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The epic conclusion to the globally bestselling historical series.

After years fighting to reclaim his rightful home, Uhtred of Bebbanburg has returned to Northumbria. With his loyal band of warriors and a new woman by his side, his household is secure – yet Uhtred is far from safe. Beyond the walls of his impregnable fortress, a battle for power rages.

To the south, King Æthelstan has unified the three kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia – and now eyes a bigger prize. To the north, King Constantine and other Scottish and Irish leaders seek to extend their borders and expand their dominion.

Caught in the eye of the storm is Uhtred. Threatened and bribed by all sides, he faces an impossible choice: stay out of the struggle, risking his freedom, or throw himself into the cauldron of war and the most terrible battle Britain has ever experienced. Only fate can decide the outcome.

The epic story of how England was made concludes in WAR LORD, the magnificent finale to the Last Kingdom series.

333 pages, Hardcover

First published October 15, 2020

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About the author

Bernard Cornwell

332 books16.1k followers
Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother, who was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his birth mother's maiden name, Cornwell.

Cornwell was sent away to Monkton Combe School, attended the University of London, and after graduating, worked as a teacher. He attempted to enlist in the British armed services at least three times but was rejected on the grounds of myopia.

He then joined BBC's Nationwide and was promoted to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland. He then joined Thames Television as editor of Thames News. He relocated to the United States in 1980 after marrying an American. Unable to get a green card, he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit.

As a child, Cornwell loved the novels of C.S. Forester, chronicling the adventures of fictional British naval officer Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic Wars, and was surprised to find there were no such novels following Lord Wellington's campaign on land. Motivated by the need to support himself in the U.S. through writing, Cornwell decided to write such a series. He named his chief protagonist Richard Sharpe, a rifleman involved in most major battles of the Peninsular War.

Cornwell wanted to start the series with the Siege of Badajoz but decided instead to start with a couple of "warm-up" novels. These were Sharpe's Eagle and Sharpe's Gold, both published in 1981. Sharpe's Eagle was picked up by a publisher, and Cornwell got a three-book deal. He went on to tell the story of Badajoz in his third Sharpe novel, Sharpe's Company, published in 1982.

Cornwell and wife Judy co-wrote a series of novels, published under the pseudonym "Susannah Kells". These were A Crowning Mercy, published in 1983, Fallen Angels in 1984, and Coat of Arms (aka The Aristocrats) in 1986. (Cornwell's strict Protestant upbringing informed the background of A Crowning Mercy, which took place during the English Civil War.) In 1987, he also published Redcoat, an American Revolutionary War novel set in Philadelphia during its 1777 occupation by the British.

After publishing eight books in his ongoing Sharpe series, Cornwell was approached by a production company interested in adapting them for television. The producers asked him to write a prequel to give them a starting point to the series. They also requested that the story feature a large role for Spanish characters to secure co-funding from Spain. The result was Sharpe’s Rifles, published in 1987, and a series of Sharpe television films staring Sean Bean.

A series of contemporary thrillers with sailing as a background and common themes followed: Wildtrack published in 1988, Sea Lord (aka Killer's Wake) in 1989, Crackdown in 1990, Stormchild in 1991, and Scoundrel, a political thriller, in 1992.

In June 2006, Cornwell was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's 80th Birthday Honours List.

Cornwell's latest work, Azincourt, was released in the UK in October 2008. The protagonist is an archer who participates in the Battle of Agincourt, another devastating defeat suffered by the French in the Hundred Years War. However, Cornwell has stated that it will not be about Thomas of Hookton from The Grail Quest or any of his relatives.

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5 stars
7,554 (67%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,025 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
663 reviews41.1k followers
December 27, 2021
4.5/5 stars

It’s over. I finally finished The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell, and it was an impressive conclusion.

It was one of my goals to begin and finish The Last Kingdom series. I’ve made it my goal to read one book within this series per month; I read two books in January, and by following this schedule, I should be done with the series by December. And here we are. I’ve finished all thirteen books in the series, and despite several issues I have with the series, I must admit that this conclusion was satisfying. It made the journey worthwhile.

War Lord is the final book in The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell, and it depicted the first forming of England in history and Uthred’s role in its creation. Uthred is once again, surprising absolutely no one, caught in the eye of the storm and conflict in the battle for England. Every side wanted Uthred to fight for them, and Uthred has the option to stay out of the struggle or join the battle. Guess which one he chose? He didn’t earn the title War Lord for nothing. So in a way, this is again another repetitive storytelling formula used by Cornwell to conclude the series.

