Why The Last Kingdom fans will love the Richard Sharpe series by the same author

Before starting The Last Kingdom books, bestselling author Bernard Cornwell began writing the unforgettable, ongoing journey of Richard Sharpe, a soldier in the Napoleonic Wars.
Richard Sharpe played by Sean Bean
Richard Sharpe played by Sean Bean / Larry Ellis Collection/GettyImages

The Last Kingdom and its incredible protagonist Uhtred of Bebbanburg introduced 21st century audiences to the work and characters of bestselling author Bernard Cornwell. Many may not know Cornwell has been writing excellent historical fiction books for more than four decades. That includes The Saxon Stories books, which Netflix adapted as The Last Kingdom.

But The Saxon Stories are just the tip of the iceberg. In the early 1980s, Cornwell started writing a series of about a dozen books featuring the same character: Richard Sharpe. These books took place during the Napoleonic Wars which were fought in the early decades of the 19th century.

Once Cornwell etched out Sharpe's career over those 12 books, he went back and started to fill in gaps in the timeline, writing several books developing Sharpe's backstory and how the hero came to be where he was when Cornwell first started writing the character.

The result is a series of 23 books, with a 24th on the way, one novelette and one short story. They cover the breadth of the military career of the Duke of Wellington and all of the battles between Britain and France in Portugal and Spain. Like with The Last Kingdom and other series, Cornwell tells this historical story through the eyes of a fictional character. In The Last Kingdom, Cornwell told the story of the unification of Britain through the eyes and actions of Uhtred, who was played by Alexander Dreymon in the Netflix series. He tells Wellington's story and that of the defeat of Napoleon through the eyes of Richard Sharpe.

Uhtred of Bebbanburg vs Richard Sharpe

But don't mistake Richard Sharpe for Uhtred. While they do share some of the same traits, like their greatness as warriors and their ability to garner loyalty from others, Sharpe is quiet and introverted, the exact opposite of the outgoing Uhtred. Sharpe reluctantly accepts any accolades his actions may bring him, and is generally happy to escape the attention of his superiors. Uhtred embraces any reward as his earned right and seldom avoids being the center of attention.

The Sharpe books are mostly character-driven and fairly easy to read. They are a bit a bit shorter than most of The Last Kingdom books, and are usually fast-paced with interesting aspects of the Napoleonic Wars described. They tilt more toward military history, though there are personal tidbits here and there.

Like The Last Kingdom, some of the Sharpe books have made it to television. From 1993 through 2008, there were 18 episodes aired over seven seasons, with Sharpe portrayed by Sean Bean. The "episodes" are more like movies than episodes of television. The Sharpe series streams on Britbox, and episodes can be purchased on a variety of platforms.

This series could easily be re-imagined and updated for the new television audiences. People who enjoyed The Last Kingdom would probably tune into an action series in a slightly more modern setting, though still very historical. If you are more into reading than watching television, and you enjoyed The Last Kingdom, the Sharpe series might be a treat for you.

All the Sharpe books in chronological order

If reading is your thing, be sure to read the Sharpe books in chronological order and not the order in which they were written. With thanks to Fantastic Fiction, we'll list all the books in chronological order below:

  1. Sharpe's Tiger (1997)
  2. Sharpe's Triumph (1998)
  3. Sharpe's Fortress (1999)
  4. Sharpe's Trafalgar (2000)
  5. Sharpe's Prey (2001)
  6. Sharpe's Rifles (1988)
  7. Sharpe's Havoc (2003)
  8. Sharpe's Eagle (1981)
  9. Sharpe's Gold (1981)
  10. Sharpe's Escape (2004)
  11. Sharpe's Fury (2006)
  12. Sharpe's Battle (1995)
  13. Sharpe's Company (1982)
  14. Sharpe's Sword (1983)
  15. Sharpe's Skirmish (1999) (novelette)
  16. Sharpe's Enemy (1984)
  17. Sharpe's Honor (1985)
  18. Sharpe's Regiment (1986)
  19. Sharpe's Christmas (2003) (short story)
  20. Sharpe's Siege (1987)
  21. Sharpe's Revenge (1989)
  22. Sharpe's Waterloo (1990)
  23. Sharpe's Assassin (2021)
  24. Sharpe's Devil (1992)
  25. Sharpe's Command (2023)
  26. Sharpe's Storm (2024) (forthcoming)

These books are well worth the time commitment, especially if you enjoy Cornwell's historical writing style.

Next. All 5 seasons of The Last Kingdom (and the movie), ranked worst to best. All 5 seasons of The Last Kingdom (and the movie), ranked worst to best. dark

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