After Saxon Uhtred’s (Alexander Dreymon) father is killed by marauding Danes he is taken as a slave by Earl Ragnar (Peter Gantzler) and his lands are handed over to his opportunistic uncle. Ragnar becomes fond of Uhtred and chooses to adopt him raising him as a son alongside his own son, Young Ragnar (Tobias Santelmann). Uhtred is happy living as a Dane but when Ragnar’s enemy Kjartan (Alexandre Willaume) murders him and Uhtred is blamed he has no choice but to escape with, fellow slave, Brida (Emily Cox) and return to Saxon land.
Now Uhtred will have to convince pious Christian King, Alfred (David Dawson) that his knowledge of the Danes makes him an asset rather than a liability and that his loyalties can be counted on. It won’t be easy though as most of Alfred’s advisor’s are horrified by Uhtred’s arrogance and wild pagan ways and Brida longs desperately for her old Danish life.
This series is based on the Bernard Cornwell novels of the same name. For those who don’t know, Bernard Cornwell writes historical fiction that blends actual events and historical figures with imagined ones. I read quite a few of his novels when I first moved to the UK and greatly enjoyed them so when fellow blogger, Cindy recommended this Netflix original I decided I had to check it out.
On the plus side, the story is really exciting and full of epic fights. Also Alexander Dreymon is outrageously hot. I think you could cook an egg just standing in the same room as him. I mean I would watch him watch paint dry. I like the fact that it’s semi-historically accurate and the culture clash between the carpe diem Danes and the super religious Saxons is really interesting and compelling. I loved the friendship between Uhtred and Saxon solider, Leofric (Adrian Bower) and I would go as far as to say that Leofric was my favourite character.
The female characters are strong, Brida in particular and I enjoyed seeing what influence both Alfred’s wife, Aelswith (Eliza Butterworth) and Uhtred’s multiple wives and lovers, especially Iseult (Charlie Murphy) had on these two powerful men.
It’s not all positive though. Dreymon’s acting starts out a bit ropey and he is massively overshadowed by David Dawson. The result is that Alfred is initially a much more interesting and exciting character than Uhtred, which I don’t think is intentional. Dreymon definitely improves as the series goes on but it took me a while to warm to Uhtred’s personality rather than just his beautiful face… which isn’t helped by the fact that he starts out immensely arrogant and with the capacity to be a bit of a dickhead. There is also a bit of a lag in the middle of the season but it picks up so much at the end that I am glad I stuck with it.
I am looking forward to jumping into season 2 and I wanted to say thank you to Cindy for the recommendation!