But unlike Sword of Kings, which I complained a lot about, despite its formulaic storytelling structure and outcome, War Lord has a sense of progression in the story and characters. I mean, this is the final book in the series, and Cornwell can’t write another filler installment anymore, and I’m thankful for it. Having some of my beloved supporting characters in the series made a return one last time to conclude the series made a huge difference; it felt like I was reading the great first half of the series again. Not only does Cornwell often neglect to mention these characters, but his tendency to kill his characters offscreen—one of my biggest issues with the series—has led me to think that these supporting characters won’t appear again. I’m so glad to be proven wrong. The character’s motivations suddenly felt more real again, and the character’s interactions and the passing of time felt more believable.

I don’t have anything left to say. If you take a look at my reviews on the second half of the series, you’ll notice just how repetitive my review throughout the series is, but can you blame me? I don’t think anyone can write a spoiler-free review for each book in the series without repeating themselves constantly. I know for a fact that many readers don’t even know which book tells which story anymore because they blend in with one another so much. I honestly think this series would’ve been more amazing if it’s re-edited to end at the eighth or, at most, tenth installment. But that’s just me, and seeing the immensely high average ratings for the series, I’m sure I’m on the unpopular opinion side with these thoughts.

Overall, War Lord is a satisfying and exciting final book to conclude Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series. I personally think that The Warlord Chronicles trilogy by Cornwell is a superior series in comparison. Also, many people have asked me whether they should watch the TV show adaptation or read the books, and despite War Lord being the best installment of the series, I still honestly prefer the TV show adaptation over the books, and that’s what I’d recommend if you have to choose. Goodbye, Uthred. The journey isn’t all smooth, but I definitely will miss your voice.

Destiny is all.

Series review:

The Last Kingdom: 4/5 stars
The Pale Horseman: 4/5 stars
The Lords of the North: 3.5/5 stars
Sword Song: 4/5 stars
The Burning Land: 4/5 stars
Death of Kings: 4/5 stars
The Pagan Lord: 3/5 stars
The Empty Throne: 4/5 stars
Warriors of the Storm: 4/5 stars
The Flame Bearer: 3/5 stars
War of the Wolf: 4/5 stars
Sword of Kings: 1.5/5 stars
War Lord: 4.5/5 stars

The Last Kingdom: 47.5/65 stars

You can order this book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Element, Ellen, Ellis, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Jennifer, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Neeraja, Nicholas, Oliver, ReignBro, Reno, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.
Profile Image for Thomas.
710 reviews171 followers
September 10, 2021
4 stars for the last book in the Saxon Stories. In this book, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, fights at the Battle of Brunanburh. The author believes that this significant battle laid the foundation for modern England. While Uhtred is a fictional character, there was an actual battle at this site. Athelstan, monarch of the kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia, defeated an army led by Anlaf Guthfrithson, King of Dyflin in Ireland, and by Constantine of Scotland. They were joined by the men of Strath Clota, by the Norse warriors of what are now the Orkneys and the Hebrides, and by sympathetic Norseman of Nothrumbria.
This is evidently the last book in the series, and like my Goodreads friend Rob, I am sad to see it end. Cornwell writes such vivid battle scenes that is as if you have a front row seat.
I read this library book in 3 days.
Uhtred was being raised as a Christian, until he was 8. But his father was killed in a Viking raid, and his father's killer took a liking to Uhtred and adopted him. So Uhtred believes in Norse gods.
Two quotes: Uhtred; "We look for omens. Even Christians search the world for such signs. We watch the flight of birds, fear the fall of a branch, look for the wind's pattern on water, draw breath at a vixen's cry, and touch our amulets when a harp string snaps, but omens are hard to read unless the gods decide to make their message plain."
Conversation between Uhtred and a priest: "Swithun opened the small box reverently. 'It is the toenail of Lazarus, whom our Lord rose from the dead."
"I'll swear it on your toenails, " I said, "but you won't believe a pagan's oath so I wonder why you bothered to come at all?"
Profile Image for Bill.
892 reviews160 followers
October 25, 2020
While War Lord may not be the best entry in Bernard Cornwell's Last Kingdom series it is still a strong novel.
As always there are epic battles, excellent characters and even a touch of humour here and there. After 13 wonderful stories, brilliantly mixing fact and fiction, I will very much miss the adventures of Uhtred of Bebbanburg. However, I knew that it had to end one day. After all, Wyrd bio ful araed.
Profile Image for Rachael.
143 reviews88 followers
July 12, 2022
I’m not ashamed to admit… I fell in love with The Last Kingdom show on Netflix. Alexander Dreymon. Need I say more? But after devouring the first few seasons, I realized I had to read the book series, because the book is ALWAYS better.

I listened to this entire series via audiobook, and although I wish they all had the same narrator (to pronounce things properly and consistently), I still adored this amazing series.

From the first chapter Uhtred, Son of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, commanded my attention. A young Saxon boy, raised by Danish Vikings, grows to love his lively Pagan upbringing and yet still respects the training and order of the Saxons.

