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The Warrior Chronicles (1) - The Last Kingdom [Hardcover]

Bernard Cornwell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Oct 2004

The first book in a brand new series, The Last Kingdom is set in England during the reign of King Alfred.

Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria. Orphaned at ten, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault.

The struggle between the English and the Danes and the strife between christianity and paganism is the background to Uhtred's growing up. He is left uncertain of his loyalties but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred's kingdom. Marriage ties him further still to the West Saxon cause but when his wife and child vanish in the chaos of the Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest of the Viking chieftains in a battle beside the sea. There, in the horror of the shield-wall, he discovers his true allegiance.

The Last Kingdom, like most of Bernard Cornwell's books, is firmly based on true history. It is the first novel of a series that will tell the tale of Alfred the Great and his descendants and of the enemies they faced, Viking warriors like Ivar the Boneless and his feared brother, Ubba. Against their lives Bernard Cornwell has woven a story of divided loyalties, reluctant love and desperate heroism. In Uhtred, he has created one of his most interesting and heroic characters and in The Last Kingdom one of his most powerful and passionate novels.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (4 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007149905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007149902
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 14.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the Alfred series.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Does the fact that the The Last Kingdom inaugurates yet another series from Bernard Cornwell fill you with anticipation--or trepidation? His immensely popular Sharpe novels are, of course, the bedrock of the author’s popularity. But when readers learned that he was to abandon the redoubtable Sharpe for a Grail Quest series, there were those who invoked the ‘if isn’t broke, why fix it?’ rule. However, when Cornwell proved himself equally adept at conjuring a world of knights and savage combat, his Grail Quest series (the first book of which was Harlequin) soon established itself as another Cornwell winner.

And here’s yet another series from the protean writer. Do we really need it? Yes, we do--it’s a safe bet that The Last Kingdom will prove that the author is seemingly capable of beginning an endless run of new novel sequences. As well as the impeccably plotted narrative, Cornwell has other fish to fry here: nothing less than a totally fresh look at a historical figure we think we know: Alfred the Great. Cornwell’s protagonist is Uhtred, caught in the conflict between the Danes and the English in the ninth century. He is born into the English aristocracy, but loses his parents at the age of ten and is raised in Viking fashion by a Dane. When massacres reign down on both sides, Uhtred is torn between his loyalties--and when his family disappears, a reckoning with a Viking chieftain is in the offing.

Behind all this is the King, Alfred: complex, conflicted, and by no means the figure that the conventional history books render him. All of the customary Cornwell virtues are fully on display here.--Barry Forshaw


