England’s history is of special interest to me since it is my ancestry. My novel, Annoure and the Dragon Ships, opens in 794 A.D. on the east coast of Northumbria, Saxon England, during the second Viking raid on St. Paul’s church and its twin monasteries.
Recently I discovered a BBC, British history, series on Netflix. The story takes place in 871 A.D. In the intervening 77 years between the beginning of the Norsemen’s attacks to 871 A. D., the Saxon swept through Saxon England and conquered all but Wessex in what is now southwest England.
The story is told through the eyes of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Alexander Dreymon. As a boy his father is killed in a battle of the Saxons against the Danes. Uhtred is taken captive by the Dane Earl Ragnar who later adopts him. When Uhtred is a young man, an angry Dane (who was banished by Ragnar) attacks and kills Uhtred’s surrogate family.
Horrified by the death of his family, Uhtred wants revenge. He also wants to regain his ancestral lands, but doesn’t have the means to accomplish either of his goals. He’s a man caught between two worlds, the Saxons and the Norsemen, and he isn’t accepted by either.
I found myself caught up in the story. It is high budget with attention to historical detail in such things as clothing, hair styles, housing, Viking ships and weapons. The characters are complex, three-dimensional people and the plot is complicated with many twists and turns.
One of the more interesting characters is King Alferd, David Dawson. He was an important Saxon king and held back the Saxons from taking Wessex. He was a remarkable man for his time because he went to Rome twice and could read and write English and Latin at a time when few of his contemporaries could read. He was responsible for raising the level of culture in England. He also had a vision to unite all the regions into one country.
King Alferd is a pious Christian man, whereas Uhtred believes in the Norse Gods. Their difference in beliefs is a source of conflict between the two men because the king needs Uhtred, who is a great warrior, but he can never trust a pagan completely.
The two seasons of the show were released in 2015 and 2017. Netflix joined BBC to make a second series. It’s yet to decided whether there will be a third series. The shows are based on a series of novels by Bernard Cornwell. Cornwell descended from one family line of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, of which there were several. Little is known about Uhtred, so Cornwell created a fictional account of his life.
I highly recommend this series. As in my book, it shows the clash between the Saxons and Vikings in their religious beliefs, customs and the way they view the world.
Please note: The show isn’t for everyone. It has graphic scenes of violence and sex, so much so that I found myself turning away at times.
https://www.netflix.com/title/80074249 (trailer for The Last Kingdom)