It’s difficult to describe all of my favorite aspects of Uhtred’s journey. But overall the importance of honor, dedication to family, loyalty, and retribution are a few. Not to mention the incredible cast of side characters, especially Finan, Leofric, Steapa, Ragnar, Gisela, Stiorra, and Bernadetta. This is historical fiction at it’s best, and at times I thought I was reading fantasy because of the elements of Norse and Celtic mythology, and the way it’s just so beautifully written. It should go without saying, Bernard Cornwell’s battle scenes are extraordinary. I still get goosebumps and probably always will, whenever I hear or think of a “SHIELD WALL!”

Not to be dramatic, but finally finishing this series feels like I’ve closed a chapter in my life and almost like I lost a family member. Hands down, another all time favorite series. I might even need to buy a Thor’s hammer necklace, in honor of Uhtred.

“Wyrd bið ful āræd. Fate is inexorable.”
Profile Image for Murray.
Author 146 books456 followers
February 14, 2023
the battle that created England

⚔️ I binged on the Netflix series last fall, my sword bright in the dawn, but then discovered the producers of The Last Kingdom had used volumes 1-10 primarily, but not 11, 12 or 13, so now here I am, sword drawn once again, to read the story to its ultimate conclusion.

⚔️Before the battle that is the climax of War Lord, what is now England was still divided into several kingdoms. The 10th century battle dramatized here ended the era of the separate kingdoms and made England one country. The battle Cornwell describes is huge.

⚔️In that respect the brutality in the text matches the fighting brutality you see in the Netflix show. The shock is that suddenly our hero is not in his 20s 30s 40s or even 50s, but in his 60s or 70s, yet still fit and well-muscled and roaring like a Lion.

⚔️What I did miss was fiery romance. None of that here.

⚔️A fast-paced tale. Too much reliance on he growled he snarled he growled he snarled he growled he snarled. That’s what happens when you have so much to write. Cheers, Mr. Cornwell!🍻
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,712 reviews636 followers
June 22, 2021
When I post my review, I will give five stars. The five stars are for an amazing series. Cornwell (as you will read) has known from the start what he wanted to accomplish with these historical novels and he has achieve a visceral experience of what it must have been to live in that place during those events that led (not inevitably) to the creation of England.

From the start Bernard Cornwell
- has shown a sure hand with the voice of his protagonist, Uhtred of Bebbanburg;
- has dug through the bits and pieces of chronicles to weave a coherent narrative of this period;
- channels the natures of the various peoples and their leaders into dialogue that just pops with wit and passion;
- provides understandable motivation for a host of characters;
- does not give all the good lines to Uhtred but makes him age in his speech and thoughts that explain his insights and his blind spots and his cognitive challenges;
- provides (for me) the perfect companion to Uhtred in Finan who is loyal and fierce and full of humor and life; and,
- gives the audio book a rare extra dimension that make for rapt listening

"“Are you a king?” I asked.
He laughed. “I am Ravn,” he said, “and once I was an earl and a warrior, but now I am blind so I am no use to anyone. They should beat me over the head with a cudgel and send me on my way to the nether-world.”
I said nothing to that because I did not know what to say.
“But I try to be useful,” Ravn went on, his hands groping for bread. “I speak your language and the language of the Britons and the tongue of the Wends and the speech of the Frisians and that of the Franks. Language is now my trade, boy, because I have become a skald.”
“A skald?”
“A scop, you would call me. A poet, a weaver of dreams, a man who makes glory from nothing and dazzles you with its making. And my job now is to tell this day’s tale in such a way that men will never forget our great deeds.”"


Many of us who have followed this massive and engaging saga have wondered how it would conclude. Cornwell has placed Bebbanberg between two giant ambitions, that of a newly constituted Christian south and the ambitious King of Scotland to the north. Northumbria is the grist between two mill wheels and Bebbanberg is the key to either side’s success. How will Uhtred be able to survive?

This book is a clash of Kings (five, six or seven depending on how you count them) and Uhtred is at his best and worst as he frantically tries to outrun the “fate” that he believes will take all he has worked to achieve. Each of the Kings wants something of him and offers something to him. Can he trust any of them? His experience tells him not to. Can any alliance not put him and his precious Bebbanberg at risk from the others? It is only by going back over the previous books that I can understand the warp and the woof that Cornwell had established from the start when all the remaining Saxons came within a hair’s breadth of becoming vassals of the Norse and Danes.

I have read all the books and listened to most of the audio books. This one has the familiar reader, Matt Bates, and Bernard Cornwell provides some additonal remarks. The audio books do add an extra dimension with very keen presentations of the various personalities: wise, stupid, vicious, fearful, etc.

You must judge whether this was the point to which Cornwell should have brought us. As for me, I am content, happy and amazed at this epic.

