The Last Kingdom is an incredibly popular book series that was first written and published by Bernard Cornwell in 2004. Originally known as The Saxon Stories, since the release of the Netflix adaptation, the series has adopted that as the series name.
Due to the success of the Netflix adaptation, The Last Kingdom book series has seen a huge spike in popularity, and even though it was released quite a while ago now, new fans keep discovering the series every single day.
If you are interested in picking up The Last Kingdom series for yourself but you don’t know what order to read the books in, then you have come to the right place!
Not only are we going to show you the right order to read the books, but we are also going to give you a brief overview of each novel. So let’s get started!
About The Last Kingdom Book Series By Bernard Cornwell
The Last Kingdom book series by Bernard Cornwell is a historical novel series that is set in the 9th and 10th centuries and it documents the Birth of England through the eyes of Uhtred of Bebbanburg.
Uhtred, who is born to a Saxon lord in Northumbria is captured as a child by invading Danes and he is raised as one of their own. The inspiration for Uhtred’s character comes from the real-life historical figure Uhtred the Bold, of whom Cornwell is a descendant.
The story starts with all of England being invaded by the Danes, with only Wessex remaining as the last English Kingdom.
The King of Wessex, Alfred the Great, rallies his troops and begins a very long struggle to unite all the English-speaking kingdoms against the Danes. Uhtred, despite his differences, fights to make sure that Alfred’s dreams are met.
The series explores many themes such as manhood and coming of age, as the reader witnesses Uhtred grow from an inexperienced boy into a battle-hardened man, and the series also deals with the differences between the Christian and pagan cultures, and how Uhtred tries to balance the two in himself.
If you are a fan of relatively historically-accurate fiction, then you will love this series.
Bernard Cornwell has a great way of writing, especially battle scenes, and he thoroughly researches all the source material to create an immersive and full world, set in the late 9th and early 10th centuries.
The Last Kingdom Books In Order
The first book in the series, The Last Kingdom begins in England in the 9th century. The Danes are swiftly invading more and more of England, with only one kingdom remaining: Wessex.
The reader is then introduced to Uhtred, a young Saxon boy who is the second son of a Saxon Lord. After the Danes invade his ancestral home, they capture Uhtred and raise him as one of their own.
By the time Northmen begin their assault on Wessex, the last territory that England has that belongs to King Alfred, Uhtred almost considers himself to be a Dane rather than an Englishman.
He has absolutely no love for Alfred and thinks he is weak in comparison to the Danes. But when Alfred’s forces defeat the Danes and the Danes turn on Uhtred, he finally has to choose which side he is truly on.
At this point in his life, he is a young man, and he is in love, and more than anything, he wants to reclaim his father’s land – the mystical fort of Bebbanburg, which is next to the northern sea.
- Great world-building and descriptive writing.
- The writing style is similar to epic poetry and is done really well.
- Considering it is fiction, the historical aspects are very well-researched.
- The characters in the first book are a bit two-dimensional.
Following the events of The Last Kingdom, Uhtred is bored with the peace between Alfred and the Danish king Guthrum.
He decides to go raiding in Cornwall and comes across a settlement that is ruled by the British king Peredur, and the king hires Uhtred and his men to fight an invading Danish force led by Svein of the White Horse.
However, Uhtred and Svein team up to kill Peredur, and invade his settlement, and Uhtred claims his wife, the shadow queen Iseult. While all of this is going on, a monk in Perdur’s court named Asser witnesses the betrayal and flees to Dyfed in Wealas.
Uhtred is summoned by The Witan to answer to King Alfred in Cippanhamm for his actions. He is accused of using the king’s ship to invade the settlement that was at peace with Wessex, which he found out from Asser.
He is also accused of things he didn’t do, and the only way to settle the issue is for Uhtred to fight to the death with warrior Steapa Snotor. The duel is cut short, and Uhtred and some other men must flee.
They eventually reach Athelney, and they discover that King Alfred is with them. Uhtred has no choice but to become Alfred’s bodyguard while they hide out in the swamp.
- Uhtred’s character is a lot more developed in this novel.
- The descriptions of the battles are top quality and very well done.
- A bit lackluster in comparison to the first book.
After the events of The Pale Horseman, the year is now 878. Uhtred has helped the Saxons of Wessex finally defeat the Danes, and he is finally free of his allegiance to the ungrateful King Alfred.
With no more debts to pay, Uhtred returns home to rescue his stepsister from the Kjartan the Cruel: a strong warrior who is living in the Danish stronghold of Dunholm.
Uhtred’s only hope of victory lies in his sword, Serpent-Breath, as his allies are few and far in between. He still has Hild, a Saxon nun who is fleeing from her calling, and Guthred, a slave who believes he is a king, but he needs more warriors on his side.
The North is a dangerous place, and there is chaos, fear, and betrayal awaiting the ragtag group of allies there. With nowhere else to turn, Uhtred has no choice but to reluctantly ask for help from the one person he doesn’t want it from – Alfred the Great.
