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5. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

I'd not heard of this series until it was filmed by the BBC last year. I thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation and grabbed the book when the Kindle edition was cheap.

I still haven't worked out whether Cornwell is a terrible writer or he just does Uhtred's voice very well. (When your narrator is a barely-literate 9th-century warrior, it's kind of hard to tell). Either way, I found it very hard to put down. For those of you not familiar with the story, Uhtred is born into a Northumbrian noble family, his father is killed in a Viking raid and he is taken captive by a Danish family. But he is valuable to the Danes even though his uncle has taken over his lands, and the Danes like, him, so they treat him like a son. As an adult he goes to Wessex & serves Alfred the Great in the hope of one day getting his lands back. It's mostly about fighting and becoming a proper warrior - the exact sort of thing I don't usually like.

On the one hand, it's been a long time since I read something this easy and pulpy. On the other hand, a lot of serious writers get their history & culture less right than Cornwell. I hesitate to recommend it, because there really is not a lot to it, but I loved it and had to stop myself downloading the second book right away. (Must finish the Shardlake series and the Falco books before I start on another historical series).


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