world so vividly that I can smell the fires burning, see the Viking Ships and feel the fear of the Saxons.

Cornwell’s vocabulary is simply magnificent, descriptive and relevant but not alienating and leaving me reaching for the dictionary every 5 seconds.  I am utterly in love with his writing style and his characters which have real depth.

The Last Kingdom tells the story of Uhtred, a young boy who is born English but adopted by a Dane when he is orphaned, learning the Danish ways and becoming Danish at heart….or does he?  Where does his loyalties lie?  Is he English or Danish?

As I mentioned earlier, Cornwell’s characters are given depth and you grow to love or hate them throughout the novel.  You come to care about their fate.  In chapter 7, something happens which absolutely gutted me.  There were simply no words.  I’m not going to go into details as it will lessen the impact when you read it for yourself (and I truly hope you do decide to read it for yourself because you will be in for a treat!).  I couldn’t believe it.  I text my husband (who has read the books) in shock and I experienced true emotion about that scene.

It stayed with me and I was still thinking about it the next day.  I love books that have that kind of effect on me, that make me feel real emotions.  I wanted to let out a Viking roar and go and avenge the wrongdoings!

George R.R. Martin gets a lot of credit for not pulling punches with his main characters and not being afraid to give them the chop but equally, Cornwell doesn’t either.  He is just more subtle about it.  You don’t see the rain of blows that is going to fall and it hits you that bit harder.  With Martin, it’s become a bit of a cliche and you go into a book wondering ‘who’s next?’.

I haven’t finished The Last Kingdom yet but I felt driven to write about it, shout from the rooftops about how good this novel is and how much you need to read it.  I have the next book in the series lined up and ready to go.

I can’t wait to slip between the covers with Bernard Cornwell and see what lies in store for Uhtred.  In fact, that’s just what I’m going to do now!