Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: July BOM - The Last Kingdom

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: July BOM - The Last Kingdom
Date Posted: 7/1/2008 7:56 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Today is the day! We're ready to begin our first ever Historical Fiction Book of the Month. Post your comments here!

Reading Schedule:

  • Week One: Prologue, Chapters 1 and 2
  • Week Two: Chapters 3, 4, and 5
  • Week Three: Chapter's 6, 7, and 8
  • Week Four: Chapters 9, 10, and 11
Date Posted: 7/1/2008 8:02 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Earlier this morning, I spent about ten minute's reading the Place-Names pages in the very front of the book and even that was interesting.

I also saw the dedication to Judy (for Judy, with love), whoever that is, and now, I'm dying to know what this means: Wyrd bio ful araed. I'd like to look it up, but I don't know how to type the weird, little symbols. I'd be mad if I took the time to look it up and found that it means for Judy, with love. :-P

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 10:30 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,500
Back To Top

Maybe Judy is his wife?  It is interesting to look at the place names and see how they have or have not changed through the centuries!



Last Edited on: 7/1/08 10:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/1/2008 10:33 AM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
Posts: 782
Back To Top

I think the coolest place name similarity ever is Uruk/ Iraq. I mean, the place was called Uruk what, 3000 years ago, and it is still pronounced almost identically today! I love that!

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 10:48 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,500
Back To Top

That is amazing!

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 2:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
Back To Top

Destiny is Everything.

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
Back To Top

Okay, am I not as deep as you guys?  I'll admit it - I skimmed the place name pages!  LOL!  However, I do go back and look up the names there as I come across them. 

I'm almost done with the required reading, and all I'll say now is I'm really enjoying this book already. I'll wait to post further comment until everyone has read a bit more.

Happy Reading, everyone!

 

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 6:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
Back To Top

This is a second reading for me and I'm only in the middle of chapter 3. But on re-reading, what struck me the most is Cornwell's irreverent sense of humor, especially with respect to religion.

On pages 90-91 (hardcover), Beocca tries to explain to a young Uhtred that Alfred will be king.

Uhtred assumes King Aethelred's oldest son would be king upon his death.

"No, no!" Beocca sounded shocked....

"But he's the king's son," I insisted.

"When Alfred was a small boy," Beocca ... [explains], "his father took him to Rome. To see the pope! And the pope, Uhtred, invested him as the future king!" He stared at me as if he had proved his point.

"But he's not the heir," I said, puzzled.

"The pope made him heir!" Beocca hissed ....

This kind of humor and religious conflict runs throughout the series.

What's even more interesting is when you learn about Cornwell's upbringing. He was adopted and raised by a family that didn't love him, and worse, abused him. The family belonged to an unusual religious sect called the Peculiar People.

Genie

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 6:39 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
Back To Top

Oh, one more thing: Judy is his wife.

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 8:48 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
Posts: 1,080
Back To Top

My book came today.It was here waiting for me when I got home. I am going to start reading tonight. I just looked at  the book.I find the Place names interesting.I so happy my book came in time.

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 9:31 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
Posts: 782
Back To Top

I just finished this week's reading assignment! So far so good! I think I may have to just continue on with the story though. I'm afraid that if I lay it down and don't come back to it until next week I will forget what was going on.

Date Posted: 7/1/2008 9:45 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,500
Back To Top

That's an interesting observation about the author and his attitude towards religion.  It definitely comes through in some of his other works too.  I'm thinking of his series I just finished about the Grail quest and that was certainly an overarching theme there.  Sad to hear about his upbringing though.  Maybe his early years fired his imagination and we reap the benefits.

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 11:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

What do you guys think of Gytha, the wife and stepmother? I've always wondered what the women in those days really thought and felt while their men were preparing for war.  Do you think they cried and prayed as Gytha does? Or, do you think the were stoic and strong as their men gathered their weapons and prepared to leave?  Maybe they did a bit of both. It's interesting to think about.

I think Cornwell is really good at immediately drawing you into the past with his books. The very first sentence gives you a sense of long-past history and continuance with all of the sons being named Uhtred.  This book certainly starts off with a bang! You have the implied threat and sense of dread when the Danish boats are first spotted, and then the eldest brother dies, and in a very violent way,  right in the very first chapter. Lots of drama!

I'd never heard that Corwell's upbringing was so horrific. He certainly rose above it, didn't he?

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 12:34 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
Back To Top

Maybe his early years fired his imagination and we reap the benefits.

It certainly did. Imagine how quick on his feet and creative he had to be to survive it.

I'd never heard that Corwell's upbringing was so horrific. He certainly rose above it, didn't he?

I'm not positive, but I think he first went public with this information a few years ago. Who'da thunk where the storytelling comes from? I remember reading an interview a couple of years ago. He talked about how lying to survive his childhood prepared him for his future as a novelist. Now, there's someone who sees the silver lining in the clouds!

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
Back To Top

I don't mean to be puckered about it, but I actually find his irreverence a turn-off. I realize that the characters aren't Christian, but there is a tone that doesn't sit well.

