The Reason Vikings Fans Will Be Hooked On The Last Kingdom

With Vikings set to end later this year, fans of the show may understandably glance at the other television program set roughly around the viking period: The Last Kingdom. For those who may be worried that The Last Kingdom is a simple rehash of Vikings, don't. Rather, view it instead as a spin-off that transforms into a sequel told from the perspective of the Saxons whose lands the Vikings invaded.

In The Last Kingdom, Ragnar Lothbrok was recently executed by King Aella of Northumbria, causing his sons to assemble what About History refers to as the Great Heathen Army to seek retribution. The show begins with King Aella assembling some local rulers, including the protagonist's father, Lord Uthred, to meet the invading menace. They lose. The main character, a child also called Uthred, is raised by some Vikings. From there, the other Saxon kingdoms fall, leaving Wessex and the newly crowned King Alfred alone to navigate the threat. The transition is further eased by familiar characters, like Alfred, Aella, and Ubbe (now Ubba) — albeit portrayed with different sympathies. 

Some fiction is more fictional than others

For those who first got into Vikings because they wanted a historical drama set specifically in that period, it's good to know that Bernard Cornwell, the author of The Saxon Stories series that serves as the basis for The Last Kingdom, cares much more about historical fidelity than Michael Hirst, Vikings' screenwriter. Cornwell, however, still succumbs to some inventions. So the story you like continues as it deepens the historical details that snagged your interest to begin with.

Considering that it's shown on the History Channel, which we know means very little, one of the biggest issues with Vikings is how it approaches its timeline — specifically, how it cuts up its timeline into a collage of bits that work — sort of — together. A clear example is Ubbe/Ubba, the Vikings version of which is born in 795, according to the fan wiki at Vikings Fandom and the vague timeline of the show. Yet Ragnar would have been executed for a failed invasion around 865, according to the legends recounted by the Encyclopedia Britannica.

While nitpicking historical details leads to long lists on the internet, per The Things, and The Last Kingdom isn't always perfect, as Digital Spy points out, it's worth pointing out how far away from the original premise Vikings fell by its ending seasons. If you want something that could perhaps tap into that generally-based-in-history but still-dramatic vibe, The Last Kingdom will be right up your alley.