Your Questions

Q

Finally it occurred to me!  I'm up to date on the Last Kingdom Series, and just finished watching the newly released third season of The Last Kingdom on Netflix, and it took until now for me to release what Uhtred is in the series.  Initially I thought he was just a device to allow the history to be told as a captivating human story, which of course he is, and it is, as are most key non-historical characters in great historical fiction.  But I realized that the reason the character is so compelling and captivating, is that Uhtred the character is intended to be England itself.  He has a mixed background, because of course the England that emerges in the story is comprised and the results of contributions from the different peoples in the land.  He is part of all the great battles depicted, both historical, and battles intended to stand in for a series of historical battles, because that's what England was forged through.  England is forged by the good fortune of having two strong kings back to back fighting for the same vision, so of course that is Uhtred's path to serve those two kings.  He is both Christian and Pagan, as were the people of the land, and even the dominant Christianity that emerges subsumes key elements of the Paganism of the story.

Anyways that might be right or wrong, but it was a fun thought.

Thanks!  And thanks for the great story telling.

Adam Waese

A

It is a fun thought – and yes, partly intentional.  He’s also, of course, totally confused about what’s happening – so nothing changes!  Thank you!

 


Q

I am going to try and claim the Biggest Fan title. First read every single series (except sailing) and stand alone book. Then bought and watched all the old Sharpe DVDs. Then got all the same books in audio and listened!

I am halfway through Kingdom Season 3. I think it is great, although it obviously has some big departures from the books. I am always curious what authors think when this happens. Were you consulted on any of them or asked to give any input on the changes? What is your opinion on the ones that were made?

Ron Filipkowski

 

Hi Mr Cornwell

I just finished watching Season 3 of The Last Kingdom and it was great!! Looking forward to Season 4 but I have only one question - do you also like what the producers have done to the story?? It's not criticism, the series is fantastic, but I am a purist at heart.

Thank you for all your books they provide HOURS of entertainment and escape into history.

Judith

 

 

A

I am not consulted - nor do I want to be!  My thoughts are to were to sit back and enjoy the series!  And I did. Yes, they changed things, but they have constraints (time and budget) that I don’t have and I truly think the compromises they made were terrific.


Q

Hello, am watching The Last Kingdom and find Alfred to be very lacking in the milk of human kindness so to speak as well as without gratitude for Uhtred's   (fictional ) sacrifices . and have to say, his stupidity. Where did this aspect of his character come from and is it factual?  Also have read the date he died was recorded but not whether it was his illness or something else. How can this be. Thank you.

Kai Roberts

A

Alfred has two over-riding ambitions. The first is to make his kingdom a Christian realm . . . which he conceives of as a duty. He was an extremely pious, as well as extremely intelligent, king. His second ambition, which he did not live to realise, was to unite the ‘English-speaking folk’ into one nation.  Uhtred runs counter to his first ambition, but he knows he’s vital to the second, which is why he tolerates him, and indeed uses him. There’s plenty of human kindness in Alfred, he’s a sincere Christian, but also a Christian king under immense pressure, and while he tolerates Uhtred, he doesn’t indulge him. Uhtred knows this. Yes, he pushes his luck too often, but in the end he has an immense respect for Alfred. Don’t worry about incidents where they irritate each other – they are bonded and reconcile before Alfred’s death. Alfred is, in many ways, a puritan – he’s the very opposite of Uhtred, they’re chalk and cheese, but in the end they are on the same side and have a grudging respect for each other.


Q

Hello Bernard -

I've asked questions before and possibly they've been more of the norm of this Q&A section. But two came to me whilst watching the third series of The Last Kingdom. Oh, quickly I'll slip in that I loved War of the Wolf. Still astounds me how you manage to keep it so vibrant and fresh after so many books. And poor Uhtred is now getting on in years. Anyway, both of my questions were actually borne out of watching the third series of The Last Kingdom.

 

  1. How good do you think the casting of Finan is? My opinion is that, out of all the casting, barring possibly Alfred, he is exceptionally cast. Apart from the fact he is more heavily "musculatured" than I envisaged, I was amazed at how well the actor fit the character, both in actions and physically. Which are your personal favourites.

 

  1. This one is more unconventional, especially for the sort of question I'd ask, but who do you think the love of Uhtred's life is? On reflection, after so many books, with Aethelflaed still fresh in the storyline despite of her death, I'd have plumped for her. But after watching Alexander Dreymon's excellent portrayal, it brought back to me how devastated Uhtred really was. He's had so many, as he's "loose" but they were probably the most two standouts in his life. I would really like to hear your thoughts.

Danny

 

Dear Mr Cornwell,

I think I should write to you to personally thank you for writing the Last Kingdom series. I, like countless others, was never a fan of historical fiction until this. You can never imagine how much fun it is for us to live through Uhtred and your imaginative, vivid stories and the exciting world in which you built. It truly enriches us in many ways. If I may be slightly dramatic, England should thank you as well. Why there is not much of an effort to uncover, learn and educate on the origins of England, I cannot understand. Surely there is nothing to be ashamed of or kept quiet about. Mmm let's leave it as that.

After watching Season 3, I have a few things to ask or comment:

Who do you think is Uhtred's favourite girl, if he has to choose one on the spot?

Brida, Mildrith, Iseult, Gisela, Skade, Aethelflaed, to name a few..

