Game of Thrones Stormborn notes and The Queen’s Justice thoughts.

Hi guys. As everyone anticipates the third episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season tonight, I’m here to look at last week’s episode and the trailer and try to predict in some small way where the story is going. Last week I successfully called that there would be a naval battle in Stormborn. Will I be as successful this week? Probably not.

Arya Stark comes face to face with Nymeria her pet direwolf from her youth in the Game of Thrones season 7 episode 3 Stormborn.

Please don’t remember the time I threw rocks at you…

• Starting with the end, because it’s the biggest event on everyone’s mind, I didn’t interpret Theon’s fleeing as the return of Reek. Theon made a calculated decision for Yara’s survival. If he rushed Euron both he and Yara would likely have been killed. At least this way, Yara is alive and Theon can get word to Daenarys quickly.
• On the point of keeping Yara alive though, it seems unnecessary. Euron already controls the Iron Isles so in fact killing Yara would solidify his rule. And kinslaying doesn’t seem like a moral distinction that would bother Euron. The only reason I can think to keep Yara and Ellaria Sand alive is that part of Euron’s gift is to let Cersei decide what to do with them.
• Arya meeting with Nymeria has been anticipated for a few seasons and it was a nice scene. What I took from the scene was the confirmation that Arya hasn’t lost that inherent Stark relationship with the North. For so long Arya’s story has been a battle of identity that there was a question of just how much of herself she gave up to become the assassin she wanted to be.
• Jon continues to make the best decisions for Westeros despite arguments from almost everyone around him. There is a definite risk here that the meeting could be a trap or that Daenarys could react violently, but Jon understands that they can afford to be cautious and isolationist as they prepare for the coming of the Night’s King. I can’t wait for the interaction between Jon and Dany and Davos reaction when he sees Melisande again.
• I was a little surprised at how viciously Daenarys went after Varys in that opening scene. It cleared the air and set up the scene with Melisande but damn I actually feared for Vary’s life at least two or three times during that scene. Given Olenna’s advice and Euron’s first strike, Dany’s reaction may be a full-on dragon assault on King’s Landing.
• Qyburn’s giant bow and arrow was a hilarious reveal. In execution, I can’t imagine that they’ll be easy to aim and living dragons aren’t going to sit still like the bones do. No doubt they’ll deal some damage, but historically armaments weren’t terribly effective in fending off dragon invasions.

From The Queen’s Justice trailer it looks like Daenarys has a major decision to make. There are multiple shots of her looking out towards King’s Landing and her statement that she was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms seems like a clear statement of intent against those who feel like last week’s naval battle was a severe blow to her invasion.

We also see scenes of Jon arriving at Dragonstone and in the throne room with Daenarys. It’s all just hype though. The trailer gives away nothing for what we might expect from the meeting but following on from Cersei’s first strike, I don’t imagine Daenarys will be in the best of moods. I don’t think anyone believes that Jon will actually be burnt alive at this stage of the season but I do anticipate another intense scene such as the Daenarys/Varys scene from last week.

Jaime Lannister walks through an arch in an unknown location in the trailer for Game of Thrones season 7 episode 4 The Queen's Justice.

Jaime borrows Vary’s teleportation machine and heads to Casterly Rock.

Most of the other scenes are of the Unsullied’s assault on Casterly Rock. I think the Unsullied will be victorious here, balancing the wins in the war so far. One interesting question is where Jaime is. There’s a shot of him walking underneath an arch and I believe Vary’s line ‘They know we’re coming’ may be about Casterly Rock. Jaime’s shot looks like there could be a battle going on in the background, possibly placing him at his family home during the Unsullied attack. For an interesting parallel to the War of the Five Kings, I can envision Jaime being captured again.

The only other scene worth talking about is a shot of Sansa in the Godswood, looking somewhat worried or shocked. It could just be some event in Winterfell that demands her attention, or some shocking news from Littlefinger, but I expect the true reason may be Arya’s return. Or a letter about Bran at the wall. Goodness knows we haven’t heard from him since the first episode.

There we have it, what has been and what will be in terms of Game of Thrones this week. Thanks for reading and join me again next week for Episode 3 notes and trailer analysis. To keep up to date with these reviews you can click the follow button to the left or follow me on social media. As ever if you want to read less reviewy and more narrative, you can read my second fiction novel, Carrion Youth, over at Swoonreads.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 1 notes, Comic-Con trailer thoughts and looking ahead to Episode 2

So, I took some time off to focus on writing and publishing but I couldn’t help returning to comment on the new season of Game of Thrones. First, some points on the Season 7 premiere, Dragonstone.

