(Review) The Last King: England: The First Viking Age, The Ninth Century Book 1 by M J Porter

Publisher and Publication Date: Independently published. 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 314.
Format: Kindle e-book.
Source: Kindle Unlimited program.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction who like the Anglo-Saxon period in England.
Rating: Okay.

Link @ Amazon


AD 874

They sent three hundred warriors to kill one man. It wasn’t enough.

Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters.

Coelwulf, a fierce and bloody warrior, hears whispers that Mercia has been betrayed from his home in the west. He fears no man, especially not the Vikings sent to hunt him down.

To discover the truth of the rumors he hears, Coelwulf must travel to the heart of Mercia, and what he finds there will determine the fate of Mercia, as well as his own.

My Thoughts:

This is my 14th year in reviewing books. The Last King is the first book I’ve read that uses profanity as a predicted form for the dialogue.
I’ve read many books with characters using profanity. In The Last King, profanity is used so often that I expected each page to have at least one f-bomb. If I didn’t see the word, I reread the page as if it’s a game titled, “look for the f-bomb word.” Nearly every page has at least one f-bomb. Some pages have several. And, a few other profanity words are used through out the book. The profanity is crude and vulgar. As a woman, one of the profanity words used I take offense.
I decided to research the use of profanity in the time period of the late 800s. The Anglo-Saxon period in the setting now known as England. The websites I read are Medievalists.net and Irishtimes.com.
What I learned is f-bomb was probably first used in the 15th century. However, the earliest known reference is in 1310. The word was used in a court case. It is in the Renaissance period that modern profanity words began. Even the Romans didn’t use the f-bomb as an insult word. During the Anglo-Saxon period, the word sard was used to define people having sex. The profane words used during the Anglo-Saxon period was by God’s bones, or by Christ’s fingernails, or other similar terms. To call a man a mare or a woman was profane. This was demasculating a man which was profane.
Is it possible the profanity used in the book is apart of the fiction in historical?

How do I feel about the rest of the book?

I like the main character, Coelwulf. He is a courageous warrior with a tender heart to his kindred. There is a scene when he comforts grieving women whose men had died in battle. Even after some of them hit him, he wrapped his arms around them and grieved. This is an unexpected scene. This is an unexpected moment in the story. I don’t remember this type of behavior in other stories like The Last King. To me this is important: to tell a story in a way that has not been told before. This particular scene helped me rate the book okay.

The book is filled with bloody battle scenes, but I didn’t find them hard to read. They are graphic as they should be for dramatic purpose and realness.

In another place while I was researching profanity, I came across a quote I love. The author of the quote is Karen Swallow Prior. The article is from The Gospel Coalition, The Real Problem with 4-Letter Words.

“The power of a curse word is not in the letters but in the context, intention, and effect.”


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