I find Gytha a pretty interesting character, I don't find the women to be fully fleshed out much in the book - maybe because it is Uthred's story and he isn't all that into what women are thinking, I don't know.  Anyway - I think that women were very much that way, Valli, a blend of stoic and panicked - at least I'd be :)

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 2:26 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
Back To Top

Valli - I think you're right on Gytha and the other women of that time.  I suppose they worried and wept when the men weren't around but put on brave faces when they were most of the time.  I think they probably handled it better than we would in this day and age.  War, fighting, death, etc. were just facts of life back then.  Not to say those things didn't bother them, but I think people back then had a bit of a different mindset living in the harsher times.  Why do I have a feeling, though, that this book will be primarily male dominated and we won't get much in the way of female perspective - with the possible exception of the love interest?  Oh, and I don't know why, but I just knew what the Danish horseman was going to fling at Uhtred's family when he rode up on that horse! 

Mimi - Funny, great minds.  I didn't read your post until after I wrote the above paragraph.  No, I don't think the women characters will be fleshed out much either.

Is it me or does anyone else feel that we haven't seen or heard the last from Kjartan and/or his son, Sven? 

And what do you guys think about Weland?  Is Uhtred's and Sigrid's mistrust of him well-founded or is he deliberately being cast in a suspicisious light to throw us off track? 

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
Posts: 782
Back To Top

Well, I have read ahead, so I can answer your question Shelley, but I wont!

 

I am enjoying the book so far. I have made it to chapter 5. So far my only compaint is that the writing seems a bit simplistic. Maybe that is just Cornwell's way of doing things, but sometimes I catch myself stopping in mid paragraph thinking "Wow, the writing is almost childlike." Am I the only one who has noticed this? I mean, the story is still good, and I have been trying to get a few pages in whenever I get a chance, but I am just used to more complex writing.

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 6:02 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

I've read quite a few of his books and never thought of them as being particularly simplistic. I think in this book he is maybe trying to write as young Uhtred would think. I usually don't care for books that are written in first person, but Cornwell seems to find a nice balance of narrative, dialogue, and description. 

Now that you guys mention it, I don't think I remember any of the women in Cornwell's books as being very fleshed out. I guess Cornwell would be considered as more of a guy's writer. I love his books though!

I can't even imagine being a woman then and watching my husband and son gather the swords and shields to ride off to war. Then again, I've always wished I could be like a Spartan woman and tell DH to "Come back with your shield...Or, on it!" It just doesn't work as well when you insert paycheck for shield. :-P

Thanks for the translation Mimi! What a beautiful thing to say to the wife!

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,500
Back To Top

MIMI I think Cornwell's irreverence about religion really fits the subject matter, however.  At that point in history the Danes weren't Christianized and the English barely were.  You get a lot of interplay between the believers and the non-believers that had to have complicated life especially on a political basis that we just catch glimpses of early on.

VALLI Gytha was probably pretty typical for the time with her praying and weeping and worrying, but I suspect there is a streak of pragmatism in there somewhere too by what she does after Uhtred's father meets his fate.  Or, maybe she had no choice and things were just decided for her.  I could see that scenario as well.

 

JENNIFER I think his style is more simplistic than some, but then I think of the person telling the story and he is young and it seems to suit his character at least for now.

 He does seem to be more of a "guys writer". but I agree I still love his stories.  Not too many memorable female characters in anything of his I have read so far.



Last Edited on: 7/2/08 6:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/2/2008 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
Posts: 782
Back To Top

OMG Valli! That is so hilarious! I can just imagine telling Jason "Come back with your *paycheck* or on it!" I will be laughing about that for a week!

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 6:08 PM ET
Member Since: 3/18/2007
Posts: 782
Back To Top

Cheryl and Valli:

I think you are probably right about the reason for the simplicity of the writing. I had wondered myself if Cornwell was writing like that because he was writing for a young boy. Having never read anything by this author before, I didn't know if he always wrote like this or if it just had to do with the fact that he was telling a child's story.

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
Back To Top

Mimi, I'm not surprised about your reaction to Cornwell's humor. Not you specifically, but that the humor would engender offense. But I also think Cornwell intends to offend. He has very strong opinions about religion and religious humor is also prevalent in many of the Sharp books I've read.

Date Posted: 7/2/2008 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
Back To Top

Well I'm only on pg 17...waiting for it to pick up a little.  I kinda feel like there is no sense of urgency...even when things are exciting...maybe it's just me though, I was tired when I was reading last night.

I also noticed that the writing was a little simplistic. I assumed it was because it was a child narrating.

My favorite part so far was when he said that the Danes are like maggots filling an existing wound...great imagery. and I was mildy offended being Danish myself lol! j/k. but I loved that line!

I like he describes everything...including the surroundings. sometimes I think authors forget about that.

Date Posted: 7/3/2008 6:43 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
Posts: 1,080
Back To Top

I am up to chapter two.I hope to finish chapter two today or tomorrow.Then I will read over all the posts and post my comments.So far i am enjoying the book.

Date Posted: 7/3/2008 7:45 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
Posts: 1,080
Back To Top

I am on vacation from tomorrow till July 20.More time for reading.:)



Last Edited on: 7/7/08 11:34 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Page: