Letters I Haven't Written Yet

The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell

For those who love reading historical fiction, Cornwell’s writings are known.  He does not stray from his trademark attention to historical detail in his writing, so when you read one of his books, you know what you are coming for. And as such, when you read the Last Kingdom, you know what you are going to get.

Uhtred’s story is one of war and belief – of love and loss. Of course it’s not just Uhtred’s story – it’s also Alfred’s story, and the birth of modern England. As usual, Cornwell’s attention to detail is outstanding, and so as a reader you become immersed in the period, easily imagining not only the characters but also their homes, their trials and interactions. And of course, there is an important element of war in this book: the author studies the instruments of war meticulously before writing about them, so for those who also love military history, this book is fascinating. But my favourite part of this book was, in fact, the battling of religions – Danish gods versus Christian priests, and how in the middle ages religion permeated every aspect of life. Don’t be afraid, it’s not heavy on theology or anything, but the religious battles – paganism versus Catholicism are always present, and it is what makes the book even more interesting.

I will admit that while it was an interesting story and I generally buy his books on name alone, I was slightly disappointed at some points when reading this book. There are sections where he spends too much time telling me things instead of showing them to me. Plus, too much foreshadowing can get annoying, and made the story drag on unnecessarily in some places. Which is really unfortunate, as it is a great story. Because, as ever, history is always so interesting when told well.

That being said, despite its shortcomings, the story is told well, and as such, I would recommend it for the historical fiction lover in you. And I really do love historical fiction. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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