Alas, another month where not much writing has been done. I am still revising/writing the last four chapters of TNS2 but I have skipped chapter 9 in favour of chapter 10 in the hope that the excitement of fight scenes will be enough to bust me out of my writing rut. This chapter sees Aethelwin’s two sons and their friends travelling south in aid of Aethelwold, the nephew of Alfred the Great, who for some at the time was seen as the true heir of Wessex. For those of you who have read Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series set during the same time you will be aware of Aethelwold and his fate. Hopefully I can add my own perspective (and the perspective of the Vikings) to his claim on the throne.
Speaking of Bernard Cornwell, if you are a follower of me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ you may have already heard of the great news! The first novel in this series, based on the fictional hero Uhtred of Bebbanburh, is to be adapted by the BBC and an American production company to the silver screen. The fall of York to the Vikings, Uhtred’s fight to reclaim Bamburgh Castle from his devious uncle, and his struggle to choose between Saxon and Viking loyalties, are all described in The Last Kingdom.
I had already started writing The Northumbrian Saga when I first discovered Bernard Cornwell and the discovery was almost enough to stop writing all together. I was interested in just how unique my concept of the fall of York was, and when I read the blurb for The Last Kingdom I was a little gutted. There seemed to be just too many similarities and Cornwell was already a well known and loved author. I just had to read the Saxon Chronicles to find out if I could still write my own story without sounding like I was plagiarizing.
Thankfully there were enough differences between our stories for me to continue on and I am so glad that I did discover his work. He really is a gifted storyteller and I ended up buying and reading the rest of the books in the series. I genuinely wanted to know how the heck Uhtred survived to be so old, whether he regained Bebbanburh, whether he would ever reunite with his adoptive Viking family, EVERYTHING! Cornwell has done his research on the events during Alfred the Great’s rise to power but the details do not get in the way of a really entertaining adventure. He has a very clear cut way of writing that is never bogged down in flowery narrative or description. He is straight to the point and whilst this may come off as too stilted to some, I feel that it perfectly helped the pace of the story and suited the character and period. Uhtred can be very blunt and even at times surly but he is enormously likeable. The only time I was a little annoyed with the writer was when he kept writing “I am Uhtred of Bebbanburh”. Yes, I understand the reason for the constant self affirmation, but after reading it half a dozen times in as many pages it was getting a bit on my nerves. But don’t let that put you off. It settles down a lot from book 2 onwards.
The Empty Throne will be the 8th book in the series and as I understand it will be out later in the year (October for UK and January for the US). I will have to get a move on and read the 7th before then. In the latest adventure, Edward the Elder has finally secured his father’s throne but all is not well in the realm. His brother-in-law and ally, Aethelred of Mercia, is sick and failing with every passing week. With no heir in Mercia it falls to Aethelflaeda to rally her husband’s people to her side and that of King Edward. This of course cannot be done without the help of our hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburh.
I had once hoped to catch up with the events in Cornwell’s series with my own but as it is, I am still trying to cover the events he writes about in Book 7. By the end of TNS3 I should be roughly in line with book 9 and I am anticipating that Cornwell will have finished it long before I even start. Cornwell I believe will be finishing the series around the Battle of Brunanburh. If I ever get to TNS4 I guess that will be the only chance I have of over taking him.
I know Uhtred has to die at some point and he has done miraculously well to reach the age he does, however it will be a very sad day when we say goodbye to him forever.
Have a great month everyone and for those of us watching the commonwealth games from Glasgow, I hope your teams are going well! Go the Hockeyroos!
Note: I also want to apologise for the lack of a post last week. I am trying to juggle the day job/family/writing the sequel and writing posts and sadly at the moment posts are losing out. I will be continuing to try and post weekly but I may not be as regular in the future as I have been.