John Bradley-West as the lovable Samwell Tarley at the Citadel in the Game of Thrones season 7 premiere, Dragonstone.

How all Ice and Fire readers react to new Thrones seasons.

  • The opening Frey massacre was brilliant. The reveal of Arya under the Walder Frey mask lost a bit of punch given we seen his throat slit in the Season 6 finale, but it was still a great scene.
  • A lot has already been said about the Ed Sheeran cameo to the point where Ed quit Twitter (he has since returned). I must agree that it detracted from the scene. He should have been more of a background character but instead he seemed to be constantly in the shots with Arya.
  • Sansa is just wrong. Her plan to take lands from traitorous families and give it to loyal ones is the same Lannister tactic that allowed the Bolton’s to take ownership of Winterfell and the North. And look how that worked out for them.
  • I’m surprised Jaime isn’t mad. He ruined his reputation once in order to prevent the burning of King’s Landing only for his sister to do the very thing he tried to prevent years later.
  • Although Daenary’s ‘shall we begin?’ line was a sweet closer, I found it rather absurd that the Dragonstone was completely empty and uninhabited. In the books Stannis leaves a garrison but it’s later taken by the Lannisters in a bloody and costly siege. In the show it seems that no one saw the benefit of a castle which is the first line of defence against an attack from the east.

The Comic-Con trailer doesn’t give us much more than what we already know but we do get some cool shots of Lannister soldiers on the battlefield and indications of where the main stories are going. Jon will look to join with the Targaryens, which is interesting given that Robb was previously reluctant to side with the Baratheons (not that either Stannis or Renly were willing). The notable difference is that Robb was entirely focused on the Seven Kingdoms, whereas Jon is more concerned with the Night King beyond the wall. A conflict of interest that looks to plague him in his dealings with Sansa and the Northerners for the rest of the season.

There’s also a scene in the trailer of Euron riding through King’s Landing to what seems like applause, possibly having provided the gift that he promised Cersei. But with the North, the Reach, Dorne and Daenarys all moving against her, the support of the Iron Isles doesn’t really make up the difference. Even if Littlefinger was to betray Sansa and take the Vale to Cersei, the Lannisters will still be wholly outgunned…unless Euron has a certain dragon horn from the books…

Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy rides through King's Landing to applause in the Game of Thrones Comic-Con trailer.

The last person to ride through King’s Landing to this much fanfare was Margaery Tyrell.

Tonight though, I expect to be much like episode 1: moving all of the characters into place for the big battle set piece to come. The title, Stormborn, suggests that the episode will focus largely on Daenarys. The name was given to Daenarys because of a storm that wrecked most of the Targaryen fleet on the day of the birth. Perhaps the episode title could hint at a naval battle to come? But I’m probably reading too much into it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I’ll probably be back again next week with some notes on episode 2. Until then, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. If you’d like to read more check out the archives. To stay up to date with my writings, you can click the follow button on the right. And if you want to check out my fiction writing, you can read my second novel Carrion Youth for free over at Swoonreads.

Carrion Youth

Three teens aspire to popularity. But when it all goes wrong their party becomes a fight for survival.

Ethan Thomas and Chris Cooper just want to be “high school famous”. When their pursuit of popularity lands Ethan in trouble with the law and and bitten by a homeless man, he’s ready to give up on his dreams. Chris isn’t letting go so easily, and plans to make it up to him with an epic party in Ethan’s own house. It’s a night of firsts; Ethan’s first house part, first kiss and first time coughing up blood. His injury is worse than anyone ever expected and what starts as an out of control party becomes a violent fight for survival.

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My new novel, Carrion Youth is available to read for FREE only on Swoonreads.com.

Swoonreads is an imprint of MacMillan where you get to choose the next best selling novels. Your comments and ratings are considered by Swoonreads when choosing manuscipts for publication, which means when their books hit the shelves it’s because of your influence. There are hundreds of manuscripts to be read, covering every genre you can imagine. So if you love reading and think you know what makes a best seller, head over to Carrion Youth to have your say.

Awakened

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is here. I repeat, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is here. The most anticipated film of 2015 has finally arrived. It could either be the best thing since A New Hope or the largest disaster since Attack of the Clones (yes, I still think it’s worse than The Phantom Menace). This is Star Wars for a new generation and if done right it could endear a world of children to the franchise.

