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  • Richard Lohrey

Now that Game of Thrones is Over, What Are We Going to Watch?

"Great question," says the Night King.

From the first episode, Game of Thrones grew its audience exponentially. No doubt its initial appeal was attributed to the popularity of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy fiction series (loosely based on the War of Roses) A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones being the first book in the series.

Yes, it was violent and sexually graphic, lest we forget it was brought to us by HBO. But it was also well written, beautifully produced and we became engaged with compelling characters each with their own storylines in a world that both attracted and repelled us. And just when you fell in love with a certain character, he or she was killed off so show after show kept you on the edge of your seat, especially when the show’s chronology extended beyond the books’ coverage.

While the majority of us fans were disappointed with the way the show ended, it’s undeniable that we were only disappointed because we were all enthralled for so long and thus, a proverbial hole exists that was once filled by the epic series.

So now what? Hey, we could spend more time making new friends, spending more quality time with family, reading … yeah right. While no show can match the exact appeal of Game of Thrones, and many have unsuccessfully tried, there is one show out there that stands on its own two parapet and is worthy of binge watching—The Last Kingdom.

The show is based on the historical fiction book series The Saxon Stories (The Last Kingdom is book 1) by Bernard Cromwell about the Viking (Dane) invasion of England around 900 A.D. It centers on one main character, Uhtred, son of Uhtred. Uhtred starts off as “Osbert” the noble son of Ealdorman Uhtred, Lord of Bebbanburg in Northumbria. When his older brother is killed, he is renamed Uhtred. Must be a nobility thing—or maybe his dad didn’t want those monogrammed sweaters they bought his older brother going to waste.

When his father goes off to fight the Danes, Uhtred Jr. secretly follows. His father is killed and his troops defeated but not before the wee Uhtred attacks the main Dane. The Dane admires the boy’s courage and ferocity. He knocks him out cold with the broad side of his sword but then adopts him, though technically he’s a prisoner. So the English noble is raised as a Viking. Not a bad premise.

Played by Alexander Dreymon, Uhtred is a larger than life warrior, sometimes siding with the English, sometimes siding with the Danes, and conflicted either way. He escapes death countless times though the women he falls in love with aren’t so lucky … Uhtred is the man every man wants to be, and what every woman wants a man to be—brave, fierce, loyal, gentle, kind, honest and good-looking to boot. Drummond off screen is extremely likable. Follow him on Instagram and you’ll probably think he’s the kind of guy you’d enjoy hanging out with.

One particular cast member of note is David Dawson. He plays King Alfred who acts as both bane and buffer to Uhtred. Alfred is a different kind of warrior than Uhtred. He’s wickedly cunning and strategic, and every scene he’s in grips your attention. The dynamic between him and Uhtred is a show unto itself. But truly, the entire cast adds a heightened level of depth and intrigue to the series.

The first three seasons are available on Netflix with Season 4 in production. I suggest you start making the transition now from the seven kingdoms to The Last Kingdom. Is it destined to fill the hole left by Game of Thrones? I think The Last Kingdom will fight for that privilege—and in the words of Uhtred, son of Uhtred, “Destiny is all!”

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