As a final note, I will leave you with this wonderful quote from The Last Kingdom:

"These days, so long after that battle at Cynuit, I employ a harpist. He is an old Welshman, blind, but very skillful, and he often sings tales of his ancestors.
He likes to sing of Arthur and Guinevere, of how Arthur slaughtered the English, but he takes care not to let me hear those songs, instead praising me and my battles with outrageous flattery by singing the words of my poets who describe me as Uhtred Strong-Sword or Uhtred Death-Giver or Uhtred the Beneficent.
I sometimes see the old blind man smiling to himself as his hands pluck the strings and I have more sympathy with his skepticism than I do with the poets who are a pack of sniveling sycophants."

It’s been a long journey:
The Last Kingdom
The Pale Horseman
The Lords of the North
Sword Song
The Burning Land
Death of Kings
The Pagan Lord
The Empty Throne
Warriors of the Storm
The Flame Bearer
War of the Wolf
Sword of Kings
War Lord

But a very enlightening one. Cornwell deserves the 5 star rating for this series, one that brings the full measure of England’s emergence from a clash of Danes, Franks, Saxons, Celts, Norse, Scots and the Irish. A tremendous vision, well executed.
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews103 followers
March 27, 2021
Book 13 and the last book in the Last kingdom series published 2020.

This could only be 5 stars.

This was a thrilling conclusion to a highly memorable series.

Right from the start when Uhtred was still a very young boy and he was captured by the Vikings, a prisoner to begin with, but soon to be the adopted son of one of their most powerful War Lords, Uhtred has had only one driving obsession and that was to take back his ancestral home of Bebbanburg from his lying, thieving uncle.
Now many years later his fight is how to maintain his independence in Northumbria from King Æthelstan who also has an obsession and that is to see his grandfather’s dream of an united England come true.
But the Scots to the north also have their eyes set on making Northumbria their own.
So Uhtred now finds himself being the meat in the sandwich. There is an army of Scots descending from the north and a Saxon army ascending from the south both armies with one purpose only, to make Northumbria their own.
Being nobodies fool Uhtred knows there is no way he can face two over whelming armies and come out the winner. He has to choose a side to align with but no matter which way he goes he realises that his home of Bebbanberg and his country of Northumbria will truly never be his again.
So here I am again standing side by side with Uhtred and Finan a they fight their last fight for all the wrong reasons.

So last but not least my thanks go to the author Bernard Cornwell for educating and thrilling me for the last sixteen years, 2004 to 2020. It’s been one hell of a journey.

Highly recommended
397 reviews20 followers
May 10, 2022
This is an other great book in this series. I recommend all of this authors works.
Profile Image for Sarah Mazza.
Author 5 books102 followers
March 3, 2021
I thought I would be sad when the Saxon Stories came to an end. It is the only series where I eagerly waited for the next release every December. This conclusion was so satisfying that I don’t even mind that such a beautiful thing has concluded, mostly because I know I will reread this series again and again and it will never truly be over.

Mostly, I love the way that Uhtred has changed and grown over the years/books, from a landless and arrogant young man, into a warlord and leader that is more wise than impulsive. His strength and unyielding mindset stay with him the entire way.

The plotline in each of these books is very clever, with unexpected surprises along the way, and this final installment is no different. Bernard Cornwell managed to wrap up the series in a brilliant way, actually drawing a couple of tears from me at one point. I look forward to starting the series from the beginning, and enjoying each stage in Uhtred’s life all over again.
Profile Image for Javir11.
519 reviews150 followers
December 11, 2022

Pues por fin llegó el final de esta saga épica que me ha acompañado y entretenido los últimos 12-14 años. Cuando me adentré en ella nunca pensé que este iba a ser un viaje tan largo y que a pesar de su argumento algo repetitivo, la iba a disfrutar tanto. Gracias a Bernard Cornwell y al gran Uhtred de Bebbanburg, siempre tendréis un hueco dentro de mi corazoncito lector.

Con respecto a la novela en sí, pues lo cierto es que la he disfrutado bastante, supongo que ser consciente de que iba a ser la última, ha hecho que la apreciara más y no quisiera que el final llegara, pero como todo en la vida llegó.

Lo que más me ha gustado de ella es ver a un Uhtred más maduro y por fin consciente de su edad, un anciano para aquella época, rehuyendo la batalla y los muros de escudos, con temor y respeto a una muerte a la que ha esquivado tantas veces. Es algo que en algunas novelas he echado en falta, un protagonista más humano y menos super heroico. La trama a pesar de sus vaivenes me ha gustado y me ha parecido mejor trabajada que novelas anteriores, esta todo muy bien hilvanado para el cenit final. Los personajes están muy bien en general, tanto los más protagonistas, Finnan también te echaré de menos, como los más secundarios, ha sido genial volver a saber del gran Steapa. El desenlace cumplió mis expectativas, repleto de acción y con una gran batalla bien narrada, en eso Cornwell es un maestro, y que no se hizo demasiado larga.