And they did it right. The visuals are stunning, the characters intriguing and the dialogue is a vast improvement on the stiled, hammy lines we got from George Lucas. There are lightsaber fights, blaster shootouts, electrical baton/lightsaber fights and X-Wing/TIE Fighter show downs. There are daring escapes, daring rescues and a whole bunch of other stuff I can’t state without spoiling everything. All you need to know is that it’s good and if you’re excited for this film you should definitely see it as soon as you can.

The First Order's Kylo Ren is the new villain in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, played in the film by Adam Driver.

Love Meeeeeeeeee!

Most people will be excited for reappearances of Leia, Han and Chewy but it’s the new cast members in the forms of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver whose performances bring the narrative to life. Boyega’s character, a turncoat stormtrooper, is one that we haven’t  really seen in the Star Wars franchise thus far and the film has great fun in the opening half hour demonstrating that Finn is actually quite a good shot. Rey is a scavenger pilot who is trying to do the right thing without really getting involved. Somewhat like Han Solo from the original film although she’s much more idealistic and open-minded to the power and effectiveness of the force. And Adam Driver does a great turn as an intimidating, conflicted character who is actually really confused about what the right choice is.

If there is a criticism to be made, it’s that The Force Awakens draws heavily on A New Hope. The story arcs for both films are remarkably similar. There’s enough in here for the series to feel new but there are large structural points which harken back to the first of the original trilogy. Without spoiling anything, the film begins with a droid with a secret on a quiet, desert planet being found by one of the main characters whose help is enlisted to complete it. That’s just the beginning. It’s not a terrible thing for the film to recall A New Hope. When last the franchise tried to be original we got the prequel trilogy. But I do feel that J. J. Abrams played it safe. So long as he followed the original film’s key points, he couldn’t really go wrong.

Mark Hamil's Luke Skywalker is notably absent from the film, aside from a few glimpses.

30 years on, Luke is a myth. There’s your gratitude.

This is just one film though, and it does end somewhat more optimistically than A New Hope. The Force Awakens may hold true to the traditions of the Star Wars franchise but there’s still plenty of potential for the future trilogy entries to take more risks in regards to structure and story development. Regardless of what this film replicates or how the series evolves, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is an intensely enjoyable affair. Treat yourself this Christmas by seeing the best film of 2015.

Speaking of Christmas, this will be my last post for this winter season. I thought it appropriate to end with a big one. But preposterprose will resume in the new year with new reviews and opinion pieces on subjects such as Fallout 4 and the various Christmas specials. Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Jonesing

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to Jessica Jones. Daredevil was good but plagued by structural issues which left me less than enthusiastic for the next installments of Marvel’s alliance  with Netflix. On the contrary though Jessica Jones is a vast improvement on Daredevil. Melissa Rosenberg appears to have a handle on the character and crafting of the overall story arc that were largely missing from Drew Goddard’s Daredevil. In fact, I’d go as far to say this is one of the strongest serial shows to come out of both Marvel and Netflix.

Jessica Jones follows the titular Jessica Jones, a former superhero turned private investigator with a dark and traumatic past. She spends her days and nights drinking and stalking possible cheaters until one case brings her traumatic past to the present. The character, played by Krysten Ritter, was previously brainwashed by supervillain Kilgrave, with David Tennant appearing in the role. Jones managed to escape but now, at the beginning of the series, Kilgrave, who she previously thought to be dead, begins tormenting her once again.

Mike Colter and Krysten Ritter appear as Luke Cage and the titular Jessica Jones in the Marvel-Netflix superhero series, Jessica Jones.

Fighting super villains makes for a great meet cute.

Jones is a very conflicted character, wanting to be good but jaded from her experiences. More than just the typical anti-hero, who is painted as doing bad things for the right reasons, Jones’ story arc is very much about her ability to deal her trauma. Very often superheros are painted as being above human problems. Having a superhero dealing with post-traumatic stress and other psychological issues humanises them but it also makes them much more relatable. Krysten Ritter really brings her best in the role. So much so that she and her character’s personal story arc are two of the main reasons audiences will keep coming back to the series.

Segregation of the character’s personal development and the main plot is another strong reason to watch. Kilgrave is very much tied to Jessica’s growth but it’s not like dealing with him solves her problems. She still has issues and she still has to learn to deal with her issues without isolating herself and half drinking herself to death. But the series never wastes an episode. With Daredevil, there was a feeling that sometimes the episodes dwelled too much on Wilson Fisk without very much actual story progression. But even when Jessica Jones dives into Kilgrave’s background, it’s from Jessica’s perspective and effects both the characters and the story. It’s a very smooth and seamless integration.

