Death of Kings Paperback – Oct 25 2011
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George R.R. Martin Interviews Bernard Cornwell
George R.R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally since then. He spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer-producer, working on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and television pilots that were never made. In the mid '90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since.
George R.R. Martin: It has long been my contention that the historical novel and the epic fantasy are sisters under the skin, that the two genres have much in common. My series owes a lot to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and the other great fantasists who came before me, but I've also read and enjoyed the work of historical novelists. Who were your own influences? Was historical fiction always your great passion? Did you ever read fantasy?
Bernard Cornwell: You're right--fantasy and historical novels are twins--and I've never been fond of the label 'fantasy' which is too broad a brush and has a fey quality. It seems to me you write historical novels in an invented world which is grounded in historical reality (if the books are set in the future then 'fantasy' magically becomes sci-fi). So I've been influenced by all three: fantasy, sci-fi and historical novels, though the largest influence has to be C.S. Forester's Hornblower books.
Martin: A familiar theme in a lot of epic fantasy is the conflict between good and evil. The villains are often Dark Lords of various ilks, with demonic henchmen and hordes of twisted, malformed underlings clad in black. The heroes are noble, brave, chaste, and very fair to look upon. Yes, Tolkien made something grand and glorious from that, but in the hands of lesser writers, well ... let's just say that sort of fantasy has lost its interest for me. It is the grey characters who interest me the most. Those are the sort I prefer to write about... and read about. It seems to me that you share that affinity. What is it about flawed characters that makes them more interesting than conventional heroes?
Cornwell: Maybe all our heroes are reflections of ourselves? I'm not claiming to be Richard Sharpe (God forbid), but I'm sure parts of my personality leaked into him (he's very grumpy in the morning). And perhaps flawed characters are more interesting because they are forced to make a choice… a conventionally good character will always do the moral, right thing. Boring. Sharpe often does the right thing, but usually for the wrong reasons, and that's much more interesting!
Martin: When Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings, it was intended as a sequel to The Hobbit. "The tale grew in the telling," he said later, when LOTR had grown into the trilogy we know today. That's a line I have often had occasion to quote over the years, as my own Song of Ice and Fire swelled from the three books I had originally sold to the seven books (five published, two more to write) I'm now producing. Much of your own work has taken the form of multi-part series. Are your tales too 'growing in the telling,' or do you know how long your journeys will take before you set out? Did you know how many books Uhtred's story would require, when you first sat down to write about him?
Cornwell: No idea! I don't even know what will happen in the next chapter, let alone the next book, and have no idea how many books there might be in a series. E.L. Doctorow said something I like which is that writing a novel is a bit like driving down an unfamiliar country road at night and you can only see as far ahead as your somewhat feeble headlamps show. I write into the darkness. I guess the joy of reading a book is to find out what happens, and for me that's the joy of writing one too!
Praise for THE BURNING LAND: 'Cornwell draws a fascinating picture of England as it might have been before anything like England existed' The Times Praise for AZINCOURT: 'This is a magnificent and gory work' Daily Mail 'The historical blockbuster of the year' Evening Standard 'If Bernard Cornwell was born to write one book, this is it. No other historical novelist has acquired such a mastery of the minutiae of warfare in centuries past' Daily Telegraph 'A runaway success' Observer Praise for Bernard Cornwell: 'The characterisation, as ever, is excellent!And one can only admire the little touches that bring the period to life. He can also claim to be a true poet of both the horror and the glory of war' Sunday Telegraph This is typical Cornwell, meticulously researched, massive in scope, brilliant in execution' News of the World 'He's called a master story-teller. Really he's cleverer than that' TelegraphSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
`Every day is ordinary, I thought, until it gets interesting.'
Uhtred has grown to admire Alfred, albeit grudgingly at times, but does not feel the same respect for Alfred's heir, the ætheling Edward. Uhtred knows that Edward mistrusts him and he also knows that battles will need to be fought if the country is to be united. The Danes are not the only enemies: there is also a rival claimant for the throne.
`.., but victory does not come to men who listen to their fears.'
We see a number of different aspects of Uhtred in this novel: the tenderness he feels for King Alfred's daughter Æthelflaed; his delight in annoying the priests who believe that prayer is the path to victory; and his capacity for strategic planning for the battles he knows must be fought. Uhtred may be battle ready and cynical about the role of Christianity but his encounter with a mysterious pagan witch still leaves him shaken.
Uhtred of Bebbanburg is larger than life and while he dominates the story, it fits within what we know of the history. In this blending of history and fiction, Bernard Cornwell brings this period to life. There are reminders that while Alfred's kingdom is becoming increasingly Christian, there are many who still believe in the old gods. The use of the old place names makes the setting seem more authentic - even though I had to keep turning back to check them against the current place names.Read more ›
This is a masterful book, portraying the now-expected treacheries and deceptions. Uhtred as usual is in the middle of everything. His frankly unbelievable romance with Alfred's daughter continues, although it slides further into the background here and doesn't make me snort like it did in the last book.
Uhtred sinks to perhaps new lows by faking an angelic appearance - but who exactly will be fooled?
If you like this series, this new book is one of the strongest entries, on a par with the first 3.
Battle scenes and warriors are not my typical fare, but first-person protagonist of this novel is EXTREMELY engaging. You get him, you're with him all the way. The writing is smooth, the imagery photographic, and the tone intelligent.
Most recent customer reviews
I loved the book and the whole series. Great historical fiction.Published 1 month ago by Caroline Fitz-Gibbon
#6 in the series and just as riveting as the previous 5 books. Uhtred's story continues as England is reshaped.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer