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Step into the world of “The Last Kingdom” and immerse yourself in an enthralling journey through history and adventure. In this audiobook review, we delve into the masterpiece by Bernard Cornwell, renowned author of historical fiction. From accurate historical depictions to complex characters, “The Last Kingdom” has captured the hearts of readers worldwide and continues to remain a fan favorite.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bernard Cornwell’s “The Last Kingdom” is a must-read for fans of historical fiction.
  • The audiobook narration adds an extra layer of immersive storytelling.
  • With skillful pacing and gripping suspense, “The Last Kingdom” is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
  • The book provides thought-provoking themes and powerful messages that instigate introspection and highlight moral lessons.
  • The overall historical accuracy maintained by Cornwell enhances the immersive experience of the story.

About the Author – Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell is a prolific British author who has made significant contributions to the literary world with his remarkable writing skills. Born in London in 1944, he grew up in poverty and was adopted by a family in Essex at the age of six. Cornwell studied at the University of London before embarking on a career as a journalist. He later moved to the United States, where he continued his career as a newspaper reporter.

Cornwell’s passion for writing historical fiction is evident in his works, which include the Sharpe series, the Saxon Stories series, and other notable works such as “Stonehenge” and “Crackdown.” With the Saxon Stories series, Cornwell has created a captivating world based on the history and culture of the Anglo-Saxons in the 9th and 10th centuries. His works have been translated into multiple languages and have garnered critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide.

Cornwell’s extensive background as a journalist and his deep passion for history and writing have been instrumental in shaping his literary career. His ability to blend fiction with historical facts and his knack for creating memorable characters have made him a favorite among readers of historical fiction.

Cornwell’s Writing Process

Cornwell’s writing style is focused and detail-oriented, with an emphasis on historical accuracy and character development. He often spends months researching historical events and cultures before beginning to write his novels, immersing himself in the world of his characters and the time period in which they lived. This detailed approach to research and writing has helped Cornwell create richly authentic worlds and characters that transport readers to another time and place.

Cornwell’s Literary Contributions

Cornwell’s dedication to his craft and his contributions to the literary world have resulted in numerous awards and accolades over the years. In 2001, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his services to literature. He has also been a New York Times bestselling author and has received critical acclaim for his works, including the Arthur Ellis Award and the Historical Dagger from the Crime Writers’ Association.

Plot Overview

The Last Kingdom plot summary

Set in the late ninth century, The Last Kingdom follows the story of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a young Saxon noble kidnapped and raised by Danes. As he becomes embroiled in the power struggles of Viking warlords and English kingdoms, Uhtred must navigate a treacherous path to reclaim his birthright and honor his loyalty to both his Danish upbringing and his Saxon heritage. Along the way, he forges alliances and battles enemies, all while striving to find his place in a world torn by conflict and change.

The Last Kingdom is a gripping tale that combines history, action, and drama into a compelling narrative that captivates readers from start to finish. With its richly drawn characters, immersive setting, and intricate plot twists, this book is a must-read for anyone looking for an epic adventure through the pages of history.

Historical Accuracy

Bernard Cornwell’s “The Last Kingdom” is a work of historical fiction that takes readers on a thrilling journey through ninth-century England. While historical accuracy is always a concern in the genre, Cornwell maintains a high level of authenticity throughout the narrative. He combines extensive research with his own imagination to create a captivating story that is deeply rooted in history.

Cornwell weaves fictional characters, such as the protagonist Uhtred, into authentic historical events, accurately depicting the political and social landscape of the time. While some characters may be composites or inventions entirely, they are always grounded in the realities of the era.

The result is a perfect blend of fact and fiction that transports readers back in time, providing a window into a crucial period of English history. Cornwell’s dedication to historical accuracy adds an extra layer of authenticity and depth to the story, making it an engrossing read for history enthusiasts and casual readers alike.

Character Development

One of the greatest strengths of “The Last Kingdom” is its character development. Bernard Cornwell masterfully brings his characters to life, captivating readers with their depth and complexity. The protagonist, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, is a prime example of this. Through his journey, we see him grow from a young boy into a skilled warrior, facing challenges and personal struggles that force him to question his loyalties and desires.