Maybe we should ask Alexander too! You should ask him if you have a chance! I know this is a highly inappropriate question that cannot be answered for obvious reasons, but still, millions of us do wonder. It's your fault haha, you are partly to blame.

To make it less pointed, maybe the question should be, who does Uhtred dream of?

In the show, Alfred and Uhtred sat down and had a heart to heart talk in his chamber. If only you had made a cameo entrance then! Instead of Aelswith walking in, imagine if Bernard Cornwell the creator walked in and continued the discussion! This is a "what if"/alternate universe dream scene that would have blown our mind. This will be something like "Dinner/Table For Five", also featured on Youtube. There is one where JJ Abrams, Mark Hamill, Stan Lee, Kevin Smith and Jason Lee sat down and shared stories. Sometimes these interactions are priceless.

The TV series is growing from strength to strength, despite virtually no promotional activities. The production budget had obviously increased, just look at the quality of the show. This is turning into a monster. Worldwide. Did you foresee that it will come to this?

Warm regards, destiny is all.

Ben

Malaysia

PS: Your books are flying of the shelves here as well, in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. We try to pick up your books whenever there is a new release.

 

 

 

A

I think Mark Rowley does a wonderful job! They all do – I’m constantly amazed at the qualities the actors bring to their roles, and thus to the story, and Mark impresses me with every appearance. Do I have favourites? Well, if I did, it would be invidious to says so – so I’m dodging that part of your question.

 

I suspect the love of his life was Gisela, with Aethelflaed coming in a close second!  He still hasn’t finished though . . . . .

 


Q

I've followed you for a quarter century through the exploits of Richard Sharpe, Thomas Hookton, Uhtred et al and your work is impressive. Do you have any thoughts on a follow up to "Fools and Mortals?"

Martin Sommerness

A

I do, and have done an immense amount of research, but the flint hasn’t struck the stone to make a spark yet. It might happen?

 


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,

I've read most of your other series just now getting to The Warlord Chronicles.  I don't know any Welsh :-)  :How do you pronounce Ceinwyn (as Derfel loves the princess, I just think it is right that I know how to pronounce her name)?

Flann Eller in Powell, WY

A

Ceinwyn is Kine-win


Q

Hello Mr Cornwell,

First, thank you very much for Richard Sharpe. I've read through the Hornblower series a dozen times in the last ten years (discovered them in my twenties), and only recently came upon the Sharpe books, which have something of the same spirit and are as satisfying and addictive!

Second, thank you very much for your writing advice posted to your website. I took a lot of heart from it, having struggled, on and off, with my own writing.

Third, I am most curious in how you went about breaking down the books and making your charts before setting out to write Sharpe's Eagle, and was hoping you might perhaps have a few more to share about the topic. I suppose this question is loaded with the same fear-of-doing-things-wrongly that has plagued my fitful attempts at novel length fiction, and that is perhaps enough of a lesson for me from writing this note to you! But, if you can find a bit of patience for my temerity, and willingness to just go into a bit more detail of how you went about it, I'd be grateful. I've made some attempts myself, but can't seem to find a good way to codify things in a way that is meaningful and might serve me as a sort of guide and map to moving forward...

Thank you!

- Gregory

A

Well, it’s the sort of thing you do when you’re not sure what you’re doing! But if you want to build a better mousetrap then it’s not stupid to begin by deconstructing all the traps on the market to see how others did it. Basically I made charts which showed where there was dialogue, where there was action, where there was explanation and where there was flashback. I can’t remember which books I chose – I know one of them was a Hornblower, but they were books I’d enjoyed and I ended with a crude idea of how they were put together. I do remember learning not to put all the explanations up front, but to space them out. I hated flashback, and still do, and try to use it as little as possible. In the end I can’t say those charts were really useful – except making them forced me to understand some of the mechanics that good writers use. I suspect it was nervousness before embarking on what seemed an impossibility – to write a book – but it was not wasted time. In the end, of course, you have to throw all that away and start a blank page ‘Once upon a time . . . .’ Good luck with that!

 


Q

Quick question re meaning of Uhtred’s name. The “red” part means “counsel” - Alfred = Elf counsel, Aethelred = Noble counsel; what does Uhtred’s name mean?

Andrew Bell

A

I’ve no idea, to be honest! Never thought about it!


Q

Hello Mr Cornwell,

First of all, I am a real fan of you work, especially The Saxon Stories, this is my favourite period of history.

I would just like to ask you a question about Stiorra and where her name comes from exactly. I am a history student and I have had trouble finding it in Old English, it is usually spelt steorra with a different pronunciation. (Also meaning star) Was this your inspiration ?

I also read some of the other questions on this site, and you said to another man you were not sure where you found it, and it was Scandinavian ?

I have a real interest in names and their history, if you could let me know it would be much appreciated.

Thank you

Rebecca

A

It means ‘star’!  Simple as that


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell,

I am an avid reader of your books and greatly admire the rich and intricate way in which you recreate some of the world's most fascinating military history. I've recently developed an interest in the Crimean War and have so far been unable to find any books other than cold and stuffy historical accounts of the event. It strikes me as a wonderful subject for you to touch your magic on. Would you consider writing a novel or two set then?

Thanks again,

Adam

A

I have thought about it....but It's unlikely.....