En el aspecto negativo, la verdad es que hay poco que decir, si noté algo destacable para mal, mi vena sentimental lo enterró detrás de un muro de escudos, y como Uhtred, ya estoy mayor para meterme en jaleos de ese estilo.

Resumiendo, final de una saga sobre como se creo Inglaterra, escrita por un tipo que no será el mejor escritor del mundo, pero que sabe contar historias repletas de acción y que además domina como pocos la historia británica. Recomendable si te gusta la novela histórica y quieres descubrir un periodo bastante desconocido en general.
Profile Image for Clemens Schoonderwoert.
1,073 reviews76 followers
November 20, 2020
This fantastic novel is the 13th and final instalment of the amazing "The Last Kingdom" series, from the acclaimed author, Bernard Cornwell.

At the beginning of the book you'll find a List of Place Names concerning this historical tale, and a well-drawn map of Northumbria and its surrounding countries, and those countries will play a magnificent part, especially Northumbria, in this terrific story.

At the back of the book you'll notice an Author's Note and Historical Note, where the historical details concerning this cracking story a superbly documented and explained by the author.

Story-telling is as ever of a top-notch quality from this author, the atmosphere, living conditions, and hostile surroundings in and out of Northumbria come superbly off the pages, while all characters, whether real historical or wonderful fictional, come vividly to life within this wonderful tale about history in the making.

The book is divided into three parts, and we find ourselves at the hand of our protagonist, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, beginning with the year AD 924 and that will finally end until the year AD 937.

In part one everything is set for the confrontation to come, and where all parties are searching for allies and enemies for the ultimate prize that is Northumbria, and all that in an effort to establish the strengths and weaknesses of each adversary, and those parties are, King Athelstan of Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia, assisted by Uhtred of Bebbanburg and his Wolves, and King Hywel of Dyfed, against his counterpart King Constantine of Alba (Scotland), assisted by forces from Strath Clota, King Anlaf of Dyflin and several other mercenaries from the Hebrides and Orkney Islands.

What will follow in parts two and three is a gripping and thrilling historical story, with loyalty, backstabbing, fame, disaster, political intrigue and the ultimate glory at the final great battle at Brunanburh in AD 937, the place where it will be decided whether King Athelstan, with the immense help of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, can finally establish his grandfather's ultimate goal, being the creation of one Englaland.

Highly recommended, for this is an excellent finale of a fantastic series in which we say goodbye to Uhtred of Bebbanburg and his Wolves, and to highlight this fact I would like to call this last episode as: "A Fabulous Conclusion Towards Creation Eng(la)land"!
Profile Image for Ace.
430 reviews23 followers
October 23, 2020
How to write this without spoilers? Well I guess you can't change history, but you can certainly jazz it up. Bernard Cornwell is simply a gifted storyteller and with his mighty Parker-Serpent Breath-Pen he has shaped these chronicles to bring us the bravest and the cleverest sword wielding hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

This series been the highlight of my reading year over the last decade or so. I have eagerly awaited each instalment and am always enthralled when I finally read it. I will admit to shedding a few tears this morning and am grateful to both Uhtred and Mr Cornwell for bringing me such reading excitement and pleasure.

5 stars of course.
Profile Image for Uhtred.
253 reviews11 followers
January 27, 2023
I can't believe it's all over. I have read the thirteenth and final book of the Uhtred saga. How sad I am…..
How sad I am to know that I won't read more of his adventurous life, of his amazing deeds. That I will no longer imagine waving his wolf-headed war banner; that I won't see him use Wasp Sting or Serpent Breath again. Of course, I will be able to re-read his books, but now I can only imagine him on the ramparts of Bebbanburg as he scans the sea, knowing that England is now born and that it will no longer be necessary for him to fight in shield walls. In this last chapter of his story, Uhtred is an old warrior (perhaps in his fifties?) but he fights his last battle like a true Viking, with his Mjiollnir around his neck. Finan, the Irishman, has always been with him, for many seasons now, and everything takes place as usual in Cornwell's books, that is, there are phases of explanation, phases of real life, phases of bloody battle. So, everything as expected, no disappointments. Uhtred is a certainty. It seems like yesterday when I met him as a child, when his father was killed by the Danish Vikings and he was kidnapped by them. Who raised him as a real Viking, making him what he has become. The story of Uhtred, who is obviously a fictional character, intertwines with the true story of the birth of England, with the story of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, and his ambition to unite all English speakers in one kingdom.
Uhtred was the son of a Saxon lord who ruled from the fortress of Bebbanburg in Northumbria. Danish Vikings killed his father when he was a small boy of 6 or 7 years old. The lord of the Vikings, Ragnar the Fearless, was amused when the child attacked him with a small wooden sword and recognizing in him the soul of a warrior, he took the boy with him and raised him as one of his own children. Uhtred therefore grows pagan, together with Thor, Odin, the Norns and all the other elements of the Viking cosmogony. In all the books of the saga there is the famous phrase that has become his motto, i.e. "Wyrd bið ful āræd" ("Fate is inexorable").
When he is an adult, fate leads him to serve Alfred the Great, whom he respects but not esteem, to help him fight to unify England. Uhtred thus finds himself saving Alfred's Christian kingdom of Wessex from the Danish Vikings, despite the fact that he feels more Danish than Saxon.
However, Uhtred's main objective remains that of reconquering Bebbanburg, which in the meantime had been taken by his uncle, an odious man, and in short, the whole saga revolves around these two great objectives, the unification of England and the reconquest of Bebbanburg. Really a beautiful saga, masterfully written and full of mythical characters, first of all of course Uhtred. Five stars, only because I can't give six.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,062 reviews200 followers
October 31, 2020
This is actually a 10 star read for me. I am heartbroken that it is the last book of the series but what an amazing finish. Cornwall gave us such a fitting end that tied the series together beautifully. The Last Kingdom, the first book in the series, had one of my favorite scenes in a book ever. Alfred the Great and Uhtred held a small piece of a marsh and it was all that was left of England as we know it now. How they fought their way way out just captivated my imagination. This book ties back to that scene and what Alfred's grandson was able to accomplish.

