History is an infinite source of ideas for authors and now, are becoming series that has people glued to their small screen. Netflix didn’t waste time and jumped on Bernard Cornwell’s work of The Saxon Stories and called it, The Last Kingdom.
The Summary of The Saxon Stories
The Last Kingdom a gothic historical story must start somewhere and here is the summary.
The Saxon Stories is a historical novel series written by Bernard Cornwell about the history of Anglo-Saxon England in the ninth and tenth centuries.
The protagonist of the series is Uhtred of Bebbanburg, born to a Saxon lord in Northumbria, but captured and adopted by the Danes. — Wikipedia
The Last Kingdom
While the series’ name is The Last Kingdom, that is only the title of one of the books in the series. As of now, I cannot compare the novels to the show, but I can say I’m waiting for the first one in the mail!
The series follows the books well according to the summary of the Saxon. Uhtred is the main focus of the show, but his life is also the result of external obstacles he faces continually in an unforgiving era.
Uhtred lost everything, twice, and it is heartbreaking to see how life was cruel back then. The 800s and 900s were by far the harshest on people of the north of Europe. The Vikings spreading, curious and ready to take their place before someone would force them down left kingdoms of England wondering if they would live to see another day.
Just remember, before choosing who you cheer for either England or the Vikings, that in those days there was only one rule: eat or be eaten.
A Gothic Story
The Last Kingdom is a gothic historical story that starts with the Gothic era of the Dark Ages is the setting of the series, and we see how people lived. The Romanesque vision you have? Throw it out the window! You witness the darkness people carried with them and the ugly face of what it was to live on the island of Britain.
The visual of the series gives the perfect ambiance for what history depicts of the Dark Ages in those landmarks. The often usage of fog and mist, gloomy skies, and colder days are ideal for the story.
England separated in quite a few kingdoms faces its most considerable fall to the ruthless Danes. The Danes have the advantage of sailing and bringing more men, but their fear is to lose men’s power. Because of their “godless” ways, no English approaches them, but one can help, and his name is Uhtred.
In many movies or series, we see a fictional romantic view of the Middle Ages, but the other name of that era is Dark Ages. There is a reason, and it isn’t just because of the bubonic plague.
Human history reached a stagnant point in its evolution in the 800s. The preaching of the Catholic Church spread and took roots in England. Dwellers go through the conversion despite some resisting the teaching of the Church.
The Last Kingdom shows the conflict between two visions. The one uniting everyone under one god and the other, motivated by nature and many figures. While both are only trying to survive and conquer, they cannot see eye to eye and refuse to listen to one another.
The historical facts in The Last Kingdom – a gothic historical story are various. The character of Uhtred is historical, based on Uhtred The Bold, but because there is a lack of documentation, some liberties are at work. King Alfred The Great was king in Wessex in the time period, and so were quite a few Danes mentioned.
The Last Story
After watching the first season of The Last Kingdom and starting the second one, I can say it pulls you in quite easily. The desire to know more about the way history played out is tangible.
Each character has a story to tell and a part to play. Nothing is left to chance. Uhtred wants what he is owed, and he brings you on his journey to find how he can achieve his goal.
Uhtred earned his place in my heart because I know that in his shoes, I would often act and say the same. I’d roll my eyes just as often as he does. He is impulsive, but he learns, and his relationship with both Saxon people and Danes is admirable.
What we learn about the Saxon is the importance the Church had in the people’s hearts. Religion was especially crucial to Alfred, who became king without a kingly father who had a son. But, Alfred was a wise and intelligent man, highly educated and gave importance to knowledge and writing. Something the true heir didn’t understand at first.
Meanwhile, we also see the ugly face of the Church. Go on, say, “well, of course!” but one has to understand that god is not the Church. Faith is not a building or anything material for that matter, and that series shows it well. By seeing what people went through when forced receive forgiveness from the king and the Church, Uhtred is who I support.
King Alfred prays often, monks and brothers, priests and bishops are everywhere and influential. Uhtred, because of his knowledge and warrior skills, scares the Church. However, nothing can shake Alfred’s faith in god and his knowledge. Alfred is wiser than most.
Also, on a side note, do not judge the Saxon by their faith because it is all they knew back then. Teachings passed on from generation to generation without anything else to confront it for years. Fear of what was outside the Church terrified them, even Uhtred.
The Gothic era is one I love even though watching The Last Kingdom breaks my heart. I wish people had it easier back then and could enjoy life without fear, but that wouldn’t be as Gothic, would it?
The Danes didn’t disrespect the Church as much as they wanted to understand what made this one god so strong. They desired to know how their faith was so unshakable that they would call upon their god as often as they did.
See, that’s what made the Vikings so strong in that era of history. Their curiosity and will to go a step further had them ask questions and question everything. One character goes as far as calling written scrolls, “the Saxon magic.” That is because he knew that somehow writing had to be the Saxon way to learn.
The Last Kingdom is a kingdom story about opposite attraction. Not too long before this story takes place, England was pagan itself and now rejecting other pagans, i.e., Danes. The Last Kingdom is a gothic historical story mixed in with fiction in a most impressive way.
The Gothic Story
Uhtred saw both sides of the coin, living as a Catholic and a Pagan. He knows much about both ways, and to be honest. I don’t know if he believes in anything.
The Gothic story of The Last Kingdom is one magnificent work of history with fictional interaction. Historical characters mixed in with fictional ones bringing one story to life, the making of England.
I’m French-Mohawk, so I’m not going to lie and say that I felt heartbroken when Danes humbled England, but I did cry a few times. No one deserves to live in fear their entire life or fight to keep their homeland.
My Thoughts On The Last Kingdom
If you are a fan of the on-going show of Vikings, of course, you will enjoy The Last Kingdom. However, I am not a fan of Vikings, and yet, The Last Kingdom is becoming one of my favorite series of all times.
The reason for me loving the show is simple, history, Dark Ages, conflict, and war to build a home and an empire. I am curious to know how it all began and how it ended. The Last Kingdom is as accurate as a historical show can be, and that suffices for me.
On a side note, if you are a fan of Assassin’s Creed for the historical part, it brings to the table, from an A.C. fan to another, watch it. You won’t regret it!