Besides the protagonist, the supporting characters in “The Last Kingdom” are equally well-developed. From the brave and loyal Æthelflaed to the treacherous Alfred the Great, each character plays a vital role in the story and has their own distinct personality and motivations. Through their interactions and conflicts, Cornwell weaves a rich and intricate tale that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

The character development in “The Last Kingdom” is not only evident in their actions but also in the way they speak and think. Cornwell uses language to create a sense of authenticity, enabling readers to connect with his characters and empathize with their struggles.

Overall, the character development in “The Last Kingdom” is exceptional, making it a standout work of historical fiction. Whether you’re a fan of medieval history or simply enjoy well-crafted characters, this audiobook is sure to captivate you.

Setting and Atmosphere

Bernard Cornwell’s skillful storytelling transcends the page, immersing listeners in the vividly portrayed settings and atmospheric details of “The Last Kingdom.” From the bustling marketplace of Winchester to the windswept shores of Wessex, every scene is meticulously crafted to transport readers back in time to the historical backdrop against which the story unfolds.

The author masterfully blends historical accuracy with undeniable tension, creating an engrossing atmosphere that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. The immersive quality of this audiobook is enhanced by the expert narration of Jonathan Keeble, whose dynamic voice adds depth and emotion to each character and scene. Whether describing the gritty realities of ninth-century Britain or the bitter rivalries that fuel the plot, Cornwell’s writing style paints a vivid picture that captivates listeners and leaves a lasting impression.

The detailed world-building and atmospheric descriptions in “The Last Kingdom” create a memorable experience for listeners, transporting them back in time to a harsh, unforgiving land filled with adventure and conflict. The setting, atmosphere, and historical backdrop of this masterpiece all combine to form an unforgettable journey through history and the human experience.

Writing Style

Writing Style

Bernard Cornwell’s writing style has been labeled as immersive, engaging, and vivid. From the first page to the last, readers are captivated by the richly detailed narrative that transports them to another world. Cornwell’s writing has often been compared to that of other celebrated historical fiction authors such as Ken Follett and Philippa Gregory, yet his unique voice and approach set him apart.

The author’s attention to detail and meticulous research shine through in his writing, creating a sense of authenticity that pulls readers deeper into the story. Cornwell masterfully blends fact and fiction, creating a seamless and gripping narrative. His writing is both descriptive and concise, allowing readers to visualize each scene and character without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

The narrative pacing is also a hallmark of Cornwell’s writing style. The story unfolds at just the right pace, with moments of high action and tension balanced by quiet, reflective moments. This creates a dynamic and engaging reading experience that keeps readers hooked from beginning to end.

Overall, Bernard Cornwell’s writing style is a key reason why he is widely considered to be one of the greatest historical fiction writers of our time. His narrative mastery, attention to detail, and impeccable pacing keep readers coming back for more.

Audiobook Narration

If you’re looking for the perfect way to revisit “The Last Kingdom,” the expertly narrated audiobook version is not to be missed. The audiobook is voiced by British actor, Jonathan Keeble, whose dynamic range and engaging delivery enhance the overall audio experience.

Keeble’s vocal performance brings an immersive dimension to the story, effectively conveying the emotions and personalities of each character. His command of accents and intonations not only helps differentiate characters from each other but also adds a layer of authenticity to the historical setting. With his voice, he masterfully brings to life the tense battles, political intrigue, and emotional nuances of the story.

Listeners will find themselves fully captivated by Keeble’s talented narration, experiencing the story in a unique and unforgettable way. If you’re a fan of audiobooks, or simply looking for a fresh way to experience the thrilling world of “The Last Kingdom,” then the audiobook narration is an absolute must-try.

Pacing and Suspense

The pacing and suspense in “The Last Kingdom” are skillfully crafted, keeping readers on the edge of their seats, eager to unravel the next twist and turn. Bernard Cornwell masterfully builds tension and maintains a gripping pace throughout the novel, making it difficult to put down. The action sequences and battle scenes are intense and heart-pounding, while the quiet moments are filled with an underlying sense of tension, creating a palpable atmosphere of danger and uncertainty.