Uhtred is old now (maybe 50) and has achieved his life's ambition of taking back the family fortress of Bebbanburg (no spoiler- it was in the last book). He is content to live out his days at home with his lady and old friends. But Aethelstan, Alfred's grandson, has other ambitions and Uhtred is drawn back into the fray. The story culminates at the Battle of Brunanburh. At first I thought Cornwall made it up because it was so good and tied up so many loose ends. But no, it is a real battle and Cornwall is such a brilliant writer of historical fiction that he made his story fit into historical accuracy. Why the Battle of Brunanburh is not a national holiday is beyond me. Without this battle there would be no England and yet it is largely unheralded. It's a shame.

This entire series has been a real history lesson for me. I knew nothing about this time period and I have learned so much. It has been a real eye opener. Historical authors should read this series about how to write really good historical fiction. It is a masters class in writing. If you have not read this series then do yourself a favor and start reading. You will not be disappointed.

I can not thank NetGalley enough for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and delighted review. Mostly I want to thank Bernard Cornwell for giving me such a wonderful series and a great character of Uhtred. Thank you.
Profile Image for Andy.
414 reviews67 followers
April 22, 2021
Back-to-back Last in the series reads……

Before I start I must say this is a series ive mostly enjoyed although I do feel its been over long after the grand adventure & excitement of the opening books. I also feel that after Alfred exited, the series lost a great character (as a foil) for Uhtred. So although I will miss the series I think it’s not before time that we come to the end…..

Aftermath…… It all came together in the end, as we knew it would one day, with King Athelstan of Wessex, Mercia & East Anglia moving to bring Northumberland into the fold to create England as we still know it. This book brings all the main players to the table be they the Welsh, the Scots, the Vikings in Cumbria, More Norse in Ireland the Orkneys & York, King Athelstan & finally Uhtred himself who controlled the piece that everyone desired, that of the fortress of Bebbanburg.

Not going to go into any detail…… have to say I found it decidedly ordinary, which means standard fare/formulae for a book in this series where perhaps I was expecting summit different, or out of the ordinary for the finale which we certainly didn’t get. In that I was disappointed. It did though give a satisfactory conclusion to the series but when I think back on the series as a whole, this book could have come a lot sooner for sure but I guess the author had waaaaaay too much fun with Uhtred & jus didn’t want to let go…..

3.5 stars jus rounded upto a four, the whole series I’d weigh in with a solid four which was balanced on a lot of earlier books being straight 5’s whilst the later hitting the 3’s for the most part.
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews344 followers
July 12, 2021
War Lord is the final triumphant book in the series and it isn’t a spoiler to say that Uhtred ends it sitting victorious in his beloved castle of Bebbanburg. Since the very first novel, we have known that he would live to the close; he is an old man from that first moment, narrating the story of his life. So in a very real way, we readers are like Uhtred’s men; we know what is coming, but we are transfixed anyway. Cornwell’s strength as an author is building a world so realistic, and characters so real, that even armed with the knowledge we have, the suspense never really goes away.
War Lord concerns the build up to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937AD, and of course the battle itself. Brunanburh was a battle that was for many generations after called The Great Battle, until memory faded and until very recently, historians haven’t even been sure where the battle actually took place. What is fascinating about the Brunanburh is that the battle really defined the countries that still exist today: England, Scotland and Wales. It is an incredibly important piece of history that was all but forgotten. Cornwell has always been leading up to Brunanburh with his Uhtred story; from the very first mentions of a united England made by King Alfred back in the earliest books, it was always going to come to this.

