The Last Kingdom books are something for Outlander fans to read
The Last Kingdom is a great series on Netflix, but it’s also an even better book series. It is our Droughtlander book suggestion of the week.
Many Outlander fans have already likely checked out the TV series based on the books. Have you given the books a read, though? If not, this is your chance to do so. There’s plenty of time to get through them.
The books, written by Bernard Cornwell, as a series have been through many names. They’re best known as The Saxon Chronicles rather than The Last Kingdom books. They are all told from Uhtred’s point of view, starting with him as a boy to a grown man. It’s not an easy life he has lived, all set in the late 800s, so centuries before Outlander‘s time period.
While the show is also great, this post is just about the books. We’ll come back to the show in a later Droughtlander suggestions piece.
What are The Last Kingdom books about?
The Saxon Chronicles tell the story of Uhtred, a Saxon raised as a Dane. When he was young, he was sold as a slave to the Danes, where he ended up finding a family he never realized he needed.
However, while he tries to find a balance between the two worlds, he has one goal in mind. He wants to get his birthright back, the ancestral home stolen by his uncle. To do that, he needs some help, but there’s always something that stops him from succeeding.
There are 12 books currently written. Cornwell is working on the 13th, set to be published later this year. This is supposed to be the last in the series. Of course, never say never, but Cornwell tends to be good at finishing up a series. This is the man behind the “Sharpe” books.
You’ve certainly got plenty to read while you get through Droughtlander!
Why read The Last Kingdom as an Outlander fan?
This isn’t a story like Outlander at all. Uhtred is nothing like Jamie.
In fact, I tend to like Uhtred more. He has grown as a person throughout the books. We start off with him as a child and then a teenager. His view of life has been skewed by the events that have happened to him at such an impressionable age. The people he’s had to look up to are those who should have been his enemies.
Uhtred has to figure out a way to walk a fine line between life as a Saxon and a Dane. He doesn’t always make the right choices, but he always tries to follow what he believes is right. And if he makes an oath to someone, he’s going to follow through with it. That can often lead to him being on the opposite side of his family.
There are other characters we become attached to along the way. There’s a chance to get to know a fellow Saxon slave, Brida. We learn a little about Ragnar and his son Ragnar the Younger. And there’s the priest Beocca, who is very much like a Murtagh for Uhtred. We can’t forget about Uhtred’s friends, too, those who will put their lives on the line for their lord and don’t care about differing beliefs.
We also have characters from real history. King Alfred and his children, Ubbe, mentions of Ivar and Halfdan, and so many more. You don’t need to know your history—and some of it is slightly adapted for the fictional elements—but you will find yourself intrigued by the Viking way of life and England of the past in the way Outlander brings out the need to learn more about Scotland.
The books are also well written. They have detail but not too much detail, the way that I find some of the Outlander books can go into. One book in The Saxon Chronicles will likely be read in a couple of days compared to the weeks it can take for Diana Gabaldon’s books. They’re still great rereads and you will notice things you didn’t before.
What are you reading to get through Droughtlander? What do you think should be on our radar? Share in the comments below.
The Last Kingdom books are available with two-day free shipping with Amazon Prime.