Previously known as ‘The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories’, The Last Kingdom Series is the tale of Alfred the Great and his descendants through the eyes of Uhtred Ragnarson. More precisely, written by Bernard Cornwell, this series chronicles the emergence of England as a nation on the island of Britain from the actions of King Alfred of Wessex.
If the big events are historically accurate, the story centers on Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a fictional character born to a Saxon lord in Northumbria, but captured and adopted by the Danes. A few years later, his family has been killed by a rival Danes, and Uhtred allies himself with Alfred to win back what’s rightfully his. Destiny is all!
How to read The Last Kingdom Series in order?
The Last Kingdom story is told in chronological order, you can still pick up a novel at random and read a full story with a beginning and an end, but it’s better to start from the first one to understand the main character.
- The Last Kingdom – Uhtred is a dispossessed nobleman who is captured as a child by the Danes and almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He has no love for Alfred, yet when the king of Wessex unexpectedly defeats the Danes, Uhtred is forced to choose sides. Trained to fight and ready to take his place in the shield wall, he mostly wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.
- The Pale Horseman – The Danes had been defeated at Cynuit, but the triumph of the English is not fated to last long. The Danish Vikings quickly invade and occupy three of England’s four kingdoms – and all that remains of the once-proud country is a small piece of marshland, where Alfred and his family live with a few soldiers and retainers, including Uhtred, the dispossessed English nobleman who was raised by the Danes.
- The Lords of the North – After achieving victory at King Alfred’s side, Uhtred of Bebbanburg is returning to his home in the North, finally free of his allegiance to the King. An encounter with a vicious slave trader introduces Uhtred to Guthred, the self-proclaimed King of Northumbria. Curious about Guthred’s astounding claim, Uhtred follows him north.
- Sword Song – England is at peace, divided between the Danish kingdom to the north and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the south. Uhtred has finally settled down. He has land, a wife and two children, and a duty given to him by King Alfred to hold the frontier on the Thames. But then trouble stirs, new Vikings have arrived to occupy the decayed Roman city of London. Their dream is to conquer Wessex, and to do it they need Uhtred’s help.
- The Burning Land – King Alfred of Wessex is in ill health. His enemy having failed to conquer Wessex, now see their chance for victory. Led by the sword of savage warrior Harald Bloodhair, the Viking hordes attack. But Uhtred proves his worth, outwitting Harald and handing the Vikings one of their greatest defeats.
- Death of Kings – England is perched once more on the brink of chaos. King Alfred is dying; with his passing, the island of Britain seems doomed to renewed warfare. Alfred wants his son Edward to succeed him, but there are other Saxon claimants to the throne – as well as ambitious pagan Vikings to the north. With the promise of battle looming again, Uhtred is torn between competing loyalties.
- The Pagan Lord – Alfred the Great is dead and his son Edward reigns as king. Wessex survives but peace cannot hold: the Danes in the north, led by Viking Cnut Longsword, stand ready to invade and will never rest until the emerald crown is theirs. Uhtred must lead a band of outcasts north to recapture his old family home, the impregnable Northumbrian fortress Bebbanburg.
- The Empty Throne – When Æthelred, the ruler of Mercia, dies, he leaves no legitimate heir. The West Saxons want their king, but Uhtred has long supported Æthelflaed, sister to King Edward of Wessex and widow of Æethelred. Widely loved and respected, Æthelflaed has all the makings of a leader – but can Saxon warriors ever accept a woman as their ruler? The stage is set for rivals to fight for the empty throne.
- Warriors of the Storm – A fragile peace reigns in Wessex, Mercia, and East Anglia. King Alfred’s son Edward and formidable daughter, Aethelflaed, rule the kingdoms. But all around the restless Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy churches, are mounting raids. Uhtred of Bebbanburg controls northern Mercia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces are gathering against him.
- The Flame Bearer – Northumbria’s Viking ruler, Sigtryggr, and Mercia’s Saxon Queen Aethelflaed have agreed on a truce. And Uhtred of Bebbanburg has the chance to take back the home his traitorous uncle stole from him so many years ago – and which his scheming cousin still occupies. But fate is inexorable and the enemies Uhtred has made and the oaths he has sworn combine to distract him from his dream of recapturing Bebbanburg. New enemies enter into the fight for England’s kingdoms
- War of the Wolf – While Uhtred might have regained his family’s fortress, it seems that a peaceful life is not to be – as he is under threat from both an old enemy and a new foe. The old enemy comes from Wessex where a dynastic struggle will determine who will be the next king. And the new foe is Sköll, a Norseman, whose ambition is to be King of Northumbria and who leads a frightening army of wolf-warriors, men who fight half-crazed in the belief that they are indeed wolves.
- Sword of Kings – It is a time of political turmoil once more as the fading King Edward begins to lose control over his successors and their supporters. There are two potential heirs-possibly more-and doubt over whether the once separate states of Wessex and Mercia will hold together. Despite attempts at pulling him into the political fray, Uhtred of Bebbanburg cares solely about his beloved Northumbria. But an oath is a strong, almost sacred commitment and such a promise had been exchanged between Uhtred and Aethelstan, his onetime companion in arms and now a potential king.
- War Lord – The epic conclusion. England is under attack. Chaos reigns. Northumbria, the last kingdom, is threatened by armies from all sides, by land and sea – and only one man stands in their way. Torn between loyalty and sworn oaths, the warrior king Lord Uhtred of Bebbanburg faces his greatest ever battle – and prepares for his ultimate fate…
Destiny is all!
- Uhtred’s Feast – The final Last Kingdom book was published in 2020, but for the author the story felt unfinished: there were some Uhtred tales he still wanted to tell, and throughout writing the books he’d become fascinated by some elements of the Anglo-Saxon world that it wasn’t possible to fully explore in the novels. When he met renowned chef Suzanne Pollak, the idea for Uhtred’s Feast was born. And here Bernard Cornwell tells those additional Uhtred stories, showing us the man behind the shield – as a young boy, as Alfred’s advisor, and as prince – while Suzanne brings his world to life through beautifully crafted recipes that open a door into the Anglo-Saxon home . . .
If you like The Last Kingdom reading order, you may want to take a look at the other famous historical series from Bernard Cornwell, the popular Richard Sharpe series.