- The novel really immerses you into the customs of the time period.
- The descriptions of the battles continue to be top quality in this novel.
- The writing is a bit lazier than in the previous two installments.
The 4th book in the series, Sword Song takes place in the year 885 and England is at peace. The Danish Kingdom is located in the North, and the Saxon kingdom of Wessex is in the south.
Following the events of The Lords of the North, Uhtred has finally settled down. He now had land, a wife, and children and he is charged with the duty of holding the frontier on the Thames by King Alfred.
All is well until a dead man rises from the grave and a new band of Vikings have arrived to claim the ruined Roman City of London as their own. But in order to claim London, and all of Wessex, they will need Uhtred’s help.
Alfred, however, has other plans. He wants Uhtred to get rid of the Viking invaders and stop them from taking London. Uhtred must decide if his allegiances lay with the king, or if he is willing to side with the new Danes who occupy the land.
To make matters worse, Ætheleflæd – Alfred’s daughter, is newly married, and her very existence now threatens Alfred’s kingdom.
- The historical detail in this novel is fantastic.
- There are lots of well-developed characters introduced in this novel.
- The story and writing in this novel feel rushed in comparison to the previous entries.
Following Sword Song, the series is now at the very end of the 9th century. King Alfred is in ill health and his heir is an untested youth.
The Danes have been unsuccessful in their attempts to conquer Wessex, but they have found new hope in the savage warrior Harald Bloodhair. Fired up, the Danes attack once more.
Uhtred battles with Harald and defeats him, reluctantly fighting once more for Alfred. But his years of fighting for the king have now come to an end. He breaks away from Alfred and joins with the Vikings, vowing never to aid the Wessex king again.
He allies with his old friend Ragnar and Haesten, and they aim to conquer Wessex themselves. Fate has a different plan though.
The Danes of East Anglia and the Vikings of Northumbria are planning to conquer all of Britain, which leads to Alfred’s daughter pleading with Uhtred to help her.
Unable to refuse her request, Uhtred makes a huge gamble and takes control of a very demolished Mercian army, which leads them to a bloodthirsty battle beside the Thames.
- The writing remains consistent and descriptive.
- The historical inaccuracies actually make the story better.
- The story is a bit repetitive and feels too similar to the first 4 books.
The 6th book in The Last Kingdom series, this book begins with Alfred in even poorer health than the last book. His one dream of a unified England is in danger and his whole kingdom is on the brink of chaos.
His son, Edward, is the rightful heir to the throne and has the strongest claim, but there are also Saxon claimants to the throne, as well as pagan Vikings in the north who want to claim it.
Uhtred is torn between the vows he has made to the ailing Alfred and his desire to reclaim his lost ancestral lands. He is duty-bound as the king’s warrior, but Alfred’s reign is coming to an end, and Uhtred has made no such vows to his son.
Even after many years of fighting for Alfred, Uhtred still loathes committing to the King’s dream of a united, Christian England. He now needs to make a huge decision, one that will transform his entire life and the course of history.
- The connection between this book and the previous installments is really well done.
- The story and world-building remain very immersive and detailed.
- Uhtred is not as interesting or as developed in this book.
As the 10th century approaches, the whole of England is in turmoil. Alfred the Great has finally passed on, and his son is now the king. Wessex has survived, but the peace cannot last.
Led by the Viking Cnut Longsword, the Danes in the north are ready to invade, and they will not rest until the crown is theirs. Uhtred was Alfred’s greatest warrior, but he has no favor or influence over the new king.
In this novel, he has to lead a group of outcasts to recapture his ancestral home – the great and mysterious Northumbrian fortress, Bebbanburg. On this quest, loyalties will be tested and divided and many men will fall.
Every Saxon kingdom will have to fight in the most gruesome war against the Danes, and the results of the war will decide the fate of England itself.
- This novel has the same feeling as some of the older entries in the series.
- Character development continues to stay strong in this book.
- The plot threads in the middle of the book are a bit slow.
In the early 10th Century, everything is changing in England. New raids are happening thanks to the Vikings in Ireland, and there is conflict and turmoil over the leadership in Mercia.
The younger generation is starting to take over from the nearly obsolete older generation. The ruler of Mercia, Æthelred, is in ill health and has no legitimate heir.
The West Saxons want their king, but Uhtred has long supported Athelflaed, the sister of King Edward of Wessex and widow of Aethelred. Athelflaed is loved and widely respected, but can the Saxons ever accept a woman as their ruler?
As the many rivals fight for the empty throne, there can only be one champion and hero in the end. Whoever comes out on top will decide the fate of England.
- This novel is quite unique because Uhtred is injured for most of it, relying on his mind a lot more.
- The story remains very well-written and engaging.
- Lots of character names (both male and female) are similar and it can get quite confusing.
Following the events of The Empty Throne, there is a fragile peace between Wessex, Mercia, and East Anglia.
