EMBRACING THE LAST KINGDOM

Filming of THE LAST KINGDOM S02 is underway, with an airing on Netflix (in the United States) scheduled for 2017. The tale is set in England during the 9th century AD; adapted from Bernard Cornwell novels (originally collectively known as The Warrior Chronicles, or The Saxon Stories, and now collectively known as The Last Kingdom.)  For all of the success that the BBC enjoyed with its airing of THE LAST KINGDOM S01, it didn’t catch fire with the GAME OF THRONES fanbase in America.  There’s been little or no buzz for it here.  Why do you suppose that is?

Three reasons why THE LAST KINGDOM should catch fire with the GAME OF THRONES fanbase:

The setting.  9th century England might not be as refined or as culturally diverse as Westeros, but still… THE LAST KINGDOM is as entertaining a depiction of 9th century England as viewers are likely to see anyplace else, and that’s got to count for something.  The giants, wights, and Lady Stoneheart in Martin’s novels are fun spices to find in a storyteller’s spice rack.  Viewers won’t see any of that stuff in this BBC depiction of Cornwell’s 9th century England though.  THE LAST KINGDOM is about men, women, and destiny.

The alliances/betrayals/intrigues.  It’s all here in THE LAST KINGDOM, with fewer plot holes than GAME OF THRONES perhaps (the ever-popular “Littlefinger’s jetpack” theory comes to mind, along with the strangely non-existent story path of Lady Stoneheart,) fewer flashbacks (Bran’s visions, Cersei’s daydreams,) and fewer scandals (too many to list.).  THE LAST KINGDOM places more of an emphasis on the way things were then, during the lives of the protagonists and antagonists (instead of the way things once were beforehand, often seen in GAME OF THRONES.)  Even so, televised adaptations of historical fiction aren’t usually much different from televised adaptations of fantasy fiction.

The source material is ready.  Cornwell’s novels are plentiful, with all nine of them having already been published.  So, there’s no waiting around forever, for the next installment in the series to come out (The Winds Of Winter, anyone?)  Cornwell’s novels are also slimmer than Martin’s thick volumes, making them easily accessible for eager readers (as long as you don’t mind numerous characters and/or places with hard-to-pronounce names or similar names.)

In any event, it’ll be a good long while before THE LAST KINGDOM S02 airs.  The same can be said of GAME OF THRONES S07.  So, why not go ahead and enjoy what the BBC has already accomplished with THE LAST KINGDOM S01, if you haven’t done so already?

Seen it?  What did you think of it?  Let us know in the Comments section below.

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  1. Avatar
    John Enfield

    I’ve been enjoying Cornwell’s novels immensely! I’m something of a history buff, especially that of the Medieval times, so I’ll read almost anything about it. Compared to some other histories and historical novels on the time period, his are quite readable. He manages to balance a feel of historical accuracy (which is actually tenuous at best when it comes to a time and place when recording the facts was of no greater importance for the chronicler than amusing or flattering the audience) with that of a feel of fun adventure. This TV show does a remarkable job of capturing the spirit of the novels. It’s worth watching whether one has read them or not: if on hasn’t, the story is still easy enough to follow and enjoy; if one has, one finds with relief, that this is a rare case in which the show is almost as good as the books. There are some fine performances both dramatically and martially in the show. David Dawson is perfectly cast as King Alfred, a dead ringer for how that royal personage is usually rendered in art of the period and able to act almost exactly like I picture the character when I read the books. The rest of the cast does a fantastic job as well. Even most of the extras are quite convincing. Enough humor, drama, intrigue and combat to satisfy most viewers.

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