The Last Kingdom Quotes

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The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1) The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
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The Last Kingdom Quotes Showing 1-30 of 80
“Destiny is all, Ravn liked to tell me, destiny is everything. He would even say it in English, “Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“The preachers tell us that pride is a great sin, but the preachers are wrong. Pride makes a man, it drives him, it is the shield wall around his reputation... Men die, they said, but reputation does not die.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“King Edmund of East Anglia is now remembered as a saint, as one of those blessed souls who live forever in the shadow of God. Or so the priests tell me. In heaven, they say, the saints occupy a privileged place, living on the high platform of God’s great hall where they spend their time singing God’s praises. Forever. Just singing. Beocca always told me that it would be an ecstatic existence, but to me it seems very dull. The Danes reckon their dead warriors are carried to Valhalla, the corpse hall of Odin, where they spend their days fighting and their nights feasting and swiving, and I dare not tell the priests that this seems a far better way to endure the afterlife than singing to the sound of golden harps. I once asked a bishop whether there were any women in heaven. “Of course there are, my lord,” he answered, happy that I was taking an interest in doctrine. “Many of the most blessed saints are women.”

“I mean women we can hump, bishop.”

He said he would pray for me. Perhaps he did.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“A leader leads,” Ragnar said, “and you can’t ask men to risk death if you’re not willing to risk it yourself.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“What happens to you, Uhtred, is what you make happen. You will grow, you will learn the sword, you will learn the way of the shield wall, you will learn the oar, you will give honor to the gods, and then you will use what you have learned to make your life good or bad.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“All those separate people were a part of my life, strings strung on the frame of Uhtred, and though they were separate they affected one another and together they would make the music of my life.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“Laughter in battle. That was what Ragnar had taught me, to take joy from the fight.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“We are all lonely and all seek a hand to hold in the darkness. It is not the harp, but the hand that plays it.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“Our ancestors,” he went on after a while, “took this land. They took it and made it and held it. We do not give up what our ancestors gave us. They came across the sea and they fought here, and they built here and they’re buried here. This is our land, mixed with our blood, strengthened with our bone. Ours!” He was angry, but he was often angry. He glowered at me, as if wondering whether I was strong enough to hold this land of Northumbria that our ancestors had won with sword and spear and blood and slaughter.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“You will not fight in the shield wall,” my father said.
“No, Father.”
“Only men can stand in the shield wall,” he said, “but you will watch, you will learn, and you will discover that the most dangerous stroke is not the sword or ax that you can see, but the one you cannot see, the blade that comes beneath the shields to bite your ankles.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“The poets, when they speak of war, talk of the shield wall, they talk of the spears and arrows flying, of the blade beating on the shield, of the heroes who fall and the spoils of the victors, but I was to discover that war was really about food. About feeding men and horses. About finding food. The army that eats wins.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“Only the gods tell him what to do, and you should beware of men who take their orders from the gods.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“Start your killers young, before their consciences are grown. Start them young and they will be lethal.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“I have learned that it is one thing to kill in battle, to send a brave man's soul to the corpse hall of the gods, but quite another to take a helpless man's life...”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“Were the Romans Christians?” I asked him, remembering my curiosity at the Roman farm. “Not always,” Ravn said. “They had their own gods once, but they gave them up to become Christians and after that they knew nothing but defeat.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“I had the arrogant confidence of a man born to battle. I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred, son of another Uhtred, and we had not held Bebbanburg and its lands by whimpering at altars. We are warriors.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“I liked those tales. They were better than my stepmother’s stories of Cuthbert’s miracles. Christians, it seemed to me, were forever weeping and I did not think Woden’s worshippers cried much.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“I had no idea what I was speaking of, but only knew I must sound confident. Fear might work on a man, but confidence fights against fear. Odda”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“There is a thing called the blood feud. All societies have them, even the West Saxons have them, despite their vaunted piety. Kill a member of my family and I shall kill one of yours, and so it goes on, generation after generation or until one family is all dead, and Kjartan had just wished a blood feud on himself. I did not know how, I did not know where, I could not know when, but I would revenge Ragnar. I swore it that night.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“Arrows of insight have to be winged by the feathers of speculation.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“I was screaming and hitting at him, but he thought it all so very funny, and he draped me belly down on the saddle in front of him and then he spurred into the chaos to continue the killing.
And that was how I met Ragnar, Ragnar the Fearless, my brother’s killer, and the man whose head was supposed to grace a pole on Bebbanburg’s ramparts, Earl Ragnar.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“These word-stringers make nothing, grow nothing, kill no enemies, catch no fish, and raise no cattle. They just take silver in exchange for words, which are free anyway. It is a clever trick, but in truth they are about as much use as priests.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“And next morning, as my stepmother wept on the ramparts of the High Gate, and under a blue, clean sky, we rode to war. Two hundred and fifty men went south, following our banner of the wolf’s head.
That was in the year 867, and it was the first time I ever went to war.
And I have never ceased.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“I had learned to hide my soul, or perhaps I was confused. Northumbrian or Dane? Which was I? What did I want to be?”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred, and this is the tale of a blood feud. It is a tale of how I will take from my enemy what the law says is mine. And it is the tale of a woman and of her father, a king.
He was my king and all that I have I owe to him. The food that I eat, the hall where I live, and the swords of my men, all came from Alfred, my king, who hated me.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“It was an unsettling thought, that somehow we were sliding back into the smoky dark and that never again would man make something so perfect as this small building.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“I think only one man in three is a warrior, and sometimes not even that many, but in our army, Uhtred, every man is a fighter. If you do not want to be a warrior you stay home in Denmark. You till the soil, herd sheep, fish the sea, but you do not take to the ships and become a fighter. But here in England? Every man is forced to the fight, yet only one in three or maybe only one in four has the belly for it. The rest are farmers who just want to run. We are wolves fighting sheep.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“Forward now. Forward to battle slaughter. Beware the man who loves battle. Ravn had told me that only one man in three or perhaps one man in four is a real warrior and the rest are reluctant fighters, but I was to learn that only one man in twenty is a lover of battle. Such men were the most dangerous, the most skillful, the ones who reaped the souls, and the ones to fear. I was such a one, and that day, beside the river where the blood flowed into the rising tide, and beside the burning boats, I let Serpent-Breath sing her song of death. I remember little except a rage, an exultation, a massacre. This was the moment the skalds celebrate, the heart of the battle that leads to victory, and the courage had gone from those Danes in a heartbeat.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“Gods fight, Ragnar went on earnestly, and some win, some lose. The Christian god is losing. Otherwise why would we be here? Why would we be winning? The gods reward us if we give them respect, but the Christian god doesn't help his people, does he? They weep rivers of tears for him, they pray to him, they give him their silver, & we come along & slaughter them! Their god is pathetic. If he had any real power then we wouldn't be here, would we?”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom
“An army, I learned in time, needs a head. It needs one man to lead it, but give an army two leaders and you halve its strength.”
Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom

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