Why you should read The Last Kingdom books if you love the show

The Last Kingdom, Netflix Canada

If you love watching The Last Kingdom, you need to give the books by Bernard Cornwell a chance. Here’s why they’re so important.

For those who don’t know, Netflix’s The Last Kingdom is based on a book series by Bernard Cornwell. That book series has gone through many names, with The Saxon Chronicles being the most popular. Regardless of the name of the series, you need to check out the books as a fan of the Netflix series.

This is more than just telling you that you should check out the source material just because. You’ll gain a lot from reading the novels. And while the show has followed a pattern of two books per season, I’d recommend starting from the beginning instead of jumping into the books partway through.

There’s far more description

If you’ve wondered about the relationships of various characters, The Last Kingdom books are worth exploring. They offer much more detail about the various characters. In fact, for much of the first novel, we learn about Ravn, Ragnar, Ragnar’s wife, and more. Brida is brought into the story under slightly different circumstances. I won’t share how, but it does make sense for the show to condense this part of the story. What I will say is you get to learn more about the England of the time, which helps to get an understanding of the Danish vs. Saxon sentiments.

Description is often needed. It was only by reading that I truly understood Leofic’s place in the whole story—and why he struggled with his friendship with Uhtred but his life at court. I got to know Uhtred a little more. While the show is told from Uhtred’s point of view, there is time and ability to explore other characters in more detail. The Last Kingdom books are from Uhtred’s point of view, which can limit descriptions and character development a little. But it does mean a lot of focus on Uhtred’s thoughts and feelings.

The names will also make a little more sense. Instead of just hearing names of the characters, you’ll see them written out. There’s also a key at the front of the books to help with place names.

Storylines adapt on The Last Kingdom

One reason to read from the very beginning is due to the way the storylines have developed. Character’s relationships have differed at times (Finan’s relationships being the biggest so far) and there are different developments for the story’s sake on the show. This is mostly due to timing. With just eight episodes per season for the first two and then 10 episodes per season for the second two, it’s impossible to fit it all in.

If you skip ahead, you’ll wonder how some of the characters have come into it. In fact, there will be characters you don’t even recognize yet. You’ll need to go back to the beginning to work through it all.


Bernard Cornwell Warrior Chronicles, The Last Kingdom Series 1 Books Set Collection Pack (The Lord of the North, Sword Song, The Last Kingdom, The Burning Land, The Pale Horseman) (Book 1 To 5)

You’ll get through the break

We still don’t know if The Last Kingdom Season 5 is happening yet. However, there’s hope that it will. And if it does happen, there’s going to be a long break before it airs. The books are certainly a way to help.

I’ll admit that I read one book within a few days. They’re the sorts of books that you can’t put down, constantly curious about what Uhtred will do next. You’ll understand that just from watching the show. But you’ve got a way to use up some of the time, and you’ll definitely learn more with each re-read.

MORE: The Last Kingdom explains Uhtred’s missing son

You need to get The Last Kingdom books. Trust me when I say that you won’t regret the purchase.

The Last Kingdom books are available to buy from Amazon.