As the Saxon warlord, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, born a Saxon but raised a Viking continues on his quest to claim his ancestral birthright but after he was ripped from the land following a Viking invasion, the story takes a different turn. His loyalty to both kingdoms is tested. The British historical fiction series, The Last Kingdom is a great tale of kings, warriors, rogues and monks with intriguing linings of blood, betrayal, and battle.
The series has sometimes been compared to HBO’s Game of Thrones though without the nudity and with credible proofs too. The duo shares a wide variety of characters in the power tussle, a medieval milieu and interestingly, they are based on a series of novels. While GoT is adapted from the George R.R. Martin’s bestselling fantasy book series – A Song of Fire and Ice, Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories inspired The Last Kingdom.
The series premiered in 2015 and arguably, one of the greatest novel adaptations in recent times was birthed. What probably keeps us die-hard fans of the series is that Cornwell is still writing the stories and at a fairly fast pace too, keeping us blank on what to expect, with only speculations in the least. That at least eliminates the worry of ever running into a George R.R. Martin situation; he has published five out of a planned seven volumes, with the last one released in 2011. So far, Cornwell has written 11 novels, published every one or two years, with the last one published in 2018.
The Last Kingdon benefits greatly from an excellent ensemble of actors who are perfect fits for the characters they portray, both physically and personality-wise. They include Alexander Dreymon who plays the lead character, David Dawson, Emily Cox, Ian Hart, Charlie Murphy, David Schofield, and Ola Rapace.
Season 3 of The Last Kingdom performed well enough for Netflix to order a fourth season, and we couldn’t be happier to see the further adventures of Uhtred son of Uhtred. That means more Wessex; more Saxons; more Danes; more shield walls, more court intrigue, and more destiny. Here is everything to know about season 4 so far.
The Last Kingdom is set in the pre-medieval 9th century England when the Anglo Saxon England is divided into a heptarchy. The tale follows the attack and plundering of the kingdoms by the Viking Danes who conquered and effectively ruled many areas of the land save King Alfred the Great’s Kingdom of Wessex which remains the last major stronghold against them.
The protagonist was named Uhtred son of Uhtred after his elder brother was killed in a battle with the Danes. He was taken in slavery by Earl Ragnar as a boy along with Brida, a Saxon girl, after his father and other noblemen of the kingdom were killed in battle by the Danes. His stepmother and uncle survived, with the latter taking over the leadership of the land and seeking for a way to kill Uhtred so that he can hold onto the land.
Uhtred settled in his adopted home, Danish Northumbria. As he grew, he witnessed the second murder of his family, but this time his adoptive family, in an attack led by Kjartan, a fellow Viking. As such, Uhtred vows to avenge the death of his adoptive father, Ragnar while he still nurses the hope of returning to reclaim Bebbanburg from his uncle, Aelfric. Whether he will choose the kingdom that shares his ancestry or that of his upbringing is what will play out in the coming seasons.
The Saxon Stories later titled The Last Kingdom was adapted for television in 2014 and was to be produced by BBC Two and BBC America, with Stephen Butchard as the writer. Filming for the show began in Hungary. Most of the scenes were shot at the eight acres near Budapest owned by Korda Studios with its Medieval Village Set and surrounding mountains, forests, and lakes. Some shots are taken in the United Kingdom as well.
The first season of eight episodes premiered in October 2015. After Uhtred was captured in season 1 and formed an allegiance with King Alfred the Great to save Wessex, the second season saw him beginning his voyage north to avenge the death of Earl Ragnar and to recapture his ancestral lands at Bebbanburg. The season also has eight episodes and was released in March 2017. However, this time, Netflix co-produced after the exit of BBC America. For the third season, the streaming giant took over production.
Besides that, it also represented a step up for the series. There were some major changes to the plot and it has more episodes (10) and seemingly, a wider audience. The seasons also garnered huge positive reviews and high ratings, which is sure to keep it running into extra seasons. According to one reviewer, the third outing had a positive effect. He also noted that the season came with increased production values and significant budget increase.
The third season covers the decline in King Alfred’s health as he tries to ensure that his vision of a Christian, Saxon Wessex as part of a stable English nation will survive him as his legacy. The Uhtred-Alfred relationship is at the core of the story. With the king’s condition and his son’s reluctance to sit on the throne after him, leaving Uhtred as the nascent king, will he remain loyal to the king or would he betray him?
Season 3 premiered in November 2018, a wide 18 months gap from its predecessor.
The Last Kingdom Season 4
Cornwell has written 11 novels thus far, and the first six have been adapted for three seasons of the TV series. In each of his books, he dedicates a section where he gives details of what is recorded historically, and what he has invented. The first season’ storyline covers the plots of the novels; The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman. The second took up from The Lords of the North and Sword Song while the third season is based on The Burning Land and Death of Kings. With five books left, there are at least two more seasons worth of television shows ready to be made.
The Stories and their dates of publication are as follows: The Last Kingdom (2004), The Pale Horseman (2005), The Lords of the North (2006), Sword Song (2007), The Burning Land (2009), Death of Kings (2011), The Pagan Lord (2013), The Empty Throne (2014), Warriors of the Storm (2015), The Flame Bearer (2016), and War of the Wolf (2018).
Season 3 ends at a crossroad plot-wise, wrapping up several key storylines while leaving others wide open. And with a new season in line, it has plenty of directions to take. Season 4 was ordered and renewed by the streaming platform on December 26, 2018. As such, Uhtred’s wartorn 9th century England will return sooner rather than later.
The release date for the seasons has been quite inconsistent so far. From October 2015 to March 2017 and then November 2018, it leaves one to wonder if we have to wait another 12-18 months for the new season’s arrival. However, with the fact that season 4 was renewed early compared to the norm, which is within one month of the premiere against approximately two to three months after, it is most likely that its release would also be on the earlier side of the time frame.
Also, with Netflix in charge, that could make it available between November 2019 and maybe January 2020.
Every Other thing You Need To Know
Now that the season is imminent, who and who should be expected back as a part of the cast. Undoubtedly, The Last Kingdom has a huge and evolving cast to choose from, both the Saxon and Danes. So, it is safe to say everyone who is alive may be seen at some point in the future, going by the nature of the Saxon Stories.
Thus, expected to return is Alexander Dreymon (Uhtred) who is the mainstay of the series. Also David Dawson (King Alfred), Emily Cox (Brida), and a host of well-realized supporting characters such as the worthy man-at-arms Leofric (Adrian Bower), the earnest priest Beocca (Ian Hart) and the nun-warrior Hild (Eva Birthistle) among others.
When is the season going to premier? While the first two outing was screened on BBC Two in the UK and BBC America for those in the US, the show as of 2018 became a Netflix exclusive. Season 1 is available on the streaming service and season 2 will be coming to Netflix on 18th April 2019. That noted, Netflix remains the only place to get your hit of battles, blood, and betrayal.
As per what to expect from the season, if it follows the existing order; two novels from the Saxon Stories for each season, then the events of The Pagan Lord and The Empty Throne should be expected for season 4. From the synopsis of the novels, it can be gathered that Uhtred falls out of favor with the new king, supposedly younger Edward but advances to Bebbanburg to reclaim his right. There would also be more battles and bloodshed as the war between the Saxons and the Danes progresses.