War Lord is, of all 13 volumes, the most heavy on the battle content; much of the plot involves getting all of the pieces into place for Brunanburh, and admittedly that can weigh quite heavily at times. There have always been a lot of names in the series, but this time round there felt like even more who were key to have a handle on. All of this came at the expense of some of the character moments that have really defined Uhtred and his companions. The moments we do see –such as Uhtred and his ever faithful Finan discussing old age or Uhtred’s defence of his little ward –are great, and I wish there could have been more of them. Uhtred hasn’t gone soft in his old age, but he has softened, and if War Lord is lacking one thing, it’s a bit more of the personal.

Cornwell’s grasp of the history, and the way he blends it into his novels, has always been his strength. The period of time that this series covers, with War Lord ending in 938, is one that is neglected in British history lessons, and by creators in general. Schools would have you believe that the Romans left and then nothing happened in the vast expanse of time before William the Conqueror turned up in 1066. What books like War Lord, and authors like Cornwell do, is show us that there is a lot we don’t know.

Profile Image for Adam Lofthouse.
Author 6 books36 followers
October 31, 2020
Well, that's that then.

For thirteen books Bernard Cornwell has brought to life the making of England. Fourteen years ago this was a period in history barely touched by historical fiction writers, and now there are countless telling stories set in Saxon Britain, this is entirely down to this series.

Uhtred of Bebbenburg is such an engrossing character. From the scared child thrust into the life of the Northmen, to the hard and weather beaten old warrior he has become. It has been enthralling to watch him grow as a character, to see him fight not always for what he wants, but for what or who he believes in.

These books seem to lose their way for a while, somewhere in the middle, but the last two have been a reminder as to just how good they have been as a whole, and why they remain so popular. I for one am gutted that this is the last one, there will never be another quite like Uhtred, son of Uhtred.
Profile Image for Markus.
470 reviews1,517 followers
September 6, 2021
An acceptable but sadly mediocre ending to a series that could have been perfected by ending three books ago. I understand the wish to complete the story of England's formation, but in the end it is the story of Uhtred which made the Saxon Stories what they are, and that story was drawn out with 15 final years crammed into three unnecessary sequels. I could not take my mind off how much better it would all have been if book 10 had simply concluded with an extended narrated epilogue from Uhtred's perspective, concisely detailing his experience of his final years.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,875 reviews8 followers
December 3, 2020
This is book #13 in the Saxon Stories series, but the series is now sporting a new name, which is now called The Last Kingdom series. This book is also the very last book in this series, so I am in a little mourning right now because I have LOVED, LOVED this series. It has been a great series that leaves me wanting more. I highly recommend this type of historical fiction. It was worth the read.

The MC, Uhtred, is such a dynamic character. I liked that he was constantly trying to rise to meet his responsibilities and oaths, but he also didn't think twice about whatever it took to see that happen, even if it wasn't a good thing.

I also loved the humor. There are so many things about this series that I loved. I have even binge watched the series on Netflix twice. Also worth doing. So 4 stars for this final installment.
Profile Image for Lucia.
732 reviews798 followers
Want to read
May 5, 2020
Final book in my favorite historical series. We all know what's coming...or do we not? I can't wait to find out!
Profile Image for Brittany.
841 reviews111 followers
May 2, 2022
5 Stars ✨

“The waves give us rhythm, I thought, an endless sound that rises and falls. I had been born to that sound and soon I must die. I touched my hammer amulet and prayed that I would die to the sound of Bebbanburg’s waves and to the cry of her gulls.”

Well, it’s finally time to say goodbye to this beloved series and it’s characters. I regret nothing. Cornwells writing is phenomenal and magical , no one will ever write battle scenes like him. This book, no matter it’s content - could only be 5 stars for me. With that being said, this was a thrilling ending and didn’t disappoint . I was very impressed with the way things ended, and only crying happy tears.

I can’t do this review without mentioning Benedetta , what a savage little Italian she turned out to be, she brought a freshness in the last two books of the series and a comedic relief in serious moments. I was so proud of Uthred for making peace with certain things. I will thoroughly miss the banter between Him and his band of warriors. (Especially Finan)

If you like Vikings, shield walls, epic battle scenes, and enjoy a main character driven story with amazing side characters, I highly recommend this series. After 13 books these characters became like family and will forever be ingrained in my mind. I also learned so much while enjoying the stories. My hat goes off to the author and his literary sorcery. I will genuinely miss this world and everything in it.

Destiny is All! ⚔️🛡
Profile Image for Amanda Hupe.
953 reviews54 followers
November 21, 2020
Thank you, Bernard Cornwell, HarperCollins Publishers, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book!

