The Last Kingdom BBC series, based on the Cornwell books


#81

The books are written with an eye to the historical, incorporating real people, places, battles and other events into a story that centers around a fictitious character whose circumstances lead him to end up in the service of Alfred the Great fighting mostly against the Danes. Like all of Cornwell’s works, there is obviously a lot of research that goes into making everything seem fairly accurate for the setting. With the TV show they seem to be doing a decent job of carrying that over, but as with any TV/movie, they’re going to sacrifice some historical accuracy for the sake of moving the show along at a decent pace (i.e. travel seems faster than it should, characters form the books are switched/combined/eliminated to make things simpler, battles are smaller in scale and scope, etc.).

Overall though it is a very good television adaptation of an excellent series of books, so I would recommend both highly.


#82

Very nice - Thank you! I don’t mind the dramatic licenses, as long as I can more or less count on the major historical events more or less happening as written.

I’ll write these up on my Kindle wishlist :-)


#83

I am 3/4 done with the first book and enjoying it.


#84

Yeah, I started it yesterday and am having a good pulpy time with it in much the same vein as Ken Follet’s books from the same (roughly, give or take a couple of centuries) period.

Surprised at how faithful the series was to the main bits of the story, too.


#85

The stories attempt to be faithfully as accurate where possible; Cornwell also goes through the historicity of each book at the end to show where he diverges from known history or where he takes a few liberties. Because records can be scanty he notes where he needs to fill in the blanks. Make no mistake though it’s a treasure going through these because it’s a period that isn’t really discussed much and it’s completely fascinating. There’s not really much in the way of magic, though there is some in soothsaying/fortune telling I suppose which is the extent of it.

— Alan


#86

I really enjoyed Saxon Tales and devoured the series. The latest one (9th) was released yesterday in the USA.

I also enjoyed the Arthurian series. It has an interesting re-imagining of the legends.

I know Cornwell is famous for his Sharpe series, but I couldn’t keep going. That milieu just didn’t interest me. The Archer/Holy grail series is also weak. Yeah yeah, I get it, longbows are OP.


#87

Not a lot of news coming out about the second season yet, though the BBC announced last week that the series is now being co-produced by Netflix.

— Alan


#88

Just to clear up, apparently BBC America is out as a co-producer and Netflix is taking its place. Season 1 will appear on Netflix later this year and the second season will apparently be dropped on Netflix exclusively in the US, and BBC2 in the UK (not sure of the timing however) I think in early 2017.

— Alan


#89

That’s great news? Presumably this means real money for the development team.


#90

Interesting, in Australia we’ve had S1 on Netflix for several months now, that’s where we watched it.


#91

It’s hard to say if it does mean more money. When Netflix took over Longmire, I remember the creators being asked if they were working with a better budget and they declined to answer, though they did talk about how they had to adjust to using a lot more (ie. better) technology, which kind of shows off in the production of the show for the fourth season.

That being said, I thought the budget for The Last Kingdom was pretty good to begin with.

— Alan


#92

Yeah The production design is one of my favorite part. But hey if they are going to upgrade I hope they include more shield walls.


#93

That certainly makes sense.


#94

Thanks to all the recommendations in this thread, I binge watched the entire first season on a single (!) sick day. Overall, I really liked it and am looking forward to the next season!

Some random observations (minor spoilers ahead):
Lift your arms above your head. Now imagine you had Uhtred’ sword sheathed in a scabbard on your back. Do you think you could draw it? In one motion? Didn’t think so, which is why I hope that, one day, film makers are going to stop with this nonsense. If you pay attention to it, you’ll notice that they have always cut the sword drawing scenes at exactly the right moment, so as to hide this.

Staying with sword-topics for the moment: Characters regularly touch the edges of swords and knives with their bare hands. Were blades at the time really that dull? Using the same blades, they are chopping limbs off at ease, so that doesn’t really add up to me. Hell, I wouldn’t even touch my kitchen knife that way…

I like the seasoned and weathered look of a lot of the characters, Skorpa and the Thanes in particular are badass. Uhtred however? He doesn’t look properly medieval to me. Just like Jon Snow for that matter…

I totally dig the fashion and props used in this series. I also like how Roman architecture and buildings are perceived as way superior to everything built in their own time, which only seems appropriate.

The battle scenes and the overall narrative were compelling. The character development, though, didn’t really draw me in. A lot of the pivotal moments (e.g. the death of Uhtred’s son, Brida’s miscarriage) didn’t really have that much of an emotional impact on me. Nor did it affect the characters overly much. Uhtred especially seems blissfully resilient to everything life throws at him. The best emotional scene, to me, was King Alfred and his struggles with his wife and son.

The disastrously low survival rate of the main and support cast in this series. Good lord! Didn’t quite anticipate that! No wonder the character development does not come off as quite convincing, given such short life expectancies…

Definitely a fun watch! Might even consider taking up the books, as they are probably quite different…


#95

Good point about drawing a sword from the back. I liked how, in comparison. Legolas in Kingdom of Heaven does carry the sword on his back at his entrance to Jerusalem , but that is just for convenience,and when he is drawing it, he has the sheath in front of him instead, having taken the sword off from his back.


#96

— Alan


#97

Finally learned this was on Netflix and binged on it. Really looking forward to Season 2. Have not read the Saxon book series that this was based on or any of Cornwell’s others but will be looking to change that. It’s no Game of Thrones but it’s miles better than Vikings… and I enjoyed Vikings.


#98

It’s not being really advertised well, but Season 2 will air in the UK on Season 2 starting on March 16. Because BBC America pulled out of production, to be ostensibly replaced by Netflix, and since Netflix currently carries Season 1, you’d think it’d also appear on Netflix in the US, but there’s no direct indication of when it’ll show up since there will not be a cable broadcast here. So it’s a little confusing at the moment.

— Alan


#99

On one hand I can’t wait for season 2, on the other hand I thought I would have more time and was hoping to be done with book 4 before season 2 came out, but I just finished book 1.


#100

— Alan