I have a confession to make… I have never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones. I wouldn’t mind watching it, but I just haven’t. Now one thing that I have really really enjoyed is the BBC’s The Last Kingdom. I love a bit of historical fiction and the best way I can describe The Last Kingdom is Game of Thrones… but real history, which makes it even more interesting. Also in Britain we have so much history it is impossible to know all of it. That is why The Last Kingdom is so compelling, I don’t know what is going to happen, I wasn’t taught this in my school history lessons.
The series is based on Bernell Cornwall’s novels The Saxon Stories set in late 9th century AD when Anglo Saxon lands are eventually attacked, plundered and ruled by invading Viking Danes. The protagonist is Uhtred of Bebbanburg (played by German actor Alexander Dreymon who provides some serious eye candy). In the first episode Uhtred is a boy and is heir to Bebbanburg. His Father the King is then murdered by the invading Danes and Uhtred is then adopted and raised a Dane. When Uhtred then enters a river as a boy and then emerges as a seriously hot adult buff topless man who is able to rock the whole fashionable beard and man bun thing. Being raised as a Dane he is able to pull off the wearing fur and weilding a sword look (I wonder if the costume department also used IKEA fur rugs like they did in Game of Thrones?). Describing the story is difficult as it is a bit complicated, hence why I recommend watching this. But basically the Dane Vikings seem to attack, plunder and rule most of the different kingdoms that make up ancient England apart from one Kingdom, Wessex (hence… that Last Kingdom) and Uhtred eventually ends up there and is able to use his Danish skills help the King of Wessex (Alfred, who later becomes Alfred the Great) against other groups of Danes. He is constantly conflicted as he chooses between a kingdom that shares his ancestry and the people of his upbringing. His loyalties are constantly tested.
An interesting portrayal of a time in history we don’t know much about. It is good to see it brought to life. Quite often in the past BBC Anglo Saxon’y TV dramas seem a bit budget and everyone just looks a bit miserable and dirty and battle scenes lack real drama but The Last Kingdom is really well put together. It is not for the faint hearted. The first episode shows just how brutal an invasion by the Vikings was as you see a young Uhtred talking to an elderly man whilst his fellow Anglo Saxons are being strung up in the background. What is compelling about this series is you don’t know where the story is going to take you, you also have no idea who is going to live or die. The second series was as good as the first. I hope they make a third series.