The narrative is expertly balanced, keeping readers engaged and invested in the story. Every scene and moment serves to move the plot forward, adding to the overall sense of urgency and intrigue. Cornwell’s writing style contributes to the overall suspense, creating vivid descriptions and vivid characters that readers can’t help but root for.

The Role of Pacing

The pacing of “The Last Kingdom” plays a crucial role in both building suspense and creating a truly immersive experience for readers. The story moves along at a brisk pace, yet never feels rushed or forced. Instead, Cornwell expertly maintains the balance between action and contemplation, using quick bursts of violence and danger to heighten the overall sense of suspense. The pacing expertly builds to the novel’s climactic moments, making the ultimate payoff all the more satisfying.

The Power of Suspense

The suspense in “The Last Kingdom” is palpable, drawing readers in and keeping them invested throughout the novel. The danger feels real and immediate, creating a sense of urgency that makes each page turn all the more thrilling. Cornwell’s deft use of foreshadowing and plot twists only adds to the overall sense of suspense, creating a masterful narrative that keeps readers guessing until the very end.

Themes and Messages

One of the most compelling aspects of “The Last Kingdom” is the powerful themes and messages it conveys. Through the enthralling story and complex characters, author Bernard Cornwell masterfully explores timeless moral lessons that are relevant to readers even today.

One of the key themes in the book is the concept of identity. As the protagonist, Uhtred, grapples with his own identity as a Saxon raised by Danes, readers are forced to question their own sense of self and belonging.

The book also delves into the complexities of loyalty and betrayal. Characters are tested in their allegiances and forced to confront the difficult consequences of their actions, highlighting the difficult decisions that often accompany loyalty.

Another powerful theme is the impact of war and conflict on individuals and communities. Cornwell expertly portrays the physical and emotional toll of war and the lasting scars it leaves on those affected.

Ultimately, through its nuanced exploration of complex themes and moral messages, “The Last Kingdom” leaves readers with a profound appreciation for the human experience and an enduring message of resilience and perseverance.

Reader Reception

Unsurprisingly, “The Last Kingdom” has received overwhelmingly positive reception from readers, cementing its position as a beloved historical fiction audiobook. With an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 on major platforms such as Amazon and Audible, it’s no wonder that readers have taken to social media to express their praise for the book.

Many readers have commented on the exceptional narration by Jonathan Keeble, who brings the characters to life with his expert voice acting. The audio experience adds an extra dimension to the already immersive story, making it a truly gripping listen from start to finish.

“The Last Kingdom” has also garnered a significant following on Goodreads, with thousands of reviews from readers across the globe. The book’s popularity extends beyond just the audiobook format, with fans of Bernard Cornwell’s writing eagerly devouring the entire series.

Sample of Reader Reviews

Review Title Rating (out of 5) Review Excerpt
“Incredible Book” 5 “I couldn’t put this book down. Cornwell’s writing is superb and the story is both thrilling and emotional. Highly recommended!”
“A Must-Read for Historical Fiction Fans” 4 “I was completely captivated by the world that Cornwell has created in this book. The characters are complex and engaging, and the historical accuracy is impressive. Can’t wait to read more in the series!”
“Gripping Audiobook” 5 “The narration by Jonathan Keeble is incredible and really brings the story to life. I found myself listening for hours on end, eager to find out what happens next. Highly recommend the audiobook version!”

Overall, “The Last Kingdom” has created a passionate fanbase among readers of historical fiction, solidifying its position as an unforgettable and enthralling audiobook.


Overall, “The Last Kingdom” by Bernard Cornwell is an exceptional historical fiction audiobook that delivers a captivating story, compelling characters, and an immersive setting. Highly recommended for anyone interested in a thrilling adventure through history.

With expert narration and expertly crafted pacing and suspense, the audiobook version only enhances the already gripping tale. For those seeking an engrossing listening experience, “The Last Kingdom” audiobook comes as a resounding recommendation.

In conclusion, this audiobook promises to entertain and educate listeners, while leaving a lasting impact with its thought-provoking themes and insightful messages. Get ready to be transported to a different era and experience the thrilling journey of Uhtred of Bebbanburg!

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