‘Seven Kings Must Die’: Who Are the Seven Kings? Is It Based on the Books?

Uhtred In Seven Kings Must Die Collage 1
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The Last Kingdom concluded before Alfred’s vision of a united Britain could be achieved. Since Seven Kings Must Die is supposed to end the story of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the movie’s release is welcome news to many fans. Despite being based on Bernard Cornwell’s book series, Saxon Stories, the franchise is always difficult to predict. The Seven Kings Must Die trailer didn’t give too much away either, leaving many fans wondering who the seven kings that must die are and whether the movie is still based on the books.

There are different interpretations of who the seven kings might be, but the most likely one is the death of five kings and seven of king Anlaf’s earls in the great battle of Brunanburh, which king Aethelstan won. The movie starts after the death of king Edward, placing it in Cornwell’s sixth book, Death of Kings, which covers Edward’s death and the ensuing chaos. The main part of the plot will cover the battle of Brunanburh, which left a united Britain, also covered in Cornwell’s thirteenth book, War Lord.

The trailer hints at the possibility of the seven kings in question having already died, meaning it is possible that the prophecy was referring to kings that died in The Last Kingdom since Aethelred I, and not necessarily those supposed to die in the future. That interpretation would mean that Aethelstan could have to face his half-brother Aelfweard, to become the king of the Saxons before leading them into the battle of Brunanburgh. The question, therefore, remains, which interpretation brings the number of kings to seven? And does Uhtred survive all of this?

Who are the seven kings that must die?

seven kings must die april 3 jpeg

The movie’s title is based on a prophecy told to Uhtred by the Dane prophetess Aelfadell in Death Of Kings, which said seven kings would die and all of the women that Uhtred loved. It is unclear whether it meant Saxon kings that Uhtred will see die during his lifetime or all the seven kings in question would die in a single battle.

The prophecy is also contradictory in some accounts because it says Wessex would fall and the Danes would take England, but Aethelstan is not a Dane. The only bottom line is that Britain unites after these kings die, and Uhtred has a big role to play, which is what the movie is about.

“Seven kings will die, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, seven kings and the women you love. That is your fate. And Alfred’s son will not rule, Wessex will die, the Saxon will kill what he loves, and the Danes will gain everything…” the prophecy says.

Uhtred’s lovers have all died since the beginning of The Last Kingdom, which means the prophecy has been fulfilled thus far. As for seven kings, kings that have died since Uhtred allied himself with the Danes can add up to seven if the kings of Danes and Northumbria that have died in the show are included.

Edward’s death would bring the number of dead Saxon kings to three, six if King Osbert, Aella, and Edmund of Northumbria, who died earlier in the show, are included. Any of the lesser kings, such as King Guthrum of the Danes and Aethelred of Mercia, bring the number to seven, making the prophecy correct on account of kings who have already died.

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It is also possible that the title refers to the five kings that died during the battle of Brunanburh, including seven of king Anlaf’s earls, as told in British folklore and Cornwell’s books. The battle will determine Uhtred’s fate and that of England in the upcoming movie.

The Battle established Aethelstan as the king of all of Britain after he defeated a large army of Danes, Scots, and other lesser leaders from around the country. The five kings that died include Constantine of Scotland, who was already introduced in the final season of The Last kingdom.

Anlaf the Dane, whose death alongside his seven earls is part of the tales of the battle of Brunanburgh, is likely to be introduced in the movie and align himself with Constantine against Uhtred and Aethelstan.

The other kings that die in the big battle from Bernard Cornwell’s book are Owain of Strathclyde, Thorfinn of Orkney, and Gibleachán of Sudreyar, among other lesser rulers. However, there is no way of narrowing down all the kings that died in that battle to just seven unless the movie introduces two more kings fighting alongside Constantine of Scotland.

Is Seven Kings Must Die based on the books?

The battle of Brunanburgh in Seven Kings Must Die

The Last Kingdom franchise is based on Bernard Cornwell’s book series The Saxon Stories, and Seven Kings Must die also maintains the trend. By the end of the show’s fifth season, Uhtred took back his homeland of Bebbanburgh, but he didn’t unite all the English kingdoms under one ruler.

The movie is supposed to bring Uhtred’s story to a conclusion, which means it will cover all the events in the remaining books up to War Lord, which covers the major battle of Brunanburh.

While the TV show and the movie are based on the books, the producers have deviated from the book’s storyline multiple times, and it is impossible to predict the events in the show and the movie by simply reading the books.

The most important thing from the books is that Uhtred of Bebbanburgh doesn’t die after his many battles. Uhtred, in his sixties, contemplates the future at the end of the last book, but that might not be the case in the movie as the show proved that any of the major characters can be killed off.

Since Edward left Aethelstan in Uhtred’s care by the end of The Last Kingdom, it is obvious that Uhtred will be the young king’s father figure in the movie, making him the ultimate kingmaker in the franchise since the crowning of Alfred The Great.

Other minor location and character details, such as the battle of Brunanburh and the kings that unite against Aethelstan, are likely to stay the same in the movie as they are in the last three books.

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Who stars in Seven Kings Must Die?

Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred in Seven Kings Must Die 1

Alexander Dreymon stars as the lead actor playing the protagonist Uhtred of Bebbanburgh, which is welcome news for many fans because he nailed the role in all five seasons of The Last Kingdom. Mark Rowley also returns in the role of Uhtred’s right-hand man Finan.

Aethelstan is still played by Harry Gilby, turning him into a major character in the movie and the face of the king that unites all of England at the end.

Other familiar faces from The Last Kingdom include Edward Northcote as Lord Aldhelm or Mercia, Arnas Fedaravicius as Sihtric, and Cavan Clerkin as Fr. Pyrlig the warrior priest. All of them will be Uhtred’s supporters and henchmen in the war.

Rod Hallet also returns as King Constantin of Scotland and the main villain that unites the other kings against Aethelstan and Uhterd.

There has been no confirmation of the return of Eliza Butterworth as Lady Aelswith, although it could still happen. The same goes for Ruby Hartley as Stiorra because she is Uhtred’s daughter and the future heir of Bebbanburgh.

Where was Seven Kings Must Die filmed?

Finan in Seven Kings Must Die 1

Like all the five seasons of The Last Kingdom, Seven Kings Must Die was filmed in Budapest, Hungary. The production started in late 2022, just after the conclusion of the filming of The Last Kingdon season five.

Fans can therefore expect the locations in the movie to be similar to what they saw in the last season of The Last Kingdom, especially the castle in Wessex and Bebbanburgh.

There will be more focus on Bebbanburgh and Northumbria than Wessex in the movie, meaning fans will see less of the elegant castle in Wessex.

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