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The Last Kingdom

Regular readers of this Not A Blog will know that I am a big fan of historical fiction, especially medieval historical fiction. Nigel Tranter, Maurice Druon, Thomas B. Costain, Sharon Kay Penman, Cecelia Holland... and especiall Bernard Cornwell, who writes the best battles of any writer who has ever lived.

Cornwell is best known for his Sharpe series, mainly because that's the one that was made into a TV series (starring a young Sean Bean, who did not die). But now he's got a second show coming: THE LAST KINGDOM, based on his novels about Uhtred of Northumbria.

The opening title sequence is pretty cool too... graphics like GAME OF THRONES meets 300 meets BONANZA.

I can't wait! If the BBC did justice to Cornwell's books, this show should kick ass.

ADDENDUM, A FEW DAYS LATER: Saw the first episode, and thought it was terrific. Very faithful to Cornwell's book.


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Oct. 10th, 2015 10:33 pm (UTC)
Really looking forward to this show too :)! Would you be interested in seeing a Gentlemen Bastard television series? Those books are so fun and so good.
Oct. 10th, 2015 10:50 pm (UTC)
Locke Lamora? Sure, I'd love it... if they did it right.
Re: YES - ViggoTheImpaler - Oct. 10th, 2015 10:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: YES - Ni Mo - Oct. 11th, 2015 01:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2015 10:34 pm (UTC)
Dear George, I could not watch the first video because it's not available in my country :(
Regards from Chile =*

Edited at 2015-10-10 10:45 pm (UTC)
Oct. 10th, 2015 11:18 pm (UTC)
Weirdly it's been made unavailable in my country too, and I live in the UK and help pay the license fee that funded this program. :)
(no subject) - mariefoxprice - Oct. 11th, 2015 08:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aulus_poliutos - Oct. 11th, 2015 10:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - andrewducker - Oct. 11th, 2015 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - evilzerg_r - Oct. 11th, 2015 02:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2015 10:35 pm (UTC)
Looks interesting
I find many BBC shows to be really good. Or at least to my liking. I much preferred their rendition of Being Human to the SyFy version.

I'll have to keep my eyes out for that. I haven't seen any adverts but this one. I love that time period myself.
Oct. 10th, 2015 11:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Looks interesting
On after Dr. Who on BBC America, if you're here--starts tonight.
Re: Looks interesting - kimiverson - Oct. 11th, 2015 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Looks interesting - Ni Mo - Oct. 11th, 2015 01:08 am (UTC) - Expand
Bruce Warnsby
Oct. 10th, 2015 11:15 pm (UTC)
This looks exciting. Funny Story I was watch Sharpe the first time I read "A Song of Ice and Fire" which kinda of coloured my feeling for the Nights Watch.

Oct. 10th, 2015 11:16 pm (UTC)
What do you think about Patrick Rothfuss Kingkiller Chronicles rights being bought by Lionsgate? If they do it right then it could almost be as good as Game of Thrones. Also, another historical fiction drama I would love to see brought to life would be Maurice Druon's The Accursed Kings.
Oct. 11th, 2015 02:21 am (UTC)
RE: Television
Accursed Kings was been done twice for TV... In France
Mary Ellen Wofford
Oct. 10th, 2015 11:24 pm (UTC)
Fell in love with the Sharpe series and read everything Cornwell has done since. I also really liked Costain when I was younger. In fact, named my daughter Maryam after the heroine in The Black Rose.

I sure hope the BBC does a good job of this.
They usually do, I know, but occasionally...
Oct. 10th, 2015 11:26 pm (UTC)
Kingkiller Chronicle
Hey, George!

Since you're talking about adaptations for other books, what are your thoughts on Lionsgate's multi-platform deal for The Kingkiller Chronicle?

Do you think Lionsgate is the right company for Kvothe's tale? Also, I'm brazillian, so don't mind my possible language awkwardness.
Brooklyn Ann
Oct. 10th, 2015 11:28 pm (UTC)
Speaking of historical...
I've been wanting to ask, have you read The Pillars of The Earth, by Ken Follett? It's one of my favorites.

