The Last Kingdom

Following the huge success of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the BBC is ready to get medieval on your (ahem) television screen.

In a press release, BBC America announced that Carnival Films, which produced Downton Abbey, will adapt Bernard Cornwell’s book series The Saxon Stories for the screen. The TV series, to be titled The Last Kingdom, is set in the year 872. It will follow the various kingdoms that occupy what is now modern England as they deal with the threat of the Vikings.

Stephen Butchard (Good Cop, House of Saddam) will adapt Cornwell’s work. The author is also known for writing the “Sharpe” series of novels, which were structured around the Napoleonic Wars and became a TV series which starred Sean Bean, now known for Game of Thrones.

The Last Kingdom centers around Uhtred, a Saxon who has been orphaned by the Vikings and then raised as one of them. He’ll struggle with his two identities as he quests throughout a kingdom full of deceit and warfare. Unlike other medieval-fantasy fare, The Last Kingdom promises to be pure historical fiction and to include Alfred the Great, the man who first united England. But it’s hard to imagine the show straying too far from formula; though BBC America hasn’t announced the cast list, it’s easy to imagine the description for at least one of the characters was “a Sean Bean type.”

If its first season is successful, BBC America can also count on the possibility of longevity for The Saxon Stories. So far, Cornwell has published seven installments, with an eighth book, dubbed The Empty Throne, expected out this fall.