David Tennant takes on a villainous role as the menacing mind controller Kilgrave in the latest Marvel-Netflix series, Jessica Jones.

The not so purple man.

If there are any problems with the series they are minor. At 50-something minutes long, episodes still feel a tad long and i’m not sure why Netflix appears to favour the longer format over the traditional 45-ish minutes that most series’ stick by. Aside from that, there’s probably only a couple of major twists that viewers might not see coming. The plot is at times predictable but no less enjoyable thanks to the performances and issues at play. And that’s the problems I had with Jessica Jones. Two small, trivial matters that in no way harmed my appreciation of the series.

Following Jessica Jones, I’m anticipating Luke Cage more and hoping that season 2 of Daredevil has learned from Jessica Jones’ success. But Jessica Jones has set the bar high and I will be eager to see if any of the other Defenders can reach it. Mike Colter does make an appearance as Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and based on that, I’d say the next Marvel-Netflix series is off to a strong start.

Friendship

Last week Marvel released the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War. Releasing the trailer now was a good idea as opinions on the film have been somewhat mixed. Most fans will expect Marvel to deliver a quality film, as all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe entries thus far have been at least above average for the genre. But there are those who worried about the adaptation due to the source material. Reception to the comic book crossover was notably divided. The good news is that the cinematic version appears to be a much more streamlined version, focusing on Captain America’s attempts to protect Bucky Barnes from retribution.

Captain America: Civil War looks set to continue based on the tensions that have been building over the previous Captain America and Avengers films. Captain America: The First Avenger set up Steve Rogers’ friendship with Bucky Barnes, while The Winter Soldier turned that friendship on its head, revealing Bucky to be the titular Winter Soldier. With Hydra’s destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside, Captain America was left fighting to remind Bucky of their prior relationship. In the Ant-Man post-credit reveal, we saw that Captain America and Falcon had finally caught up to Bucky, now with all his memories intact.

Robert Downey Jr. and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles as Iron Man and Bucky Barnes for Captain America: Civil War

The subtitle ‘Iron Man V. Iron Arm’ was shot down in development.

What we can gleam from the trailer is that while Captain America has found Bucky, he’s not ready to give him over to the government to face trial or punishment. Captain America is operating on his own sense of justice and is fighting to be able decide Bucky’s fate. This prompts quite an interesting question of whether The Avengers are a law unto themselves or are an extension of the everyday police forces that simply deal with threats outside the realms of mortal men. And it’s a question that pits Iron Man and Captain America at odds.

Iron man isn’t normally one to side with the government, having spent much of Iron Man 2 trying to keep the Iron Man technology out of the hands of the government, but here he does seem to agree that Captain America isn’t acting lawfully. Iron Man and Captain America have never really gotten along, squaring up in The Avengers and actually fighting over the creation of Vision in Age of Ultron. Tony Stark says that they’re friends but they’ve never really been that close. Not as close as Rogers and Barnes.

Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter joins Anthony Mackie's Falcon, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Chris Evan's Captain America in the battle against Iron Man and the government in Captain America: Civil War.

When friendships are tested can anyone be trusted?

The real question is whether either one is in full knowledge of who they are supporting. Though he made no appearance in the trailer, we know from interviews and press releases that Hydra will return with Brock Rumlow, played by Frank Grillo, appearing as Crossbones. Comic book fans will know that Crossbones is important in Civil War canon. But does that mean he may be on Iron Man’s side, implying that Iron Man may be an unwitting pawn of Hydra. I’m sure Hydra would love to be governing when or where the Avengers can be called into action. Or is it possible that Bucky Barnes is playing at being a double agent? It seems unlikely that Hydra are happy to just lose their best agent.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions but the trailers did reveal a few things, such as the fact that most of the team left at the end of Age of Ultron is on Captain America’s side. Iron Man has War Machine and possibly Black Panther, who is probably pissed that the Avengers waltzed into his country without jurisdiction. Missing, or at least unseen, is Ant-Man, although given Hank Pym’s hatred of the Starks, he may side with Captain America purely out of spite. Captain America: Civil War will hit screens in  2016, but hopefully we get a couple more trailers and a few more answers before then.

