The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell opens as slowly as the BBC series that can be found on the Canadian Netflix by the same name but as a fan of Bernard Cornwell’s other works and if the BBC series I knew that it had to get better.
I am about a hundred pages into this, the first book of the Saxon series, which follows the life and struggles of the Saxon Uthred who oft times finds more in common with his Viking capturers and of the frail yet devious King Alfred of Wessex.
At this stage in the story Uthred is still a young man barely out of childhood and has only just now met King Alfred. Bernard Cornwell, an artist when it comes to multifaceted characters, already hints at the many layers of distrust, machinations and intrigue that these two characters will go through together. How he knows to capture this so early (this series goes on with another 10 or so books) is beyond me. I only know it as I have read ahead, which I allude to in my earlier recommendation What I’m Reading Next…
This is a short read of some 300 pages which I suspect I will be finished shortly. It is not Bernard Cornwell’s best work (at least at this stage of the novel) yet it does showcase his skill as a writer of historical fiction, of which there are few equal. I recommend The Last Kingdom without hesitation.