The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

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The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell was a Scribd read.  It falls in the historical fiction genre.  It tells the story of the birth of England as a unified nation rather than a series of small, independent kingdoms.

Uhtred is the second son of one of the leaders of one of those small kingdoms.  When his older brother is killed by Danes the ten tear old rides off to war with his father.  What transpires next results in the transformation of his life and the birth of a nation.

Uhtred is fascinating, the ultimate character study somewhere between violent sociopath and confused kid in over his head.  There are scenes of incredible violence  (as befitting the setting and period of history) and scenes of incredible detail (enough detail you’d think the author had lived through the experience).  And through it all, marches Uhtred aware of his place in history even if he isn’t quite sure what that means.

The book is the first of a trilogy and a fascinating glimpse into life as a Dane or Briton.  The battle scenes are tremendous, rich with detail and a woven tapestry to make the battles leap off the page.  Alfred is amazing from the first passage to the last.  His importance to English history has been forgotten but it cannot be under estimated.

There was a sense of deja vu as I read the book.  I swear I haven’t read it before, and no I didn’t watch the BBC adaptation.  It is probably because I have a minor in English history but it’s always possible that I’m wrong and I’ve read it before.

Three stars out of five because of the sense of deja vu I couldn’t shake.  I will read the other two installments in the series, I love that period of nation building.

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