Bidding

The government has finally gotten its wish. The Voice UK will no longer air on BBC following the upcoming fifth series. The loss of the talent show from the BBC One channel happened without interference from the government, instead coming about because the BBC were outbid for the continued airing rights. That’s unfortunate news but not groundbreaking. The Voice UK has been a nice alternative to the commercialism of X Factor and ITV but on the whole it has failed to produce any successful music artists.

Ricky Wilson, Paloma Faith, Boy George and Will I Am are the judges for the Fifth series of The Voice UK, and the last series to air on BBC.

Bets on ITV bringing back Tom Jones?

What’s more shocking is who might have outbid BBC for the rights. ITV is looking like the hot favourite at the minute, with some reports suggesting ITV have already signed the contract, while some rumours suggest it’s not a done deal yet. That ITV would want The Voice UK isn’t that surprising. BBC previously outbid ITV for the rights to the show. But it does mean that ITV has monopolised British singing competitions. While I wouldn’t be surprised if ITV aired both The Voice UK and X Factor ( and Britain’s Got Talent) it does seem like it might be overkill. So where does that leave X Factor?

Sky is the most popular choice. X Factor detractors will be happy to see the show gone from freeview and it will largely eliminate competition with The Voice UK. Simon Cowell likely isn’t happy with this outcome however as it leaves the X Factor on a channel where it will get less viewers and subsequently less votes. In a survey of 25.1 million homes in 2012, only 9.4 million were found to own Sky. Can any artist produced by X Factor on Sky really be said to represent the views of the voting public if that voting public represents less than half of UK homes?

Nick Grimshaw, Rita Ora, Cheryl Fernandez Versini and Simon Cowell as the X Factor live shows on ITV.

Rita just heard the news.

Moreover, there’s no guarantee that without the competition from X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent that the The Voice UK will draw better viewing figures or more successful music artists. Because one of the best ways a talent competition can draw an audience is by having a successful participant in the music charts years after the competition has ended. It gives credibility to the contest and the judges and thus far The Voice UK has utterly failed to produce any lasting success for any of its contestants. At least X Factor has had successful winners as well as runner ups who have become mainstays of the British music scene. Chances are The Voice UK will take X Factor’s current Saturday night slot against Strictly Come Dancing and there’s certainly no guarantee that The Voice UK will draw more viewers than Strictly.

The landscape of singing competitions and Saturday night television is changing. Maybe this is a good thing, as some changes to the Saturday night line up might create more engaging and interesting television. On the other hand, lack of direct competition usually allows for complacency which doesn’t generate compelling TV shows. Whatever the outcome, this is one less point that the government can criticise the BBC over.

Spectre

If you were at the cinema this weekend, you were probably there to see the Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as James Bond. Spectre hit screens this week, following 007 in the wake of M’s death in Skyfall. Following some unofficial orders leads Bond to confront his past, both in recent memory and from Bond’s personal history. By the film’s end however it is clear that the events have been building since Daniel Craig’s first appearance in Casino Royale.

Continuity has never been a big issue for the James Bond franchise. The biggest example being that six actors have portrayed the character on screen with barely any reference to how or why. Conversely, George Lazenby’s Bond gets married and her death isn’t avenged until Roger Moore throws Ernst Stavro Blofeld down an industrial chimney. Blofeld himself is played by multiple actors, all sharing distinctive traits and characteristics. But modern audiences want continuity. I’ve talked enough about the continuity in Marvel films. Is this James Bond attempting to cash in on the new found popularity of continuity in film?

Daniel Bond makes his fourth appearance in the role of James Bond in the Sam Mendes directed Spectre.

“Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to chase me around the world.”

Yes, is probably the answer, although not working at Eon films or having even a tedious connection to Sam Mendes, I can’t say for sure. But it seems clear that this is the intention given that Spectre draws on all of the films that came before. Not so much so that Spectre is unwatchable have you not seen the previous three but there are references within harkening back to Bond’s prior adventures. Furthermore, these four films seem to act as an origin for the entire franchise, setting up Bond’s love of Martinis, Aston Martins and one liners.

In terms of quality, Spectre is certainly enjoyable. Fans of the series will instantly recognise SPECTRE from previous novels and films. The criminal organisation has been around from the first Bond film but Spectre rewrites that to reveal this as Bond’s first encounter with the organisation and that the organisation and it’s shadowy leader have largely orchestrated the events of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. Fans who felt that the series was deviating too far from the staples and lore of the franchise will be pleased.

