The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: The Last Kingdom (Book #10 of 13)
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 305 pages (Kindle edition)
Published: 6th October 2016 by HarperCollins
The Flame Bearer has a strong start and concluding chapter, but this series has run its course, and I can’t believe there are still 3 books to go.
I will make this a short review. The Flame Bearer is the tenth book in The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell. And I’m genuinely running out of words to say about it in my review. This isn’t because it’s book number 10 in a series; I’ve reviewed each book in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb, and Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, and I always have a LOT of things to say as spoiler-free as possible on each book in these series. However, there’s nothing else to say in The Last Kingdom/i> by this point; the entirety of the past four books have followed the same “strong beginning, then fill the middle with something pointless, and then end the book strongly” method. Seriously, I wouldn’t lose much—except one scene with Aethelflaed—if I just read the first two chapters and then read the last chapter of this book.
And that’s the thing. The last chapter of The Flame Bearer was incredible. It’s one of the strongest final chapters of the entire series so far, and I won’t lie, Cornwell could’ve ended this series right here and I would be more satisfied. One of the biggest issues I have with this novel is the lack of compelling characters. Uthred is so old now, more than 50 years have passed since the beginning of the series, and obviously, a lot of the characters we cared about are no longer here. But still, the series would’ve benefited so much from having new interesting and engaging side characters. Other than Finan, Aethelflaed, and Aethelstan, there’s a serious lack of characters to feel invested in here. It’s not a surprise that the TV series decided to adapt book 9 and book 10 (this one) as the final season of the series; it is that conclusive already.
Don’t get me wrong here; this is still a great addition to the series, but it would’ve been so much better if this is the end of the series; Cornwell could’ve easily worked it into making this the final book. I mean, he even admitted that almost the entirety of this novel, unlike the previous books, is fictional. So overall, The Flame Bearer has a powerful start and ending, but unfortunately, the unnecessary fillers underwhelm the quality of this great book. And despite my mixed feelings—mostly complaining—about this installment, I will read the remaining three books, too. I might as well now that I’m this far into the series already. I’m sure the last volume in the series will be terrific, but I’ll keep my expectations low for the next two books before that.
You can order the book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)
I also have a Booktube channel
Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!
My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Element, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Hunter, Jimmy Nutts, Jennifer, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Neeraja, Nicholas, ReignBro, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Shaad, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.