And this Last Kingdom looks awesome. I'll definitely check it out!
leander etter
Oct. 11th, 2015 12:10 am (UTC)
From switzerland
Hey george, just a question that I wanted to ask you for quite some time: would you like a project in which your work (based on the books) would be made into a video game map? There's some poeple working on one currenty and it's formidable to say the least.
Greetings from switzerland
Nathaniel Leach
Oct. 11th, 2015 12:28 am (UTC)
Hey George, been a fan of Cornwell (and yours, come to think of it) for over a decade, my dad got me into his Sharpe books when I was in my early teens, and I've loved all his books. Appreciated your other historical fiction shoutouts, but was wondering if you've ever read Steven Pressfield? I love Cornwell but Gates of Fire would be my nomination if there was some sort of historical fiction novel-fight.
Oct. 11th, 2015 12:28 am (UTC)
Conn Iggulden? He's my fav.

Last Kingdom looks great, looking forward to it.
Oct. 11th, 2015 01:02 am (UTC)
Thank you good sir
I love all of Bernard Cromwell's...almost as much as yours
Ivan Shishmanov
Oct. 11th, 2015 01:46 am (UTC)
the last kingdom
i am waiting for that also.George you aways said you love rome what other historical tv shows you watched
Oct. 11th, 2015 02:19 am (UTC)
I, Claudius was my favorite.
Oct. 14th, 2015 05:46 pm (UTC)
1) Its awesome you love Cornwell so much. To your point, his battlefield depictions are fantastic and (what i imagine) pretty honest. I love the lack of swordplays and 1v1 stuff, its just straight up, in your face, visceral, killing. No beauty. Blood, body functions, screams, physical...fantastic. Pressfield's Gates of Fire did a good job with that as well...

2) Is it true you're involved in some capacity with I, Claudius and HBO? If so, I've got $100 that says the media (and non readers) will imply your involvement with the production as to why its so violent and intense...however, I don't think your series has quite the insanity and debauchery that Graves described in his books. By the end of I Cladius and much of Claudius the God, as a reader, I became completely desensitized to completely horrific stuff...

John Nelson
Oct. 11th, 2015 03:43 am (UTC)
Considering how well they handled Susanna Clarke...
The Beeb did a damn fine job with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Sure, it was truncated in a big way, between the fine characterization, the beautiful sets and production it not only got me to sit down for seven weeks, Susanna got major sales from me and her entire bibliography (akin to this other dude and this HBO series based on that dude's books). Hell, the Beeb ripped up with Wolf Hall on PBS as well as the reboot of Poldark. I'm never too worried if it's based on a book series with the Beeb. Sure, some of their original series are hit and miss (Orphan Black = SUPERB. Tatau == zzzzzzzz. Broadchurch Season 1 = GENIUS. Broadchurch Season 2 = zzzzz). But they know literary series, and have been doing a fine job with modern production and cinematography stylings.
John Nelson
Oct. 11th, 2015 01:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Considering how well they handled Susanna Clarke...
And...it was...amazing.
Oct. 11th, 2015 05:48 am (UTC)
The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories
Does that mean this show will be based on the The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell?
Oct. 11th, 2015 08:26 am (UTC)
Re: The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories
Yes it will.
Re: The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories - mamculuna - Oct. 11th, 2015 01:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories - zaafsta - Oct. 13th, 2015 05:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Stories - grrm - Oct. 13th, 2015 11:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Philip Atzemoglou
Oct. 11th, 2015 11:46 am (UTC)
Nantucket trilogy
I wish someone would also televise Stirling's Nantucket trilogy...
Oct. 11th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
Your Influence
I have heard critics say that this is just another attempt to recreate the hype/ratings of Game of Thrones. Regardless of if that is true, how do you feel about Game of Thrones being seen as an influence on what other shows/series get picked up/developed. Are there any that you feel fall too closely into mimicking your story lines/themes. I am very excited for The Last Kingdom! And of course more A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones!!!!

Happy writing!
Oct. 11th, 2015 06:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Your Influence
I don't think there is any "mimicking" going on. Cornwell's books stand very well on its own.

What has happened, I think, is that the success of GAME OF THRONES has opened the eyes of tv execs to the potential of epic fantasy and historical fiction as drama for adult audiences. Before that, fantasy was all too often seen as sometimes campy or just for kids.

