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The Last Kingdom

The Last Kingdom Series, Book 1
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,035 ratings)
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Summary

Caught up in the power struggle between two kings, powerless to stop the bloodshed and compelled to take a side, this is a powerful tale of loyalty, war and the struggle to survive.

The first book in a brand-new series, The Last Kingdom is set in England during the reign of King Alfred.

Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria. Orphaned at 10, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault.

The struggle between the English and the Danes and the strife between christianity and paganism is the background to Uhtred's growing up. He is left uncertain of his loyalties but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred's kingdom. Marriage ties him further still to the West Saxon cause but when his wife and child vanish in the chaos of the Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest of the Viking chieftains in a battle beside the sea. There, in the horror of the shield-wall, he discovers his true allegiance.

The Last Kingdom, like most of Bernard Cornwell's books, is firmly based on true history. It is the first novel of a series that will tell the tale of Alfred the Great and his descendants and of the enemies they faced, Viking warriors like Ivar the Boneless and his feared brother, Ubba. Against their lives Bernard Cornwell has woven a story of divided loyalties, reluctant love, and desperate heroism. In Uhtred, he has created one of his most interesting and heroic characters and in The Last Kingdom one of his most powerful and passionate novels.

©2004 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Cornwell is a virtuoso of historical fiction." ( Sunday Telegraph)
"Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation." ( Daily Mail)
"Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched." ( Observer)

What members say

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Fate is unstoppable

What made the experience of listening to The Last Kingdom the most enjoyable?

A fantastic tale by a master of historical fiction, brilliantly performed by an actor who brings the characters to vivid life.

What other book might you compare The Last Kingdom to, and why?

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. Just as The Last Kingdom draws you into the world of the Vikings and Saxons, Gates of Fire recreates ancient Greece and the warriors that defended it against the might of the Persian Empire. These are books that celebrate the warrior ethos in all its bloody glory with a bold, dark humour.

Which character – as performed by Jonathan Keeble – was your favourite?

Apart from the brilliantly performed lead Uhtred, Earl Ragnar the Fearless is realised with real strength and humour. Like Uhtred you can't help loving him, despite his bloody Viking ways. His humour and thirst for life is in stark and brilliant contrast to the pious priests and monks who dominate the Saxon lands.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The Last Kingdom is an exciting listen, filled with action and adventure, and a warrior spirit that had me laughing out loud with its larger than life characters who live and die hard.

Any additional comments?

This is my first experience of Bernard Cromwell's books, but it will not be my last. I loved it. It has also sparked my interest in historical fiction in general and this period in particular. I shall certainly be listening to the other books in this series and will look out for others to try. I have heard Jonathan Keeble's narration before (in a less than inspiring James Herbert novel) but this was outstanding. One of the best performances I've heard in a long while and I'm looking forward to hearing more. Fate is unstoppable.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • William
  • COLWYN BAY, United Kingdom
  • 30-07-14

A Suprise to find , a Joy to listen to

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Any History fan who likes 8-9th century England will enjoy a tale of a young boy growth to manhood in Viking torn England.

Who was your favorite character and why?

the main character as its focused on him Uhtred son of Uhtred.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The big storm at sea.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

the big battles

Any additional comments?

If you like Viking or Anglo Saxons you will enjoy this book that is based on a young boy and his experiences. His battles loves and joys through the trials of the world he is born into. the narrator was top notch by the way. the book good and gritty. please listen.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic

Such a fantastic story that is wonderfully narrated. Would recommend to anyone. Better than the TV show, which is very good!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Curious choice of prose-style, but it works brilliantly.

I was a little put off at first when I realised that the story would be told retrospectively by the hero, as a chronicle of his life.

However, this didn't detract from the enjoyment and the narrator's performance even enhances it for the most part.

It's an interesting period of English history I knew very little about before starting the book.

Very different from Sharpe, which I'm more familiar with, but on the whole still excellent.

I will definitely be purchasing the next in the series, as long a the narration remains good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Reliably riveting

Where does The Last Kingdom rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's certInly up there with one of the more compelling reads. Took me a while to get used to Mr Keebles performance but when I did I was hooked

Who was your favorite character and why?

Leofrig. Perhaps the only honest character in the book and fills the diamond in the ruff comic aside role

What about Jonathan Keeble’s performance did you like?

Solid character interpretation and good timing and pace

Any additional comments?

I found this a little difficult to get into at first and I am still not sure how much I like or empathise with Uthred the main character. King Alfred is defiantly betrayed as a man not to be trusted and certainly does not trust Uthred and with good reason. His loŷalties change throughout the story but that makes it more compelling, you are never sure which way he will turn. Set against the backdrop of a country on the very edge of extinction the story draws you in effortlessly in the way you would expect of an experienced author. For all those who like a bit of historical fiction and for those looking for a new series to add to their collection, defiantly worth a try

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Just awesome

Awesome writing, awesome performance. Just awesome. Best audio book I've ever had. Totally loved it.


Would have just written 'awesome' but review required 15 words minmum. Could have written 'awesome' 15 times I suppose.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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WONDERFUL!!

Saw the TV series but the book has so much more important detail. Brilliant! Looking forward to the next

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Riveting story, excellent narration. Bravo!

Bravo! Jonathan Keeble’s narration brought Bernard Cornwell’s engrossing story of Uhtred to life. Just bought second in series and can’t wait to get started. I have read and loved other Bernard Cornwell’s series, Sharpe, Grail Quest, Warlord Chronicles, so why I ask myself has it taken so long for me to reach out for this series!?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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unreal

I literally couldnt stop listening to this. as soon as it finished, i started again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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good audio book

great start to a series of novels. good voice actor added to the depth of the book

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  • Stephen
  • 05-05-16

New threads in an old, accurate tapestry

Where does The Last Kingdom rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I had previously read many of Simon Scarrow's fiction of Romans in Britain, and enjoyed them. These here make a good follow-on. I find the writing a little superior and the narration is good. It's interesting for anyone who finds this period before 1066 intriguing, or who has an interest in the influence of Vikings on British history.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • K. A. Wolstenholme
  • 07-03-18

Cornwell at his best!

I've never been a fan of the Viking story and certainly dislike the "Hollywood style" dramatisations, so this purchase was a chance taken in a moment of boredom. However, Mr Cornwell manages to bring the characters to life in a way that makes them human and likeable. The added bonus of Jonathan Keeble and his wonderful voices makes this my new favourite. Looking forward to listening to the rest of the series!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • francisco
  • 18-08-17

Loved it !

I could not stop ... The narrator holds our attention and every action comes to life. And although the book has a slightly different story from the bbc series I'm going to buy The Pale Horseman.

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  • Mike
  • 23-01-17

Amazing narration, excellent story

Wow, one if the best readings I've heard. The range of distinct characters was so impressive. The story was so realistic, it really brought to life that period for me.

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  • Rui Ribeiro
  • 19-04-16

Enthralling

An excellent book, superbly written and narrated. Before finishing it, I found myself buying the additional audiobooks on the series. Highly recommended.

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  • Jarrod
  • 21-05-15

Excellent in every way

Really enjoyed this well written and well narrated historical fiction about a very interesting period of British history. Well done