In the late ninth century, war reigned in what is now known as England. The Kingdom of Wessex, ruled by the Saxon King Alfred (later Alfred the Great) stands alone; all the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms have been captured by the invading Danish Vikings.
This is the backdrop to The Last Kingdom, starting Thursday 17 December at 20:00 on M-Net Edge.
Based on The Saxon Stories, a series of historical novels by Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom focuses on Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon). Uhtred’s father, a Saxon nobleman (briefly played by Matthew Macfadyen), is killed by the marauders and the young boy taken captive.
Uhtred is raised by the Danes as one of their own. As an adult, he must decide: Is he a Saxon or a Viking?
Here are eight things you didn’t know about The Saxon Stories, the novels on which The Last Kingdom is based.
1. Uhtred is based on Uhtred the Bold, a historical figure.
2. Author Bernard Cornwell is a descendant of this family, Saxons who owned Bebbanburg, which is these days called Bamburgh Castle.
3. Cornwell met his birth father, William Outhred, in his fifties, and only then learnt of his ancestors.
4. To date, nine novels have been published in the series, and Cornwell hasn’t stopped writing. He has said in interviews that he has no idea how many more books there will be.
5. The first season of the television series is based on the first two novels, The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman.
6. The series is known by a number of different names in the UK and US, including The Saxon Tales, The Saxon Chronicles and The Warrior Chronicles.
7. Cornwell, who is in his seventies, is a prolific author and has written two novels a year for much of his career.
8. The best known is probably the historical Sharpe series, which consists of 24 books and was turned into a television series starring Sean Bean as the title character.
The Last Kingdom is on M-Net Edge, Thursday nights at 20:00. Make sure you never miss an episode by downloading the M-Net App and setting reminders for the show.