Audiences who just want a good adventure with fights, explosions and seduction should enjoy Spectre as well. In particular, Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx makes a strong appearance. He’s ruthless and tactical, whist shaking off the comedic overtones he delivered as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. But only complaint is that he doesn’t appear enough. In fact, that can be said of SPECTRE and Franz Oberhauser. The villains live up to their SPECTRE namesake, working largely in the background and only making targeted appearances.

Dave Bautista as the brutal and methodical assassin known only as Mr. Hinx in twenty-sixth entry into the James Bond series, Spectre.

Finger on throat means death.

Unfortunately, the lack of a villainous presence leads Bond to do a lot of searching and killing before he gets to where he needs to be. There’s a lot of leg work and the payoff isn’t really worth it. In Skyfall, Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva presents a constant threat and creates much more emotional impact with his targeting of M. The background politics and manipulation of SPECTRE make for a more subdued film, but one without impact. Even the personal reveals lack nuance. Spectre is still an enjoyable film but one without the same power in its twists and turns.

Spectre should appeal to fans and casual viewers alike, being much more like Skyfall than Craig’s initial appearances. Skyfall is the better film, if only for the opening title sequence. The inclusion of a literal octopus in Spectre’s opening is creepy, especially as it gropes nude silhouettes. But odd tentacle touching aside, you could do worse this Halloween than spending your time (and money) on Spectre.

Last

You guys are fortunate to get a preposterousprose blog this week. That’s not arrogance on my part but rather a comment on the fact that I’ve been without internet for the better part of this week. I am well aware that if no post presented itself, the world would keep turning unphased. But I do have my fans and my readers, that’s you guys, and you pleasent, diligent few will be pleased to know that at the final hour a technician arrived to sort out the fault in the line, allowing this post to make itself to you.

It had better be worth it then, right? Well, I wish I could say I’m reviewing something extremely entertaining this week, but actually I’m looking at BBC Two’s The Last Kingdom. You can surmise my thoughts on the program from that statement alone but I’d like to dig a little deeper into what is essentially a poor man’s Vikings. Because at the root that’s what this program is. It’s the BBC’s attempt to replicate the success of violent, sword and shield dramas such as Vikings and Game of Thrones but it sorely misses the mark.

Alexander Dreymon appears as Uhtred of Bebbanburg in BBC's historical drama, The Last Kingdom.

Needs more hairy breeches.

Matthew MacFadyen, formerly of BBC’s Ripper Street, appears as Lord Uhtred of the the Kingdom of Northumbria, tasked with fending off a wave of Danes, who have come to claim part of England as their own. Uhtred underestimates the Danes and gets a sword through his throat for his trouble. His son, eager to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of the Danes, sneaks onto the battlefield. Obviously he doesn’t get far, and is captured, being raised among the Vikings. Similarities are easy to make between the young boy Uhtred, and Athelstan, George Blagden’s kidnapped monk in Vikings. Both are taken from their homeland and raised in a foreign culture, constantly battling between the life they knew and the life that have adopted.

However, one key difference is that I never sympathised with Uhtred the way I did with Athelstan. That’s partly to do with perspective. The Last Kingdom is very much shown through the perspective of Uhtred, an English boy but I never got the sense that he was very English or Christian prior to his capture. And he seems to slot quite easily into the new life. Athelstan was very lucky to have Ragnar’s protection in Vikings, but Ragnar did have an ulterior motive and Athelstan still struggled accept some of the pagan customs.

Travis Femmel stars as the legendary Ragnar Lothbrok in History's drama based on the exploits of the mythical character in Vikings.

The Last Kingdom might sate your Norse longings until Vikings season 4.

I should say that I’m aware that The Last Kingdom is based on a series of books by Bernard Cornwell, first published in 2004, a little less than ten years before Vikings landed on our screens. But the series itself was only commissioned in 2014, a year after Vikings had already looted our hearts. The timing of the matter leaves it difficult to believe that this isn’t an attempt to cash in on the success of other historical fiction TV series. This isn’t going to quash the Conservative criticism that the BBC “behaves in an overly commercial way encroaching on TV genres and formats that could be served well by its commercial competitors”.

It is great that a fellow writer has seen such success but I do wish the end product was more exciting. The Last Kingdom is more historically accurate than Vikings and the building of the shield wall is a nice visual, but unfortunately the show lacks character depth. This first episode did nothing to get me invested in the show and I don’t know if I’m interested enough to continue watching next week. If you’ve seen Vikings and found yourself thinking ‘I want to see more of England’, then maybe this is for you. Otherwise, skip it.