Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Favorite Character Name Blog: Uther Pendragon

Red Room, an online community for writers which I am part of, periodically asks writers to blog on a subject of their choosing. Today they asked that we blog about the name of a character in a book that is a favorite of ours and for me that was easy. I love the name Uther Pendragon. I wish I could think of a way to steal it.

For those who do not know Uther is the king of sub-Britian and the father of King Arthur. Uther was so enchanted by the beautiful Lady Ygraine, the wife of his enemy King Gorlois, that he begged Merlin to cast a spell that would let him have his way with her. Which he did. This resulted in the conception of Arthur, his illegitimate son who was then spirited away by Merlin because Merlin had made it part of the bargain that if he let Uther have Ygraine, he, Merlin, would receive the fruits of their union. Well, of course, Uther is so hot for Ygraine that he isn't thinking past the end of his -- well, you know -- and agrees. Once Arthur is born and Merlin shows up to claim him Uther is outraged but it is too late.
Uther isn't a particularly admirable character but he is interesting. He is mentioned in many books including T.H. White's "Once And Future King" and Mary Stewart's beautiful Merlin trilogy where I first fell in love with him. I loved those books, especially The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills. There are also notable movie moments with Uther, particularly John Boorman's Excalibur in which Uther is played by one of my favorite actors, Gabriel Byrne, and the scene in which he impregnates Ygraine -- he still clad in armor, she in a diaphanous gown that keeps falling off of her, in front of a blazing fire -- is especially memorable.

Uther also showed up in another favorite book, The Mists of Avalon.

I have other favorite names for characters: Atticus Finch is wonderful, so is D'Artagnan and Sissy Hankshaw and I confess a huge partiality for James Lee Burke's Clete Purcell, though Burke has so many great names you could open any one of his books and make a list. His Legion Guidry in Jolie Blon's Bounce not only has a great name but is one of the most purely terrifying, evil characters I've ever encountered in a book. Then there is Ignatius J. Reilly, and Albus Dumbledore -- well, like James Lee Burke, the Harry Potter books have so many great names you could fill a book with just their names: Severus Snape, Lucius Malfoy, Minerva McGonigall, Petunia Dursley... the list is endless.

I could write about this all day but I have to get back to work and to writing, too.I'm working on a new novel and one of the main characters is a guy named Syd Jupiter. I like that name.

Thanks for reading.

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