I am not okay. This is the definition of bittersweet. I love the Saxon Stories series more than words can say and War Lord by Bernard Cornwell is the 13th and final book. POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD if you have not read the previous books! Uhtred is an old man now, but he has reclaimed his home and just wants to live his days at Bebbanburg and not be bothered by kings, earls, and lords. Aethelstan is King over Mercia, East Anglia, and Wessex but wants what his grandfather, Alfred the Great wanted: a united Britain–And King Aethelstan would be, Monarchus Totius Brittaniae. That presents trouble. King Constantine of Scotland has allies and they ride from the North. Uhtred must now be dragged into another decisive war to protect his family and his home. The Battle of Brunanburh is inevitable…

“Wyrd bið ful aræd”

My emotions were slaughtered before I even started the book. Bernard Cornwell dedicated the book to Alexander Dreymon, the actor who portrays Uhtred in The Last Kingdom. It is not often that an author portrays that kind of appreciation to those involved in their adaptations.

As for the book itself, it could not have had a more perfect conclusion. This series is about the making of a United Britain and it concludes with the decisive Battle of Brunanburh. There are poems and legends of this battle and I love that Bernard Cornwell’s intense historical research brought it to life. The battle itself is a quarter of the book… WHICH IS FANTASTIC. So many historical fictions give a brief description of the battle then move onto the political aspects. Not this book. This book shows all the terror, the courage, the blood, and the death that occurred. It will make you feel as if you are there. It is impossible to stop reading during the last 75% of the book because no one is safe.

Once again, the characters are just masterful. Bernard Cornwell knows how to bring historical figures to life while making fictional characters as real as possible. I love that Egill Skallagrimsson is a huge presence in this book because it is well-documented that he fought alongside Aethelstan. As always Uhtred and Finan are favorites. They are old men now and get reminded that they are no longer in their prime, which is difficult for warriors. (Does that stop them? Of course not.) But I can’t write this review without discussing Benedetta, Uhtred’s partner. She is perfect for Uhtred and after his heart was broken after the death of Gisela…he deserves a good woman. Plus, SHE IS FIERCE. I wish I could get a spinoff story of Benedetta!

This will be a series I revisit over and over. I am not ready to let it go. This series finale gets ALL THE STARS. Thank you, Bernard Cornwell, for a wonderful series! This book is available on November 24th!
Profile Image for Kathy.
3,301 reviews173 followers
November 24, 2020
A favorite series, a favorite character in Lord Uhtred, a talented author equals one exciting read.
Action in this book leads up to The Battle of Brunanburgh of 937. The alliance of so many coming against Athelstan is portrayed in blood, oaths, dreams, prayers and human suffering. It also defined England.
Fans of Uhtred will not be disappointed.

Library Loan
Profile Image for Tamara.
179 reviews
March 30, 2022
A great ending to a great series. I will miss Uthred and many other characters from these books. I'm glad Cornwell gave closure to some of Uthred's issues. Sad too.
Wyrd bið ful aræd.
October 15, 2020
Bernard Cornwell's legendary creation, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, returns for the 13th and final novel in The Last Kingdom series. What a ride it has been. This is such an excellent series, so much so, it was adapted by the BBC for television and is about to start filming its fifth season. I am such a fan.

‘It's coming, and what I should do is raise the ramparts of Bebbanburg and shut out the whole damned world.' He grunted at that. 'And you think the world will leave us alone?'

Cornwell is a master storyteller and sadly states, this is the final instalment in the legendary Uhtred’s journey. However, I can happily say it was a most fitting finale to what has been an epic tale. From the very beginning it has revolved around Uhtred’s great love for his home of Bebbanburg and in this final instalment with Aethelstan fighting to unite all the kingdoms into Englaland and the Scots invading from the North, Bebbanburg and Uhtread find themselves right in the middle.

‘I drew Serpent-Breath. I was angry, not with Kolfinn, nor even with Guthfrith, but with myself for not recognising what was so damned obvious. There was Englaland, almost formed, there was Alba, with its ambition to rule still more territory, and between them was Northumbria, neither pagan nor Christian, neither Scottish nor Ænglisc, and soon it must be one or the other. Which meant I had to fight whether I wanted to or not.’

Outside of the Tudors I did not know that much about English history. I have enjoyed every step along the way as initially Alfred began with a vision of a united England. Uhtred is, of course, fictional however so much of the rest of the story contains fabulous historical research. Cornwell’s notes at the end of every story are a revelation in themselves as his merging of fact and fiction is seamless.

Cornwell is a fabulous writer, he has a legion of followers and to write 13 books in one series of this calibre is astounding. Fans will be happy with the characters - some old friends and some new faces. There is the usual action (how I will miss my shield wall!) and the total immersion in Uhtred’s world. Gosh! It has been a wonderful journey. I cannot recommend enough for you to spend some time with this pagan war lord, he may be getting old and finding it harder to fight but he is ‘Uhtred, son of Uhtred’ and will forever be a force to reckon with on any battlefield.

‘He's risen above me. He's King of Britain and I'm old and irrelevant. He wants a new Britain dominated by Englaland and I'm a small pagan stone in his royal Christian shoe.' 'So what will you do?'

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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