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Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom If only the first 200 pages were like the last 100! I really did enjoy the last 115 pages of 'The Last Kingdom' but in my humble opinion this does not make for a great read, it says more about my powers of endurance than the author's ability to capture his audience. Unfortunately for this reader, the overall experience was soured by the sheer boredom of the first two thirds of this book.

The book is narrated in first person by the main character Uhtred years after events have occured. The story takes place in 9th century England & centers on King Alfred the Great's war with the Danes. Uhtred an English boy, son of a Lord of Northumbria is captured by raiding Danes & adopted by the Danish warrior Earl Ragnar and taught "viking" ways. Uhtred's allegiance changes through the novel as he gives his oath to King Alfred of Wessex, ruler of the only English kingdom to withstand Danish assault.

I gathered from Cornwell's historical notes that most of the savage battle scenes in the novel are historically well recorded and while Ragnar & Uhtred are fictional characters, many others actually existed. Obviously King Alfred & Alfred's nephew AEthelwold but also Ubba Lothbroksson, the great Danish warrior, Guthrum, Halfdan & Ivar the Boneless and many of the English Ealdormen.

I am still undecided whether 115 great pages are incentive enough to attempt the 'Pale Horseman', the continuation of Uhtred's story.

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