Based on the Bernard Cornwall novel of the same name and its many sequels, The Last Kingdom stormed onto our screens in 2015 as a contender to the Game Of Thrones crown. With brutal heroes and manipulative politics, the heroes of the ninth and tenth centuries are brought the life in all of their gore-soaked glory.
Bernard Cornwall has made a long career out of meticulously researched historical novels and his usual model is to centre his stories on a fictional hero who follows in the footsteps of a genuine historical figure. For Richard Sharpe, marching across the Iberian Peninsula in the Napoleonic Wars, it was Lord Wellington. For Nathanial Starbuck in the American Civil War, it was General Robert E. Lee and for Nick Hook in Azincourt it was King Henry V. The Saxon Stories are no different, with our hero serving as the foremost warrior of King Alfred The Great.
Cornwall stated that not much was learned in schools about the Dark Ages, that period of time in which modern England was forged from divided kingdoms and broken promises. While the land was ravaged by Danish Vikings and the schism between pagan belief and the inevitable march of the Christian faith, Alfred sought to protect Wessex and unite all of England into one kingdom. This is his story, but also one of which little is known in reality. In The Last Kingdom, we have Uhtred, Son Of Uhtred. Born a Saxon but raised by Danes as Alfred's sword.
Destiny Is All.
The hulking Saxon warrior portrayed by the towering Adrian Bower was a fictional creation. He served as the captain of the King's Guards, under both Alfred and his elder brother Aethelred. He was at first odds with the arrogant young Dane Uhtred, but would eventually come to respect his sword skill and battle cunning. The two would develop a firm friendship.
After the battle of Cynwit, Leofric suggests to Uhtred that they should seek some riches together by pretending to be Danish raiders and absconding over to neighbouring Cornwalum (or Cornwall, as we call it nowadays). While they earn some wealth, the treachery that they have engaged in does not sit well with Leofric, since they have betrayed the treaty that Wessex had with the vassal kings of Cornwalum.
Ultimately, his dedication to Wessex means that Leofric confesses this crime before Alfred's court and seals Uhtred's fate. Despite being close friends, Leofric condemns Uhtred to death, offering to kill him in single combat himself, so as to grant the Dane a warrior's death.
Now there's friendship.