Kate Quinn Kate's Comments

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Mar 17, 2014 05:18PM

54239 They do a Blood Eagle in the first Giles Kristian book.
54239 No - love has its place, and so does lust, but it always serves the story and is never sensationalized.
Bernard Cornwell (1299 new)
Mar 13, 2014 04:52PM

54239 I have a feeling that Derfel gave birth to Uhtred in a way. Like Cornwell thought idly, "What if you had a guy like Derfel, but serving a king he HATED instead of a king he loved . . . how would that change him?" And lo, Uhtred was born.
Bernard Cornwell (1299 new)
Mar 13, 2014 02:09PM

54239 Outwardly Derfel is not very different from Uhtred: blond giant born in one culture but raised to serve another, great warrior serving a great king. But Derfel serves a man he adores and would happily die for, whereas Uhtred serves Alfred only very reluctantly - and thus Uhtred is a lot more bitter and snarky in his line of work than Derfel, who is happy in his choice.

Plus, I'd say Derfel is a far more peaceable sort at the core. He's pretty happy farming and playing with his kids in ordinary life, whereas Uhtred is more of a day-to-day warrior. You get the sense that Derfel is happy to put his spear on the wall, whereas Uhtred gets grumpy if he goes a month without a chance to kill something. :D
54239 She's kick-ass. A great example of a woman who was fierce without earning the dreadful label of "spunky." (Shudders.)
54239 As far as I know, jury seems to be out on whether or not there were women warriors in Celtic tribes - there is at least some evidence for it. I think Gedge did a nice balance by showing a culture where the women *can* fight, but the men do most of the raids and war parties. The women are more likely to save their fighting either for desperate times (like the Roman invasion) or for home defense. Although some unmarried women like Caradoc's sister Gladys take a more active role, and later on you meet the tribes of the west where the women are definitely more active (and one decides to challenge Eurgain on the premise that Catuvellaun women are soft. Yeah, that goes well).
54239 I found the agonizing internal process by which Caradoc transforms from a light-hearted young man into a steely leader just fascinating - it humanizes a guy who could otherwise just be a clench-jawed hero on a podium. And the cost to his family isn't overlooked either. There's an issue of infidelity down the line which is handled with such sensitivity and sadness that you just want to hug all the people involved who have found their lives so screwed up.
54239 I have rarely read a book as immersive as this one - Gedge really brings you into the culture of Celtic Britain so completely that things which would ordinarily make you recoil (a religion which requires human sacrifice, for example) don't even make you blink.

I also have to commend her for giving the Celtic culture a touch of mysticism and magic without making it New Age-y. I pitched "Mists of Avalon" against a wall when I tried to read it, because the religion seemed to come across SO post-feminist and New Age. "Eagle and the Raven" is done much better!
Feb 03, 2014 03:41PM

54239 Pretty much.
Bernard Cornwell (1299 new)
Feb 03, 2014 02:47PM

54239 Yes, you really couldn't blame Aethelflaed for giving him a look and saying, "You IDIOT!"
Feb 03, 2014 02:46PM

54239 Yes, God help me. Lady of the Eternal City, and publication's already been pushed back once because writing it has been one long exercise in frustration. *bangs head repeatedly against wall* It's trucking along pretty well now, but this book has definitely been the problem child of my brood!
Feb 03, 2014 09:43AM

54239 It's been quite a ride - I loved writing these books. Easiest things I ever wrote: nine hundred pages in nine months, never a hitch. The current book is like pulling teeth; over a year at four hundred pages and still not done!
Feb 02, 2014 07:11AM

54239 I think it's not that women read more HF, it's that women buy more books, period. (That's what my editor says has been proven over and over, studies-wise.) So publishers market toward women because women BUY more.
Feb 02, 2014 06:49AM

54239 Terri wrote: "The Norse are caught on land for some time (a few weeks or something like that) and from the moment of their first nights camp, they split up the women and the lucky ones wrangle a girl and make her his. they kind of all partner up and many of the women had a say in who they would go with (avoiding the smelly ones and the ugliest ones..:)..as you do..)"

Terri, this reminded me of another Cornwell situation that popped up more than once in his Sharpe books, where the guys are going through a city being ravaged, and Harper saves a girl from being raped and she comes along with them for protection. Yes, he saves her - but it's fairly clear that her gratitude is going to take the form of sex for Harper. Girl goes along with this, no problem. It's the kind of situation where in modern day, we would say it's just a subtler form of intimidation and rape. But for women living in a war-torn country where rape is always just around the corner, I can understand the motivation to look around you and choose a protector, sex being part of that protection, than risk being on your own and getting gang-raped and possibly murdered by many.
Feb 02, 2014 06:43AM

54239 You do want to keep a modern audience's attention and interest to ensure sales - so I would say yes, to some degree when writing female-dircted historical fiction, writers do have the motivation to make their historical ladies go against the norm, because it is more interesting to a modern audience. The writers on the bad end of the scale end up with all these spunky heroines we despise, flouncing around in petticoats with 21st century manners and morals. The better writers find ways for their heroines to break the rules of the time they live in, but face period-appropriate consequences and fallout for doing so.
Feb 01, 2014 02:19PM

54239 Terri wrote: "Kate this is exactly what I have been trying to say. thankyou. :)"

You're welcome, Terri! It's something to struggle with, whenever you write historical women. I remember getting some push-back in reviews when I had, say, a teenage slave girl in ancient Rome who periodically has to have sex with her master, and she doesn't really bat an eyelash about it. "This is rape! Why isn't she more traumatized by this experience?" Because she's a slave, and periodic unwished-for sex with your owner is a standard expectation of the job. An unpleasant part of the job, to be sure, but it never occurs to her to weep and wring her hands about it and think that this is unfair. She knows this is just the way the world is, and shrugs, and gets on with her day.

For a great example of a realistic historical woman who broke all the rules: Aethelflaed from our ever-popular Uhtred series. The girl is a serious bad-ass who leads armies, lives apart from her husband, and takes part in battles (and historically, she did all these things). But Cornwell shows us how hard she has to fight to be able to break the rules; how she has to circumvent priests and family members who try to get her under control by any means necessary. And in the end she wouldn't be able to do what she does without the help of some powerful men who give her some leniency.
Feb 01, 2014 07:48AM

54239 With regards to women's roles in history and how to depict them accurately, there was a good panel discussion at the last Historical Novel Society Conference called "The Feisty Medieval Heroine Sold Into Marriage Who Hates Bear-Baiting." There can be a tendency for heroines in badly written HF to be dressed head to toe in period-accurate, faithfully-researched clothing, but to ACT as though they've come straight from a 21st century consciousness-raising workshop: they show a modern-era outrage for things like, say, bear-baiting and arranged marriages, that a woman of their time would have taken for granted.

If women in historical novels are going to be more brave or adventurous or outlandish than the historical norm, that's fine - but they need to face era-appropriate attitudes and consequences for breaking the rules. A good medieval example is Judith Merkle Riley's In Pursuit of the Green Lion, where her medieval heroine sets off on a determined quest to rescue her knight husband when he is captured by the French - she has to continually side-step the men and the priests who shake their heads disapprovingly at her behavior and try to stop her from leaving hearth and home. And she doesn't question that they act this way, because it's the norm.
Bernard Cornwell (1299 new)
Jan 30, 2014 12:55PM

54239 Interesting that he admits Uhtred will be too old to fight at Brunanburg, and doesn't know quite what to do as his hero gets up there! I trust him to find a good solution, though.
Bernard Cornwell (1299 new)
Jan 30, 2014 05:59AM

54239 Sharon Kay Penman interviews Cornwell on her blog - some interesting things about the future of the Uhtred series!

Jan 26, 2014 08:02AM

54239 I saw both your reviews this morning, ladies - thank you SO much! I am so very glad you enjoyed my two-book Borgia gallop.
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