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The Last Kingdom: The Saxon Chronicles, Book 1 | [Bernard Cornwell]

The Last Kingdom: The Saxon Chronicles, Book 1

From Bernard Cornwell, the New York Times best-selling author whom the Washington Post calls "perhaps the greatest writer of historical adventure novels today", comes a saga of blood, rage, fidelity, and betrayal. In the 9th and 10th centuries, King Alfred and his heirs fought to secure the survival of the last outpost of Anglo-Saxon culture by battling the ferocious Vikings, whose invading warriors had already captured and occupied three of England's four kingdoms.
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Publisher's Summary

From Bernard Cornwell, the New York Times best-selling author whom the Washington Post calls "perhaps the greatest writer of historical adventure novels today", comes a saga of blood, rage, fidelity, and betrayal. In the 9th and 10th centuries, King Alfred and his heirs fought to secure the survival of the last outpost of Anglo-Saxon culture by battling the ferocious Vikings, whose invading warriors had already captured and occupied three of England's four kingdoms.

In A.D. 866, Uhtred, a boy of 10 and the son of a nobleman, is captured in the same battle that leaves his father dead. His captor is the Earl Ragnar, a Danish chieftain, who raises the boy as his own, teaching him the Viking ways of war. As a young man expected to partake in raids and bloody massacres of the English, he grapples with divided loyalties, torn between Ragnar, the warrior he loves like a father, and Alfred, whose piety and introspection leave him cold. It takes a terrible slaughter and the unexpected joys of marriage for Uhtred to discover his true allegiance, and to rise to his greatest challenge.

Ready for battle? Don't miss the rest of the Saxon Chronicles Series, including The Pale Horseman (Book 2), Lords of the North (Book 3), and Sword Song (Book 4).

©2005 Bernard Cornwell; (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Fiction (Abridged)

"A solid adventure by a crackling good storyteller." (Publishers Weekly)
"Cornwell deserves praise for his mesmerizing narrative finesse and his authentic historical detailing....[An] irresistible epic adventure." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (558 )
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4.3 (243 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Stephen Seattle, WA, USA 04-04-05
    Stephen Seattle, WA, USA 04-04-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Historical Fiction!"

    Cornwell writes exceedingly well. His historical novels are, usually, excellent and compelling with well-drawn heroes and dastardly villains. Cornwell's narrative style is often gripping and heavily laced with known historical nuances. Simply put, Cornwell combines imaginative storytelling with historical detail that "sells" the story in such a way that it often proves difficult to separate actual fact from fancy, which can be great fun. Never a disappointment, Cornwell deftly creates a backstory which often facilitates an intensely immersive listening experience. In addition, Cornwell's "Grail" series featuring 3 parts which includes (in order) "The Archer's Tale" "Vagabond" and "Heretic" are triumphant examples of historical narrative with superb adventure storytelling and sympathetic characters engaged in great struggles of class, character and conscience. Sometimes "dry" on-paper, Cornwell is a magnificent "listen!"

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cjwheeler 05-17-08
    cjwheeler 05-17-08 Member Since 2005

    I love BOOKS and reading, listening is as good when I can't look at the book. I listen every minute driving.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "really enjoyed"

    I read a couple of Bernard Cornwell books many years ago, and as I remember I thought they were alright. I listened to the A.Conan Doyle "The White Company" last month and I really liked it, so I wanted to find another book like it and this is want I came up with.

    I liked this book almost as much and have already downloaded the next in the series, the pale horseman. It really moves and is action packed. It is very discriptive of the battle scenes. I also like the main character Uhtred, very no-nonsence, tough, smart and a little bit lucky.

    I usually only listen to unabridged versions but there is no option on the first two books in this series. That is probably why the story goes so quickly, I can't help but think that I'm really missing a lot of the story

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Burlingame, CA, USA 08-28-06
    Robert Burlingame, CA, USA 08-28-06
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    "Vikings vs. Saxons! Sex, Blood, & Rock N' Roll!!"

    I have known about Bernard Cornwell for quite some time but only when I saw the premise of "The Last Kingdom" did I finally bite: and now I'm addicted!

    This is a real "Guy's Tale": if you loved the film "Braveheart" you'll love "The Last Kingdom". Gory details about the sword & axe battles; the burning & looting of villages; the scams & schemes from both the Danish & the English lords; the kidnapping and enslaving of the defeated. On top of all that the narrator is top-notch and I even laughed out loud at many of the little jokes thrown in between the heavy action!

