So, at the end of the incoming fifth series, quality Netflix TV series The Last Kingdom with finally come to an end. It’s a series that has delivered consistently enjoyable television and, thanks to it being adapted from pre-existing novels, has really boasted strong plots and characters, as well as a great sense of historical time and place.
But now The Last Kingdom TV series is coming to an end and that leaves, at least in my mind, a huge hole to fill. Set in 9th and 10th century England, The Saxon Stories series from which The Last Kingdom has been adapted, transported readers back to the culture of the day really well and, with its great mix of historical and fictional characters, as well as overarching vikings vs saxons conflict, made for compelling viewing, too.
And that got me thinking of just what Netflix, who is currently locked in a fierce battle against Disney Plus, should commission to fill the whole left by The Last Kingdom. And one absolute classic tale sprang to mind – Sword at Sunset.
Sword at Sunset, as written by Rosemary Sutcliff, is an exceptional work of historical fiction that sees Artos (a more realistic period name of Arthur, who is Sutcliff’s King Arthur) recount his life and leadership under the rule of his uncle, the Romano British high king Ambrosius, who is leading the British kingdoms’ resistance to the invading Saxons.
As with The Last Kingdom, Sword at Sunset mixes real life characters such as Ambrosius and Arthur (come at me, doubting Dark Age scholars!) with fictional ones, and is very much a realist retelling of Arthur’s life and legendary feats and battles.
And, let me tell you, Sword at Sunset is one of the top five books I have ever read – and I’ve read War and Peace! It’s a book that is both massively informed by real history (texts like Arthur’s Britain and The Age of Arthur) and presents a scarily real depiction of Artos, his battles and living in the immediate aftermath of Roman Britain, but also weaves in romance, treachery and a few of the fictional legends that became connected with Arthur’s name in later ages, too.
Simply put, it would be the perfect follow-up Netflix series to The Last Kingdom. It’s swords and shields historical fiction set during a time of invasion but where there is a wide-range of characters, locations and cultures. Artos finds himself all over what would become Britain in later centuries during the novel, too, from the London area to the west country and all the way up north and into Pictland (read modern day Scotland).
There’s romance, warfare, politics, travel, religion, a historical setting, intrigue and much more, and judging by how long The Last Kingdom has run (5 seasons!), there is big interest in that. It’s also a novel that you could not make into a film as you simply couldn’t fit everything in.
Then, when you factor in that Sword at Sunset is a retelling of the life and times of King Arthur, who most people already know of and can relate to, and to me at least you’re staring at the next smash hit TV series for Neflix. A TV series that with Disney Plus tearing it up with awesome TV like WandaVision and Loki, and soon Obi-Wan Kenobi, it needs desperately.
Just do it right OK guys, as Sword of Sunset the novel is a masterpiece.