Re: Re: British History Book Club

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#17765

Chris
Participant

1.  Was Uhtred a Dane or a Saxon? At first, I thought he was glad that he had been kidnapped by the Danes, but when he spent time with the Saxons, particularly after Ragnar's death, he seemed to embrace his identity as a ruler of Northumbria and a Saxon.

He is both but by blood he is obviously a Saxon, born into a noble Saxon family. And he had a pretty nice pad too, Bebbanburg - now Bamburgh Castle. Cornwell clearly describes Uhtred as having a difficult childhood after the death of his father but over time as his assimilation into Dane traditions, and even though he was a slave to begin with, he ultimately enjoyed his time with them being adopted and brought up as a son Ragnar the Fearless. He is, however, a Saxon and this is never going to leave him. It is who he is, his identity, and as much as he liked being in the Ragnar family the story notches up a level or two when he is introduced to the stereotypical paradigm of where your loyalties lie.

3.  Fighting.I wondered how much research Bernard Cornwell had to do to write such realistic seeming battle scenes.  I don't know much at all about the man, other than what I read on his website.  He clearly knows his history.  I get the sense that Cornwell orchestrates some battles in his head.  I wonder how much of the details of historical battles are available to read or did Cornwell imagine the kind of battles that the Danes must have fought.

As fighting plays a huge role in his stories, orchestrating them seems like the most obvious way to follow the natural progression of a battle from start to finish. How he does it exactly is something I would like to know because the amount of detail in the fights, whether one on one or an entire army, he has everything planned with precision and detailed to every swing. He has been writing for years so this is no stranger to him but everyone has to start somewhere so it would be interesting know how he develops the writing when he is choreographing every move to make it as realistic as possible. Cornwell has an author's historical note at the end of the books he write and in it he describes what actually happened, what was fictional and how he went about writing the story. He researches the history well enough to be able to compose a fictional story based on real events so he must be using actual historic records as a base for battles and possibly how those battles were fought. With regards to actual combat, this is most likely fleshed out on top of what he already knows about combat during any specific time in history he is writing about.

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