As someone who loves fantasy and historical fiction, I think this is a very positive development. If TV has room for umpty-ump endless cop and lawyer shows, it ought to have room for a dozen fantasy series and historicals as well, each with its own flavor.
Re: Your Influence - s_scottstephens - Oct. 11th, 2015 11:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Your Influence - linnymay - Oct. 13th, 2015 07:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lootme - Oct. 13th, 2015 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Your Influence - chrismireya - Oct. 15th, 2015 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 11th, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC)
A bit disappointed by the battle scene... Cornwell does such a good job in the book describing how men prepare for battle and boost they're courage for it, this was not captured in the TV series at all... also I understand the budget constrains (and it seems they were far from GoT budget) but still that 1st battle should have been the centerpiece of the show it should have been in a town (the scene with the collapsing wall and how the Danes trick the english into thinking they can't build one) and the English should advance in a shield wall not just do a blind charge... disappointed :(
Oct. 12th, 2015 08:04 pm (UTC)
For various reasons Hollywood et al have great trouble recreating medieval/Dark Age battles. Budget is the general excuse but even in big budget movies like Braveheart the battles are quite badly done.

Olivia's Henry V, shot in 44 with a limited budget, at least got costuming (mostly) and the opening stages of Agincourt correct.

Shield wall seem to be the new fad but they are overdone as "tortise" formations (only used by Romans) and yes both sides would have used them. It is an improvement over the standard Hollywood random charge forward (which would only serve to disrupt critical close order formations and exhaust the troops) but these remain all too common.

Even mounted charges were delivered slowly and in close order until the last 20-30 yards (and sometimes in wedge).

The lines and formations of real medieval battles could make for some interesting visuals and the desperate need to keep lines from cracking some dramatic moments. Yet we continue to get disordered masses hacking away in random confusion and because for some reason costumers do not use hearldery, badges or retinue colors (even when, as in Ice and Fire, they are very much a part of the material) its impossible to tell one side from the other. Likewise the effect of missiles storms (see Henry V for a great film version) so much a part of medieval warfare are generally ignored.

Most productions hire technical advisors but then ignore them. Eventually we will get a Saving Private Ryan for medieval battles (yes I know Save had its flaws) and perhaps at last force Hollywood to raise its game from silly (current) to at least an approximation (ala Saving).

Did enjoy Last Kingdom. I liked Cornwalls archer serias and his one off on Agincourt - not perfect history but a good introduction for those at least a bit interested in the Hundred Years War. Looking forward to next weeks episode.

Oct. 11th, 2015 07:04 pm (UTC)
Last Kingdom
Was very impressed!! The story is close to Vikings, but it had a little different feel. I will for sure continue watching. Have not read the book may have to consider that also.
Oct. 11th, 2015 07:46 pm (UTC)
Just finished watching it! I really enjoyed it. I think BBC has done a good job.
Oct. 11th, 2015 10:39 pm (UTC)
I'm really liking The Last Kingdom so far. The plot is engaging, characters interesting, and it has some great moments of humor, too.

I have not read this series, and so I am experiencing the issue that many casual show-only Game of Thrones fans faced in that it's hard to keep track of everyone, and I have no idea how to spell many of their names! I have a bit more sympathy for watchers, now. That said...I doubt I'll be able to refrain from reading the books once this first season is over!
Oct. 11th, 2015 11:25 pm (UTC)
Read the books. They are terrific. (And much shorter than my own)
(no subject) - lookes - Oct. 12th, 2015 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Karl Doku - Oct. 13th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Csaba Blint
Oct. 12th, 2015 06:53 pm (UTC)
I agree, the first episode was awesome. Too bad that the costumes the vikings wear are not too accurate historically, they could work on that.

Also, main characters are wearing helmets in battle, yay! :)
Oct. 12th, 2015 07:55 pm (UTC)
I though Sean Bean had a general rider in his contract that he always dies :p
Oct. 12th, 2015 08:36 pm (UTC)
George just wanted to know your thoughts on the episode? (Episode 2 I believe is available On Demand, so I've also seen that) I'm not sure if you've had the chance to watch Vikings on History, but if you have how would the two compare?
I've not read the book series yet and am resisting it for now and oh man am I tempted,(All it took was s1e1 of Game of Thrones to make me download the books on Kindle immediately and read them all) But it's nice to watch a series without reading the books first, for a change. I am aware the source material is probably equally as good as the show, if not better. So I do plan on picking up the books soon after this season ends.

Edited at 2015-10-12 08:45 pm (UTC)
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George R.R. Martin
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