Book Club › Book of the Month › 2017 Book Selections › December BOTM: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell › Reply To: December BOTM: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
Done! Right under the 2018 wire!!
I really enjoyed this book. Really liked it. I definitely plan on continuing with the series. I have the next Poldark book coming up for January, and then I’ll jump right into book #2, The Pale Horseman. I am glad I had a chance to revisit Bernard C. as an author, because I really like him.
First, the writing style of the book is very easy to read, very easy to follow. It makes the reading of the history easy and not too cumbersome. I really enjoy the way BC develops his own fictional characters, and puts them beside historical figures. He does a good job of having the two types of characters interact believably. BC’s historical research is obvious, and his details even go down to specific battles and skirmishes. I really enjoy getting to see that from Uhtred’s point of view. Like the Outlander books, I really enjoy the historical details, and I am not bothered by the excess of them at all.
Second, the genre of the book appeals to me very much. Being both a historical fiction, but also a kind of action/adventure story. Without any “fantasy” elements. Yay for no fantasy!! I like how BC frames the majority of Uhtred’s childhood/teenage years in the Last Kingdom. It was a nice change to hear a story from a younger character’s point of view, while he is growing up, without the story being “young adult.” Even bigger Yay for no young adult!!! The story does have elements of a “coming of age” type of story, as Uhtred struggles with his identity big time. Being either a Saxon or a Dane. And also his religious identity, which he wavers back and forth with. His identity as a person, as a man, which leader to serve, the list goes on. He struggles with it all, and that vulnerability of character makes him likable and heroic, even when he is doing “bad” things.
Third, yes, this is a male-centric book, as were the times BC is writing about. I did not expect anything different, especially after having watched the show. I’m okay with it in the historical context and times it takes place in. It can be a bit much at times, and sometimes I long for a female, any female, in a scene. Brida is the main female character throughout the book, although she has many “male” characteristics. She’s kind of “kick-ass,” no-nonsense, and that is fun. She is a good foil for Uhtred, since he is uber-masculine. She doesn’t put up with any of his crap, and that is fun to see.
Fourth, yay for Uhtred. I enjoy him as the flawed hero of the story. I could see why some people don’t like him, since he goes around with Ragnar the Older, basically killing, stealing, etc. while growing up. I can see where this is going though. This is how he develops as a character, as he becomes a Dane as a child. As he forges his relationships with different groups of people. He becomes more sympathetic at times, more of a true “hero,” helping people, fighting for “good,” whatever that is. I enjoy how, as an old man, he is reflecting back on his life. It is fun to see how he got there.
Overall, a really good historical fiction, action/adventure story.
If you like historical fiction, I highly recommend the Last Kingdom TV series. Whether you like the book or not. It is a well-done show. I am a nerd about set design, costuming, location, and art direction. This show does a really good job with all of it. It pulls no punches, literally, with really well done fight/battle scenes. There are a few editing issues here and there, that I could nit-pick from any show (like there is one scene where one of the characters is holding a sword by the blade, really gripping it. And I’m like, okay, that’s an editing mistake). I can’t say enough about AD as Uhtred, because he could probably just stand there with the breeze blowing through his hair the whole time, and I’d be happy just to stare at him 🙂 🙂 The show helps you to get a feel for the time and place, even just how to pronounce all of the funky words. There is supposed to be a 3rd season coming out in 2018 I think, so I look forward to that.