    I am downloading the 2nd book in this trilogy ASAP: "The Pale Horseman", and I'm thrilled to learn that the final part, "The Lords of The North" has just been released in the U.K. and will be in the USA in early '07!

    Can't wait to hear the next round of blood spilling, gut churning, butt-kicking adventures of Utread Utreadsson!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Butlerville, IN, United States 08-03-05
    Gary Butlerville, IN, United States 08-03-05 Member Since 2001
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    "An Interesting Escape"

    The 9th century is brought to life in this book. The story revolves around a young noblemen who switches his allegiance back and forth between his native England and the invading Danes. Although a short book, it is packed with action and characters. The ancient names are a little tough to keep straight in the beginning, but the author gives you enough clues when he brings them in and out to keep them sorted out. The book has strong male and female characters living in a tough time. You will feel like you have an understanding of what it was like to live then and that there aren't always black and white, good guys and bad guys. I only wish it was longer.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Harris Washington State 02-19-05
    S. Harris Washington State 02-19-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Vikings: Who knew!"

    A young boy experiencing a new and unexpectedly exciting culture made good listening on a short road trip. Never knew Vikings could be so good for an orphaned minor nobleman. The novel certainly offers perspective about honor while providing action aplenty.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Belleville, IL, USA 04-01-10
    David Belleville, IL, USA 04-01-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Why Abridged?"

    This was a good, fast moving story. I also think that the narator did a fantastic job. Especially with the different name pronunciations. He really helped you get into the time period. Unfortunately, I cannot help but feel that there was depth missing from the abridged version. As interesting as the story was, it often felt like just a combination of historical events (true or not.) I am looking forward to the next in the series, though it is abridged also. If it is as good as this, I will really look towards the third in the series, which is the first that Audible offers (at least to me) unabridged. It is interesting though, that before I became a member, it seems that this book is available unabridged. Be that as it may, don't let it discourage you from listening to this book. Bernard Cornwell seems to have a special ability to make history come to life.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 01-25-12
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 01-25-12 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "The Last Kingdom"

    Jamie Glover did a super job narrating this book. I did this series backward and had been looking the first book in the series(The Last Kingdom) for sometime. As soon as I saw that Audible had it I downloaded it. This book and series covers the 866 a.d. in England when the Saxon and Danish were at war for control of all England. Bernard Cornwell is in my opinion, the best writer of battle scenes. He brings the battle to life, you feel as if you are there and can hear, smell and feel the battle raging around you. This series took me to the history books to learn more about this time in history.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Juan Sherman Oaks, CA, USA 01-31-07
    Juan Sherman Oaks, CA, USA 01-31-07
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    "More fun than standing in a shield wall !"

    If you've ever wondered what it might be like to stand in a shield wall with 500 of your closest friends, facing and enemy, that wants you dead...
    Well then you'll enjoy this hot blooded, fun, but serious adventure!
    A real page turner! I laughed out loud a few times along the way! Enjoy!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-10-12
    03-10-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Not Worth a Credit for Abridged Version"

    I enjoyed Jamie Glover's narration and adore Bernard Cornwell's writing. But it's a travesty that abridged versions of these glorious novels are allowed to be created. There isn't a book printed that couldn't benefit from some editing. But half? The Saxon Chronicles are a little over 300 pages long. When they are abridged you get all the battles and little of the character development. So disappointing.

    I listened to Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. They were each about 39 hours long and they were superb. What am I missing? Is there a goal of how many books one can listen to in a certain amount of time? What difference does it make how long a book on tape runs if the goal is to enjoy the story and performance? The longer it runs, the longer you have the pleasure of experiencing the book.

    I'm currently reading the print editions of The Saxon Chronicles and may try the one or two unabridged versions of this series, but will not waste any more credits on the abridged versions.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Chantilly, VA, United States 07-22-05
    Patrick Chantilly, VA, United States 07-22-05 Member Since 2004
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    "Vintage Cornwell"

    If you've liked any of Cornwell's stuff in the past, you'll likely enjoy this one as well. It has many things in common with both the Archer's Tale, and the superior Winter King. In the end, many of Cornwell's themes and plots are similar, but it's certainly a page-turner and (as always) his historical details are top-notch.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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