the last king

3.5 stars

This historical fiction book about Coelwulf, a battle-hardened warrior with royal blood, and his fight to save his beloved Mercia from a Viking horde is not for those with delicate sensibilities. But if you can withstand a hard-fighting, bloody book with adult language, this is the one for you.

This book started off rough. Really rough. To the point where I almost stopped reading after 10%. The writing was atrocious. Sentences were hokey and incomplete. I have nothing against cursing and have been known to imbibe on occasion. I am all for a well-placed use of the word “f*&k”, but the sentences were littered with unnecessary cursing. It felt like I was reading a 14 year old boys late-night mad ramblings.

I have disliked a well-received book before, so I figured this was yet another. BUT, I was really intrigued by the premise. I eventually decided to stick with it, and I am so glad I did. At some point, either the writing improved dramatically, or I got used to the author’s style of writing and it didn’t feel like nails on a chalkboard anymore. However it happened, once I hit that mark in the book, I really enjoyed it.

Coelwulf and his group of warriors have spent their time trying to rid Mercia of the Viking raiders that have been plaguing their land. After one such brutal battle, he is shocked to hear that the King of Mercia has given up the throne and handed it to the Vikings. As Coelwulf makes his way to the heart of Mercia to find out for himself if the rumor is true, he encounters several bands of Vikings searching for him. The Viking leaders have sent 300 men to find Coelwulf to bring him to swear allegiance to them. Coelwulf’s response is to kill everyone he encounters.

This book is told in first person, which is a bit jarring at first since it’s not often done. In this case, however, it allows the readers to get a good feel for Coelwulf’s relationship with his men, particular two brothers that act as his lieutenants and protectors. His men certainly have interesting personalities and interactions with each other, which you would expect to find in a small group of men that have fought, and survived, together.

If you can push through the first few chapters of this book and stick with it, I think you’ll enjoy this fast-paced, action-packed story about one man and his quest to save his country. The book is only 257 pages, so you should be able to tear through it quickly.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.