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The Last Kingdom [UNABRIDGED CD] (Audiobook)
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Uhtred is an English boy of 9th century Northumbria, orphaned at ten, adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is bound up with King Alfred, who rules over the last English kingdom, after the Danes overrun the other three. That war, with its massacres, defeats and betrayals, is the background to Uhtred's childhood, and leaves him uncertain of his loyalties. After witnessing a slaughter, he joins the English side just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet. Marriage ties him further to Alfred's kingdom, but when his wife and child vanish during a Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest Viking chieftain in a battle beside the sea, and there he discovers his true allegiance.
Top customer reviews
Regarding history, the major characters, other than Uhtred, were apparently real, the major events were more or less real (one, Ubba, is killed a year earlier than historically to make the story more complete) and the story also gives a genuinely interesting insight into how the Danes of the period lived. I am not in a position to know how genuine that is, but it most certainly gives the impression that Cornwell has deeply researched the period. That may be because he is apparently descended from an Uhtred, although from 200 years later. The character of Uhtred is somewhat overly heroic, possibly because of the personal association, while the characters of the leading known Danes are as well portrayed as could be expected, given that there are historical requirements. The technology and way of life at the time are also well portrayed, although the battle scenes, while exciting to read, tend to be more glamorized. Cornwell tells us that they were horrible, but the actual showing does not quite give that impression, although since Uhtred is telling the story, perhaps we can forgive him for glamorizing his own role. Overall it is a very interesting read, and since it appears to be the start of a series, it encourages the reader to go further. Cornwell does very well to end the book in a way that is almost an ending; my one minor criticism is that it really should have included Alfred’s response to what had happened. Well worth the read.