Alfred’s son, Edward, and his daughter Aethelflaed rule the kingdoms, but all around them, the Northmen are restless and desperate to start raiding their wealthy churches and rich lands.
The kingdoms’ greatest warrior, Uhtred of Bebbanburg controls all of North Mercia from the extremely fortified city of Chester. But even he cannot stop the forces that are allied against him.
Led by Ragnall Ivarson, the Northmen and the Irish work together with the Northumbrians, and if they start an all-out war, they could very well be unstoppable.
Edward and Aethelflaed are reluctant to fight against them and leave the safety of their fortified lands, but as Uhtred’s daughter is married off to Ivarson’s brother, he doesn’t know who he can trust.
There will be no easy path on this journey, but a man with a warrior’s courage may be able to find the right way, and Uhtred may very well be that man.
- Uhtred is a lot older in this novel and has to think and act differently, which makes it interesting.
- The battle descriptions in this novel are fantastic.
- The ending is a bit disjointed in terms of writing.
After everything that happened in Warriors of the Storm, England is once again in a state of uneasy peace. The Northumbrian Viking ruler Sigtryggr and Aethelflaed, the Mercian Saxon Queen have formed a truce.
With war no longer brewing, Uhtred is finally able to reclaim his ancestral home from his treacherous uncle who stole it from him many years ago – the ancestral home his uncle still has.
But reclaiming his home will not be easy, especially when his enemies have sworn oaths and conspired to keep him from completing his goal. Along with older foes, new enemies make their way into the fight.
The Constantin of Scotland takes advantage of an opportunity to lead his armies south, which threatens Britain’s uneasy peace once more.
Regardless of what is going on around him, Uhtred is determined to make sure that nothing gets in his way when he goes to reclaim his birthright.
- The conclusion of the novel is satisfying and worth the wait.
- The suspense building up to the climax is very well written.
- The story gets a bit boring halfway through.
After a long battle and many years, Uhtred has finally reclaimed his ancestral home from his treacherous uncle. For a brief moment, he has a small measure of peace, but this peace cannot last.
Uhtred is under threat from old and new enemies alike- and the old enemies come from Wessex. The Saxon kingdom is going through an immense power struggle, one that will determine who shall be the next king.
The new enemy is Sköll – a Norseman who desires to be the King of Northumbria, and he leads a terrifying army of wolf-like warriors. In the tenth installment of The Last Kingdom, Uhtred returns for another battle, and another attempt to protect England.
- The descriptive writing is fantastic in this novel.
- The world-building continues to be solid and consistent.
- The story is starting to lose its momentum in this novel.
In the penultimate novel in The Last Kingdom series of novels, England is thrown into political turmoil. King Edward is fading and beginning to lose control over his successors and supporters.
There are two heirs he must choose from, and there might even be more. Uhtred has tried to pull himself into the politics of the rest of the country, but all he cares about is his ancestral home Bebbanburg and of course, Northumbria.
But Uhtred has formed a strong oath with Aethelstan, who was once his companion, and he is now a potential king. This oath cannot be easily broken, and no matter how hard he tries to ignore it, Uhtred cannot escape it.
After vowing to stay out of the quarrels of the Anglo-Saxons, Uhtred finds himself and his lands under attack, and he becomes a leading supporter of one of the royal candidates. This leads him to travel south and battle once more for England’s fate.
- This book is easily read as a standalone novel.
- The style of writing is overall consistent and descriptive until the end.
- The writing quality drops towards the end of this book.
The final book in The Last Kingdom series, this novel documents the epic conclusion to the story of Uhtred and the kingdoms of England. England is once again under attack.
Northumbria is now the last kingdom that remains and it is threatened by armies on all sides… but one man stands in their way.
Torn between his loyalties and oaths he has sworn himself to, Uhtred of Bebbanburg faces the greatest battle of his lifetime, and this battle will determine not just the fate of England, but the fate of the man himself…
The final story in The Last Kingdom series gives the reader a fantastic conclusion to Uhtred’s life and makes for a brilliant conclusion to a well-beloved series.
- The final novel in the series remains exciting the whole way through.
- The suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page.
- Uhtred is very old at this point, and some of his actions aren’t very believable.
So there you have it! This is the correct order of The Last Kingdom series of novels, and if you want to enjoy the series for all its battles and excitement, this is the best order for you to read it in.
The story of Uhtred spans from the time he is a young boy all the way to when he becomes an old man, and you will go on a journey of war, betrayal, and conquest with him.
The Last Kingdom is considered to be one of the best historical fiction series out there, and you will feel very immersed in the story thanks to Bernard Cornwell’s descriptive and exciting style of writing.
If you haven’t read The Last Kingdom yet, then we definitely recommend it! You will love this series and everything it has to offer!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Books Are In The Last Kingdom Series?
There are 13 books in The Last Kingdom series and you can find them in order above.
Did Uhtred Exist In Real Life?
The character Uhtred did exist in real life, but the fictional version of him is quite different to the version you get in the novels.