'Cornwell is a virtuoso of historical fiction.' Sunday Telegraph

'Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation.' Daily Mail

'Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.' Observer

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
167 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable historical fiction book... 23 Oct 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This new series from Bernard Cornwell focuses on 9th Century Britain and the onset of the Viking invasion and settlement in a move that would split the country into Wessex and the Danelaw, and how Alfred started to develop into the "great" king he became.
The story follows a young boy called Uhtred, as his family deal with the invasion, and without giving away too much of the plot the paths his life takes because of the invasion, crossing the paths of both Dane leaders and Saxon ones.
I have seen criticism that this book is the same formula as all Bernard Cornwell's other books. I won't deny that it DOES follow the same style of story development and characterization as previous books such as "Sharpe" and the Holy Grail trilogy. However the real beauty of these books is the weaving of a fictional story into actual chronicled history, and Mr.Cornwell is a master at this.
We meet such real historical characters as King Alfred, Guthrum and there's a wonderful take on the death of King Edmund of East Anglia.
The way this book has been written you can truly see the Danes and the Saxons in your mind, hear them, touch their clothes and even smell them, such is the wonderful ambience that comes from reading the book.
If you're looking for something original and unconventional then this book may not be for you....but generally speaking historical novels like these can't be too original. If, however you are a fan of history and love delving into thinking about possibilities within history that are not black and white, then you'll love this book.
I'm really looking forward to the second book in this series.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernard Cornwell at His Brilliant Best 11 Feb 2005
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
Bernard Cornwell is back to his brilliant best after what I thought a slight stutter with Stonehenge. This book is excellent and it is difficult to give a brief synopsis of it without giving too much of the plot away, but here goes.
The book begins in the late 9th century AD. The Vikings are seen in the coastal water of Northumbria. The news comes through to the Ealdorman of the major stronghold in Northumbria that the Vikings have captured Eoferwic (York) and he marches with his army and his ten year old son to join forces with the other English forces to retake the city.
The battle is a resounding success for the Vikings and the young boy is captured and taken into the family of Ragnar one of the senior Vikings. Ragnar likes the boy Uhtred and treats him as his own son.
The struggle between the English and the Danes and how the boy grows up not knowing where is true loyalties lie is the background to the book. His eventual marriage moves him closer to the English cause, and when he is drawn into a battle against one of the greatest Viking chieftains he realises at last his true allegiance.
This really is a blood and guts novel and a really good read.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great story, especially for the B rits.... 25 Oct 2004
Some say, its the "same old, same old". Others tell it correctly. Its the work (again) of the leader of Historical Fiction, at his best. I do have a critissism however. The book ended, as books will. Far too soon for me.
I tried reading slowly, but it still only lasted a couple of days. Sad. Its exciting and yes, of course, its following in the time loved tradition of the "young fella growing up to be a man, etc. etc. etc.", thats just how these books are written. Would we really want to change that?
Anyhow, being about my favorite Author, Bernard Cornwell can do no wrong, so I just cant wait for the next two books in this trilogy.
This story is tight, the charactors are so real you can smell them and if my memory serves me well, the history is pretty close to how we were told it at school too. Alfred, later known as the "Great", the conflicts the transgressions, are all there.
I am quite purposely NOT going into the plot, or the story, as there are obviously plenty of you Cornwell fans out there who havent read the book yet. So Im not going to be the one who gives anything away.
Just buy it, you wont be sorry, also, Amazon were selling the hardback for the price of a decent bottle of wine, way to go Amazon...
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alfred the Great, Cornwell the Great 13 Sep 2005
I don't think I have ever read a Bernard Cornwell book and been disappointed. I now must intentionally bypass the Cornwell section at the local bookshop, in order to bring more variety to my bookcase. The Sharp series was his beginning but it certainly wasn't his end, as out came the Grail Quest and the Arthur series. Now from that amazing storytelling mind comes a new hero, a new stage and a new struggle.
The reason I love his books is because he uses historical fact to tell of intrigue and adventure. Take this new series for example, it draws you into a young boys adolescent life, shows you his beginnings, and then changes his destiny and makes him walk the path to manhood. The choice of time period is quite interesting as it focuses on the days of King Alfred (849AD-899AD), who was the King of Wessex and later the King of Anglo-Saxons who united the people against the Viking invaders. The young boy is the heir to a minor province in Northumberland, and is captured by the Vikings. He grows up loving Viking ways, worshipping pagan gods and dreaming of glory on the battle field. But he still remembers his home and yearns to go back to reclaim his lands. He has to chose between what he has come to love and what he knows he must do.
This book is about destiny. The life of a man whose destiny leads him to be part of Alfred's court. It is pure unadulterated fun, interesting facts about the Vikings (for example the word Viking, means to go raiding) and great battle scenes (Cornwell's trademark). Like all Cornwell books the character development goes only as far as the ability to wield a sword, but that doesn't matter as the strength in his books is combining historical fact with some memorable characters. I just cant wait to read the next instalment, which should come out before the end of 2005 titled: The Pale Horseman.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good storyline in ancient
This is an enjoyable read and hard to put down, as with all Bernard Cornwell books. Good storyline in ancient England
Published 19 hours ago by maybe
5.0 out of 5 stars ... this book but Clive Cussler is one of the best for my taste
Yet to read this book but Clive Cussler is one of the best for my taste. Book condition is fine.
Published 1 day ago by Radio Fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 day ago by Jo Watts
3.0 out of 5 stars He tells a good story, and this book is no exception
I'm a real fan of historical fiction and have read several Cornwell books before. He tells a good story, and this book is no exception. Read more
Published 5 days ago by lsgMerlin
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
Thoroughly enjoyable read from the dramatic history master - this is my 3rd Cornwell read and this one is very good!
Published 11 days ago by N J Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars brill read
Already a lover of cornwell and this book is the start of a great series, you really feel like you're experiencing the action with them
Published 21 days ago by Lauren
1.0 out of 5 stars a very good read very good series
A very good read the series follows on brilliantly . Good characters and a history lesson whilst enjoying the novel . Superb
Published 25 days ago by mike Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I just finished reading this today and I have ordered the other six in the series because I cant wait to read what happens next. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Julieb
4.0 out of 5 stars swashbukler
have enjoyed the sharpe series that he wrote so i am sure i will like this one as he is a good story teller
Published 1 month ago by colin mcpherson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to vikings
I loved this book even if the shield wall was used too many times to give an easy victory. Great if your a fan of history! I brought the next in the season.
Published 1 month ago by Rupertbe
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