The Last Horse Review

The Last Horse by MJ Porter

Welcome back! I’m so excited about this book today – this series is really sweeping me up. Without further ado, here’s my The Last Horse review.

Publisher: BooksGoSocial | Date: 2020 | Genre: Historical fiction

Plot: The Raiders have been routed from Torksey, dead, or escaped.

Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters, her new king a warrior not a ruler. And as he endures his coronation, as demanded by the bishops and ealdormen, there are stirrings from the east.

Coelwulf must again take to the trackways of Mercia. His destination, any place where the Raiders are trying to infiltrate the kingdom he’s fought so hard to keep whole, losing beloved friends in the process.

The year is AD874 and Mercia lies threatened. But Coelwulf, and his loyal warriors, have vowed to protect Mercia with their lives. They’re not about to stop now.

I received The Last Warrior from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Last Horse Review

The Last Horse Review

My trouble with ARCs is that it spreads series out with long gaps in-between books. However, I’ve read The Ninth Century in quick succession and love it – I’m so invested in these characters: who lives, who dies, schemes cooked up, battles fought… Reading the books (almost) back to back means the names have stopped confusing me and I can’t turn the pages fast enough.

I’ve enjoyed the previous two volumes, but The Last Horse goes the extra mile. There’s something about this war-band with their big hearts and friendships with their horses that speaks to me. I admit the title made me fearful for my favourite four-legged character but – thankfully – those fears were in vain.

Coewulf is now king – he’s got the crown to prove it, even if keeping it on his head proves problematic, much to Rudolf’s amusement. This hasn’t changed him though: there’s Raiders to expel from his land and he only goes through with the formalities to please his aunt and guarantee men. Politics are for others.

He’s a strong leader who will do whatever it takes to protect those who follow him. But he knows his weaknesses and limitations and it makes him such a relatable protagonist you have to like him. You’ve always known he’d do anything to save his men, but this one proves it: he’d ride out, barely defended, if that’s what it took to bring them home. Coewulf faces impossible odds alone, and the only thing concerning him is if his men have made it to safety.

They’ve been victors here, but in their victory, they’ve suffered, and they’ll endure more hardship yet. But they’re my warriors, men of Mercia, and we were born to be persistent f***ers. We’re not about to f***ing stop now.

The Last Horse by MJ POrter

Porter introduces multiple generations this time. It adds a fantastic dynamic to the group: tough soldiers have different priorities when involving their sons or grandsons, injecting levity and humour, and adding momentum at otherwise quiet points of the book. It’s also enjoyable watching Coewulf squirm: he’s the king of Mercia, but he doesn’t dare cross his aunt and what she’s planning.

All the characters feel real. There’s no shying away from the events that have brought them to this point. If they’ve been through something traumatic, they damn well feel it, are haunted by it, and their actions are affected. It would have been too easy to make them unfeeling but the balance is perfect.

The Last Horse brings the fight to the Raiders. The tension and pace felt higher than before; they’re not hunting down their enemy, they’re rooting them out and dealing them a blow they hopefully won’t recover from. I love the tactics used and the faint optimism threaded throughout that they might actually have a chance of winning this.

Following the style of the previous books, the prologue introduces a worrying situation for Coewulf. Avoiding spoilers, I’ll only say this was such a satisfying ending!

This isn’t a light book. But it reminded me of the sheer pleasure of reading – I was gripped, devouring it with a huge grin because it swept me up in the story, the characters and the way events were unfolding. I can’t recommend this series enough!

Are you a historical fiction fan? Does this sound like your kind of thing?

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26 thoughts on “The Last Horse by MJ Porter

  1. Great review! I really appreciate when characters feel real – it’s easier to connect with them. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Oooo! I hadn’t heard of this series before now but your review really wants me to pick up the first book now. I love relatable historic characters and I need all the help I can get when reading tough situations! Great review, hun!

    Daisy xoxo | AccordingToDaisy

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