Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Last Kingdom: continued.

NB - Don't read this first if you haven't yet watched the second episode, and are intending to!

Hm - didn't enjoy this episode as much. For one thing, in terms of plot, not that much happened; Uhtred found out that the word had been put about that it was he who'd killed Ragnar, and not the banished man who was after revenge. Eventually, after being chased a few times by people who wanted to kill him, he got the message that the only way was Wessex, so he went south. There he found that the priest who had been his tutor was at Alfred's court - and wouldn't you just know it, but only the other day he'd been saying to Alfred that what they needed in the fight against Guthrum was a spy who could pass as either a Dane or a Saxon - someone like this lad he used to know called Uhtred, for instance. And here he was! Alfred, despite apparently being able to read minds, wasn't certain he could trust him - so he sent him to Reading to do a bit of spying. Uhtred came back, having cunningly sussed out the ONLY place between Winchester and Reading suitable for a battle. Alfred took his advice, but just to be on the safe side, had Breda and Uhtred hung up in cages in case they turned out to be traitors. Breda did not look best pleased, and having seen what she could think of to do with a sharp twig, I think if I'd been Uhtred I'd be more worried about her than about Alfred. Or Ubba, or Guthrum, or his wicked uncle.

As I thought, Alfred is made out to be a weedy looking character who is rather suspiciously intelligent. Certainly not classic hero material. The justification for this (apart from the need to leave the hero stuff to Uhtred) is, at least in part, I imagine, the reference which I think is in Asser's Life of Alfred to some mysterious malady from which he suffered.

The Uffington White Horse. This is where the battle took place.

The episode ended  with the Danes and the Saxons lined up ready to begin the Battle of Ashdown. Alfred's older brother, Aethelred, is still the king at this stage. In the contemporary records, it says that Aethelred delayed getting the battle started because he was busy praying - but in this version, it's the king who's raring to go, and Alfred who, so far, is nowhere to be seen.

He was a clever and cultured man and a great strategist, But I hope they don't forget he was a great fighter too.


  1. Thanks for the tip-off, Sue! Think I'll give the rest of the series a pass.

    I wondered why Cornwell's comment that Game of Thrones was 'boring' was being blazoned everywhere. It seems it's because GoT is a lot less boring than this.

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  3. Nice one.

    ".... the only way is Wessex...".