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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Big Brained Book: A Review of The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.

Bears waving.
Hey, how's everyone doing today?

I hope everyone enjoyed last week’s post. I hope you had a lot of fun revisiting The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids cause I certainly did. I very much see where my interest in the supernatural and horror kinda started. But we’re not talking about the supernatural today though. Instead we’re going to talk about history and mystery.

We have a special review this week. This week’s review is brought to you by Novel Suspect’s Insiders Club; they aren’t paying me for my review they just sent me the book for free. A huge thank you goes out to Novel Suspects and Grand Central Publishing for sending me a copy of today’s book. It means a lot to me that you want to send me books. Thank you again so much.

Now please welcome to the stage: The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry!

Book cover of The Last Kingdom by Steve Berry.

As always, a spoiler alert is in order; you’ve been warned. I also must include the following disclosure. I didn’t read the entirety of this book and cannot tell you any content or trigger warnings it may include. This is a first for me, but I could not finish this book. I gave up on page 200. I will talk about this more after my synopsis, but if you are interested in this book I sadly cannot give you content and trigger warnings. So let’s get to the synopsis.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was an eccentric man to say the least. In our story, he wishes to found a new kingdom. A kingdom that he has full control over and can shape the way he wants. But first he needs to find that place.

He will not be traveling to find this place himself though, he has people to do that for him.

Cut to 150-years later. King Ludwig II died under very mysterious circumstances and he never found that kingdom he so desperately wanted. Bavaria ended up becoming part of Germany, and Ludwig’s descendants have a title but no power. Or so the world thinks. Prince Albert, the heir to the Duke of Bavaria title, has enlisted the services of a mysterious group to find the lost kingdom so he can rule.

It is Albert’s belief that King Ludwig did indeed find the kingdom he so desperately wanted and hid the deed and information away before his mysterious death. Long story short, Albert is right. Now, various government organizations from the United States and China, the mysterious group Albert hired, and another local group that lowkey seems like a cult are all on the hunt to find the lost kingdom. Each group has different reasons for wanting this kingdom found or stay hidden.

I can’t talk much about the plot past the what I’ve already said. As mentioned previously, I only made it roughly halfway through this novel. I made it to page 200 to be exact and there are 464 pages in total. I skimmed through the rest and can tell you there are cyphers and such to solve, but I cannot tell you when those aspect begin occurring. I also can’t tell you the names of the various groups hunting for the titular kingdom as I don’t know who’s who.

Chrissy Teigen cringe face.
I read 200 pages yet know nothing.

So why could I not finish this book? Why did I give up on The Last Kingdom? For starters, I had no clue who was who. Nor did I know who worked for who. I found the introduction to the main characters to be greatly lacking. The Last Kingdom apparently isn’t a stand-alone novel, which I did not realize when I first received it, I thought this was a stand-alone mystery, adventure novel. The characters and world of The Last Kingdom are one Steve Berry writes in often; the back cover boasts that this is “the latest Cotton Malone adventure.” As a first time reader of Cotton Malone’s adventures, I do not know any of the characters, and as I said, the introduction to them was greatly lacking. This is not a good entry point for readers wanting to get into the Cotton Malone series. It also makes it difficult for readers who would pick this up in bookstores on a whim.

I should also note that this book is told in dual-POV. There are at least five different points-of-view. The plot is confusing to begin with, I don’t have a proper introduction to the characters, I don’t know who’s who; I had to stop many times and go back to figure out who was narrating a chapter. I needed help, I needed a lot of help. The only person who was easily identifiable for me was Albert and that’s only because he’s the bad guy…I think. I don’t know who I was supposed to be rooting for in all honesty.

Chrissy Teigen cringe face.
Is it too soon to use this again?

The issues don’t stop there though. The plot gets confusing fast. This is partially an issue with the lack of character introduction and simply because the plot is flat-out confusing. I failed to mention in my synopsis that this book also involves precious earth metals, the US stealing Hawaii, conspiracy theories, double/triple agents, and a whole lot more; as I’ve said, it gets confusing fast. I had no idea what was happening for those 200 pages. There was far too much going on. I felt very small brained while reading The Last Kingdom.

Math Lady meme
I've never felt more like this lady than I did while reading The Last Kingdom.

Next let’s circle back to the US stealing Hawaii. That is true, that is something that did happened, very much recommend you learn about this history topic if you haven’t done so. Anyway, major spoilers ahead so skip this part of the review if you don’t want that. Also, I’m sorry in advance cause I can’t properly describe this issue. InThe Last Kingdom, King Kalàkaua of Hawaii named King Ludwig II his heir and deeded away Hawaii. All I can say are the vibes are off. The way it’s presented just did not sit right with me. It felt icky. The vibes are off. Very, very off. I feel like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here cause no one else seems to have this issue. Perhaps I’m having this issue because Queen Lili’uokalani, the first and last queen regnant of Hawaii, is an absolute badass whose rule came directly after Kalàkaua’s so this kinda feels like Lili’uokalani erasure in a way. I’m sorry, like I said I can’t properly describe this issue and I’ve went on a really odd tangent.

Famous photo of Queen Lili'uokalani.
Please look up this woman cause she's amazing.

So yeah, I had a hard time with this one. The Last Kingdom is too big brained for me. I will say this in Steve Berry’s favor though. Steve Berry painstakingly details and researches the history he includes in his novels. I remember that clearly from when I read and reviewed The Omega Factor last year, which I did finish and enjoyed, and said level of detail and research shows once again in The Last Kingdom. King Ludwig II is a very interesting topic. My favorite part of this novel was when Berry went into detail about King Ludwig’s life. I also adored the painstakingly detailed castle settings. Seriously, those castles are gorgeous! Steve Berry’s high caliber of research and writing is absolutely in this novel, I simply could not follow along. This book is not for me.

With that, I shall bid you all adieu. I have a book that is much more my speed coming for ya next week. I’ll see ya then with a new review. And once again thank you to Novel Suspects Insider's Club and Grand Central Publishing for sending me a copy of The Last Kingdom.

Until next time, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!

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