Seven Kings Must Die ties up the remaining plot from The Last Kingdom. However, it must make a big book change to the book’s ending to do so.
Warning! SPOILERS for Seven Kings Must Die!
Seven Kings Must Die deviates heavily from its source material, including making a much-needed ending change to the book series. As always, in adaptations between literature and the screen, some changes are necessary to finish the story in a way that best suits the medium and the abridged story, even when it deviates from the source material. The Last Kingdom and, by proxy, Seven Kings Must Die change many elements of the original novels and have done throughout their production. As such, it makes sense that the series and film lead to a significantly different ending in Seven Kings Must Die than the one found in the books.
Seven Kings Must Die is a sequel to The Last Kingdom series and is roughly based on the book series The Saxon Stories. The film catches up with Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon), with his lands and estate returned to him, and he has had peace for several years. In the meantime, the Danes continue attempting to invade, and the Anglo-Saxon throne is vacant after King Edward’s (Timothy Innes) death. This conflict eventually culminates in the Battle of Brunanburh and the uniting of the English people, in which Uhtred plays a critical role. He ensures that the next king, Aethelstan (Harry Gilby), will be able to achieve Alfred’s (David Dawson) of a united England.
How The Last Kingdom Movie Changes The Book’s Ending
After the Battle of Brunanburh in Seven Kings Must Die, the movie closes with Uthred seemingly reaching Valhalla as the seventh king to die. This allows Uthred to swear Northumbria to Aethelstan to form a united England before his death and fully tie up the ongoing political plot. Naturally, this was impossible in the books, because Uhtred narrates them. The books end with a largely similar battle with Aethelstan and Uhtred on one side and Anlaf (Pekka Strang), Constantine (Rod Hallett), Owain of Strath Clota (John Buick), and others opposing them. But the difference is that the series also ends with Aethelstan ordering Uhtred to marry so that he becomes the Lord of the North.
Why Seven Kings Must Die Needed To End With Uhtred’s Death
However, it makes more sense for the series and film to end with Uhtred’s death, as it makes for a more satisfying narrative ending. The film can end with Uhtred’s death because the franchise is not narrated by him as the books are, allowing the production to give him a warrior’s ending, befitting all that he has accomplished throughout the franchise. But even beyond giving his character a fitting conclusion, Uhtred’s death in Seven Kings Must Die further explains why the franchise ended with the movie instead of season 5.
Primarily, The Last Kingdom franchise continued after season 5 because the series ended with King Edward’s ascendancy to the throne. But the books went further than this by establishing Aethelstan’s rule, meaning that the series had more stories to tell. Seven Kings Must Die takes events to the height of this conflict by showing the “true” ending of the series with Uhtred’s death (or at least the implication of it being impending). This ties up Uhtred’s arc while also providing the historical context of the true unification of England.
The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die is now streaming on Netflix.