The Last Kingdom is the first book in The Saxon Stories.
In the middle years of the ninth-century, the fierce Danes stormed onto British soil, hungry for spoils and conquest. Kingdom after kingdom fell to the ruthless invaders until but one realm remained. And suddenly the fate of all England—and the course of history—depended upon one man, one king.
From New York Times bestselling storyteller, Bernard Cornwell, comes a rousing epic adventure of courage, treachery, duty, devotion, majesty, love, and battle as seen through the eyes of a young warrior who straddled two worlds.
Osbert is 9 years old and the second son of Ealdorman Uhtred, Lord of Bebbanburg in Northumbria. Danes raid Bebbanburg and Ealdorman Uhtred's first son, also called Uhtred, is killed and his body desecrated after he is sent out to scout the raiders. Osbert is now the oldest son of Ealdorman Uhtred and is re-christened Uhtred.
Ealdorman Uhtred seeks to avenge his son's death, but is killed during the failed attack on Eoferwic (York) and Uhtred is captured by the Danish Earl, Ragnar the Fearless. Ragnar, intrigued and amused by the boy's attempted attack on him during the battle, retains him in his household as a thrall. Uhtred's uncle, Ælfric, takes Bebbanburg and the title of Ealdorman for himself, although Uhtred is the rightful heir.
Uhtred describes his life among the Danes, moving to the country with Ragnar and his men, working like a slave and fighting with other boys, slaves and Danes alike. Uhtred befriends Ragnar's youngest son Rorik and has many clashes with one boy in particular, Sven, son of Kjartan, a shipmaster in Ragnar's small fleet. One day, Sven kidnaps Ragnar's daughter, Thyra, and removes part of her clothing in an effort to sexually assault her. Uhtred charges Sven from hiding, taking Sven's sword and attacking him with it. Uhtred, Rorik, and Thyra escape back to Ragnar's hall. Ragnar, offended and deeply angry, banishes Kjartan from his service, and crushes one of Sven's eyes with the hilt of his sword - adding darkly that he would have crushed both, had Sven stripped Thyra completely naked.
Uhtred then goes viking across East Anglia, and participates in the conquests of Mercia and East Anglia, and the invasion of Wessex. He is kidnapped by a priest, Beocca, an old family friend. He then escapes from Wessex and joins his adopted father Ragnar again. Uhtred enjoys life with the Danes but flees after Kjartan kills Ragnar in revenge, burning down his hall with his former lord inside after kidnapping Thyra.
Uhtred hopes to escape Kjartan's assassins by spreading the rumor that he too died in the hall-burning. Uhtred then joins King Alfred in Wessex. There he learns to read and write, and sails with Alfred's fleet of 12 ships against the Danes. After a battle with the Danes he again meets Ragnar the Younger, Earl Ragnar's eldest son, and tells him how his father died and that Thyra is still alive. They part friends, swearing that one day they will band together to take revenge on Kjartan and rescue Thyra.
Seeking to take command of the fleet, Uhtred gains it on the condition that he marry the orphaned Wessex girl Mildrith, whose family is ruinously in debt to the Church. After doing so, he takes part in a siege against Guthrum, and is among a group of hostages exchanged when the Danes and Saxons agree on peace. Staying with the Danes in the city over winter he again meets Ragnar, who saves him from death when Guthrum breaks the peace and murders the other Saxon hostages. Uhtred then escapes to find his wife. She was taken by Odda the Younger, another Wessex ealdorman (earl or noble), to the north. There he fights in the Battle of Cynwit, where Uhtred finds himself fighting against Ubba Lothbrokson's Danes.
|Uhtred of Bebbanburg||12||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Ivar the Boneless||4||✘||✔||✔||✔||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘|
|Ragnar the Younger||1||✘||✘||✘||✘||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘|
|Earl Sidroc the Older||1||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘|
|Earl Sidroc the Younger||1||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘|
|Æthelwulf of Berkshire||1||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✔||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘||✘|
- Siege of Eoferwic (866)
- Battle of Gainsborough
- Siege of Nottingham (868)
- Battle of the Wash
- Revolt of Northumbria (869)
- Battle of Reading (871)
- Battle of Ashdown
- Battle of Frampton
- Battle of Hamptun
- Battle of Heilincigae
- Siege of Wareham