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Reveiw of The Last Kingdom - Bernard Cornwell posted 12 Aug 2004, 18:08 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

Having just finished this novel thought that Id best submit my reveiw here so here you go : With a sudden boon in recent years of the Historical Fiction genre, the quality of writing has gone from strength to strength, but how well does the latest from, who many would perhaps describe as Britain's Historical Fiction King live up to the other novels that are vying for the publics money. Having been a fan of Bernard Cornwell since I picked up his Starbuck Chronicles and watched the Sharpe TV series Ive always looked to what was coming out and eagerly anticipated his next release. However for a number of years Ive yearned for him to get back to the days of war within our green and pleasant land and write something akin to his Warlord (King Arthur) series and here it is. This novel follows the exploits of Uhtred, a Noble born Saxon captured by the Vikings during a seige of York and takes us through how the principle character is treated and raised by this warrior people which also shows the menial side of the Danes when they weren't at war, a great boon in my book as if Christian accounts are to be believed they were just bloodthirsty pagans out for Pillaging and Gold but as usual Cornwell reads between the lines and gives us a clearer picture of the society behind the myth. The novel takes the reader through a time of turbulence when the Danes had captured a great part of England and Alfred "the Great's" Wessex was the only surviving Christian Kingdom to face the might of the invaders (hence the title). But how would this war be described as well as brought to a modern audience. As with all of Cornwell's work the battles are clearly drawn up with research into historical documents purporting to those times used where possible, other than this the years of strategy that are under Cornwell from his previous books lead him to what perhaps is some of the best guessed and what I would term more beleiveable war descriptions to grace a novel. But what else does this epic offer? When I began reading this tale, I found myself making comparrisons to what I would decribe as one of my favourite films of all time, The Vikings, which stared Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis. I loved the way in which the foes were described from the first few moments when one of the Danes did the Oar dance to show thier dexterity and balance which gave the reader a great sense of belonging as well as allowing them to sympathise with the "enemy." This also allows the reader to see the more human aspect of the foe as well as demonstrating that neither one is either "evil" or "good" but a general shade of grey inbetween the covers. Add onto this and you also discover that throughout the novel, all characters were given humanising traits such as Alfred's affliction of what some historians suspect was Crohns Disease which then gives the reader perhaps a fuller flavour of the times of our ancestors. Indeed in the Historical note Cornwell also describes that the principle family line of the protagonist are his ancestors, although we do note that he did give them their lands a few years earlier to make the novel peice together better and allowed us to see the conflict as it was fought. I do hope that another novel follows as unlike some authors not all threads are tied up with a nice pink bow in the last few pages, which yet again is an attestment to Cornwell knowing that not all problems are sorted in a short time but can take a great many years to acheive the fulfilment of what would seem like a simple quest. For this he has to be commended. On the whole if your a fan of Cornwell's earlier Warlord series then this currently singular novel is deffinetly for you, if you like his other stuff, you'll like this one as well. As a new reader to the genre you really cant pick a better book to start with. Perhaps what really needs to be said here though is the fact that from when the novel was announced I had been looking forward to it and my reading consumption is such that if I'm not a fan of a book within the first 30 pages I'll put it down for a later date. This one I picked up and finished at 5:48 GMT, and as such can be no greater praise for an author than a readers sleepless night as they can't wait to discover the fates of the characters involved. Long may the fates weave a web with the destiny of Uhtred. view post


posted 12 Aug 2004, 19:08 by Mithfânion, Didact

Dros The Last Kingdom is the first book of a trilogy. I'm really looking forward to this book, one of 2004's most highly anticipated releases, and you're to be envied for having an ARC ;) view post


posted 12 Aug 2004, 22:08 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

I thought that it probably was but couldnt find reference to that in the arc, still I think that you'll find that its worth the wait. view post


posted 14 Aug 2004, 04:08 by steve, Peralogue

I got my hands on the Arthur series, one of the best Arthur tales out their. view post


posted 14 Aug 2004, 15:08 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

Then you'll definetly go for this novel Steve. It follows some similarities in the constructive writing (probably a strange thing to say considering its the same author but I found his Grail Quest series written in another perspective and it was the Arthur writing I enjoyed) and the character perspective is similar as well. I think its something that once picked up will be hard to put down, it definetly was for me. view post


posted 16 Aug 2004, 17:08 by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

How did you get the ARC? I am trying desperately to figure out some way to get on a reviewer list or something so that I can read these books before they come out. view post


posted 17 Aug 2004, 04:08 by Taliesin, Peralogue

Oh wow, I'll have to read this once it finally comes it.... view post


posted 17 Aug 2004, 13:08 by Adres, Candidate

[quote="steve":33s077o6]I got my hands on the Arthur series, one of the best Arthur tales out their.[/quote:33s077o6] I agree. I loved Cornwell's Arthur series. I can't remember what's its title in English: I've read only the Italian translation entitled "La Saga di Excalibur" ("The Saga of Excalibur"... very ordinary title). Was it "The Enemy of God" perhaps? Anyway, really good books. view post


posted 17 Aug 2004, 18:08 by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

The whole series was entitled the Warlord Trilogy, consists of : The Winter King The Enemy of God Excalibur Hope that helps. :D view post


posted 18 Aug 2004, 14:08 by Adres, Candidate

[quote="drosdelnoch":2owjdsxl]The whole series was entitled the Warlord Trilogy, consists of : The Winter King The Enemy of God Excalibur Hope that helps. :D[/quote:2owjdsxl] Yes, thank you. Surely it is written in the credits of the italian edition books but I've forgot it and I'm too lazy to go and see! view post


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posted 25 Jan 2006, 13:01 by Randal, Auditor

Whilst I loved Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian series, I don't think this one was quite up to par. Not necessarily written worse, mind. But it felt way too similar to the Arthur series. The main character in particular resembled Derfel a lot. I find this to be something of a problem with much of Cornwell's work. It gets derivative of itself. Only the Warlord Chronicles transcended this and became truly good in it's own right. Oh, and can a moderator [i:r9tjozio]please[/i:r9tjozio] delete the preceding spam post? view post


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