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The Last Kingdom

Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
Series: The Last Kingdom Series, Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Summary

This is the exciting - yet little known - story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England's four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex, Alfred's kingdom and the last territory in English hands, Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he has to decide which side he is on. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father's land, the magical fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure - based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell's ancestors, depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England altogether. This is the exciting - yet little known - story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England's four kingdoms.

©2005 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Much fighting, little culture

I thoroughly enjoy when historical fiction makes me feel as though I'm right there with the characters. To me takes a level of dedication to describing everyday activities and setting a wider context. This book does not do that in my opinion.
It is a story of fights and the struggle to find a way in life.
I just could not relate to, nor understand, the desicions of the main character. Thus, I was left with a lot of war scenes interspersed with confusing choices.

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Profile Image for Joshua
  • Joshua
  • 02-10-15

Great series of books

Any additional comments?

I love good historical novels that send me to Wikipedia to learn more about what is fact and what is fiction. This story fit the bill perfectly. Excellent narration and I have listened until book 6 and I'll listen more at some point. But I hope the author wraps it up soon. Not perhaps for those who don't like a lot of violence. The myriad of battle scenes put my wife off of the series. But that was the times in England during the Viking invasions. I believe a song of fire and ice was partly based on this period of English history.

53 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • Eyal
  • 20-10-15

Cornwell is becoming my current best favorite author

I've actually started reading this series , by mistake, from the eighth book, than returned to this, the first title.

I would have thought it a great book, but following my experience, I know Cornwell will make them greater still.

Two things bother me a little: The first - Uhtred is somewhat of a Forest Gumption, seeming to be at all the right places at all the right moments, meeting all the right people. This is probably something the author could not have really avoided when taking up the task of telling real history using a single fictional protagonist, but still, it's sometimes felt while reading; The second thing - one of the nicer things about Cormwell's writing, and indeed any good military novelist, is his focus around what drives people, because people make the armies. But, in doing so he sometimes misses on the key point of what make someone the leader of men (or, rather, what makes men follow a person), and sometime misses out by talking about cliché personal drives (we are all lonely, yada yada yada).

Still, Cormwell does very well despite these things, and I plan on reading every title on the series.

42 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • M.R. Thomsen
  • 19-06-15

Bernard Cornwell is one of my favorite authors.

this is a great book and seeies. Cornwells writing is captivating and thoroughly entertaining and interesting.

jonathan Keeble is a great narrator who. he brings the story to life, mastering the art changing pace at just the right time to fx. stress the urgency or direness of a situation or accentuate the action in a battle. I really enjoyed this audiobook.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JRock
  • 28-01-15

More enjoyable than expected

Love all the characters - had to go online a lot to figure out who's who. Narrator was excellent! Looking ahead I'm a bit worried that he doesn't narrate the entire series. On to The Pale Horseman

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Craig
  • 09-02-15

This Series is a Winner

You will have to do the usual hunt and peck to find all the novels in the series. There are several narrators and gaps in the series links. However, they are available if you switch narrators. Jonathan Keeble is fantastic in the first two books. An interlude then comes with the adequate, Tom Sellwood, followed by Keeble and John Lee. You finish up with two more decent narrators that do a good job of holding the tension.

These books seem to be the basis for the "Irish-Canadian historical drama television series (see Wiki)," Vikings. The time period is the same, as is the character focus. The novels are filled with battles, intrigue, double-cross and blackmail. The era is the 9th century…the setting is England.

The antagonists cum protagonists and visa versa are Danes and Northerners, invading England for plunder. Battles are with sword, axe, lance, and shield. Amazing stuff. Realistic without crossing the line to phantasmagoria.

This series is two spears up.

44 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie Winn
  • 08-11-15

Fast-paced storytelling.

This author is great at bringing history to life. His characters are so alive I would fully expect their portraits to have honored places in their countries. There is great detail, but it doesn't bog the story down. The narrator performed this book like a master storyteller. I could well imagine sitting near a fireplace listening to an epic tale of adventure. I will be listening to the rest of the books in this series.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-11-15

WONDERFUL in EVERY WAY

The story was great. Never dull, always interesting. It was obvious the author put endless hours into researching life back then, as it showed in everything down to the smallest of details. The narration could not possibly have been better. It was, happily, one of the rare times when it seems like the narrator was custom made for a specific book. They were a perfect match. Great battle scenes, probably some of the best I've ever read. This was my first book by Cornwell, though I've had my eye on him for a while, I just never managed to get on with reading one of his books, but I am now definitely a big fan. I hope the rest are as great as this.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Javier
  • 01-03-15

Left me wanting more!

The story truly took me, and I felt as if I was there and the protagonist telling me his tale with the fire bringing warmth as we talk. I hope the rest of the books can shine more light on things and see how he will slowly reclaim what is his. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. "For destiny is everything."

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Amy Wakefield
  • 24-06-15

Just can't stop listening

This was a great story that was told very well. I simply could not stop listening. An amazing experience. I will definitely continue in the series.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicole Porter
  • 09-05-18

Perfect blend of story and narration -

I've listened to the entire series (Saxon Chronicles) and without a doubt some of the best spent money and time I've invested in a long while. This is such a GREAT story, so well written and told. The narration is outstanding for 8 of the 10 books. Johnathon Keeble is the greatest for this series, but unfortunately he only does 3 of the books. The last 4 books are narrated very very well - so stick with it cause it all turns out well.

This story sucked me right in and I couldn't wait to listen to the next one and the next one and the next one..
I enjoyed Uhtred so very much - every step of the way - and some of his friends will be my friends forever too.... Just a MUST listen; the entire series is a must listen....

I cried and laughed and laughed and cried for 11 books.... had such a great time.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful