House of Bebbanburg and Household
- Action Dad: Becomes one by Mildrith at the end of The Last Kingdom, and then again by Gisela between Lords of the North and Sword Song.
- Anglo-Saxons: By blood. He vacillates between the Saxons and the Danes for a while, before eventually settling on the Saxons by Sword Song.
- Anti-Hero: He's not a nice person (most of the time), he's ruthless, violent, and a straight up dick if he wants to be. However, he is a hero.
- Arranged Marriage: To Mildrith in The Last Kingdom. It is not a happy one.
- Badass Grandpa: He is sixty-one by the time of "The Flame Bearer."
- Barbarian Hero: A textbook example.
- Barbarian Longhair: Makes a point of keeping his blonde hair long.
- Been There, Shaped History: As with most Cornwell protagonists, he's heavily involved in most of the important events of the era.
- Berserk Button: Oath-breaking.
- Someone else taking credit for his achievements drives him nuts.
- And insulting Gisela after her passing.
- Domestic Abuse also seems to set him off. In War of the Wolf, it's noted that he generally punishes his men if they beat their wives, in part because of how he saw his father treat his stepmother.
- Blood Knight: He loves fighting, particularly as a young man, though as he gets older, he gains a much greater appreciation for the peaceful life.
- Book Dumb: He didn't really learn to read until he was an adult, but he was already an intelligent man, expert sailor, and decent commander.
- Born in the Wrong Century: He would have been right at home with his pagan ancestors invading Britain, as he occasionally complains.
- Call to Agriculture: Surprisingly, gets this in later books - he still enjoys a good fight, but in contrast to his previous total lack of interest in cultivation and agriculture, he comes to enjoy it.
- Cool Sword: Serpent-Breath and Wasp-Sting.
- Cynical Mentor: To Osferth and Aethelstan.
- Deadpan Snarker: Possibly the most prone to this of all Cornwell's protagonists - if he isn't snarking at someone he doesn't like, his narration is.
- Death Seeker: Downplayed. While Uhtred doesn't go out of his way to try to get himself killed, he frequently mentions his desire to die with a sword in his hand, and thus ascend to Valhalla.
- The Dreaded: Becomes this as his reputation grows.
- Everyone Has Standards: Uhtred is infuriated by Aethelred's abuse of Aethelflaed and later terrifies him into not raising a hand to her again.
- He also despises - and usually murders - rapists, to the point where he has a particular reputation for it.
- Famed In-Story: He becomes this, to his delight - as he repeatedly notes, reputation is all.
- The Fatalist: His motto is pretty much 'destiny is all'.
- The Fettered: Uhtred takes oaths very seriously; the oath he swore to Alfred early on in the series is essentially the only thing that has kept him from running off to the Danes a long time ago - and when he does run off to the Danes, it's the one thing that keeps dragging him back, much to his displeasure.
- Foreign Culture Fetish: Despite his limited knowledge of them, Uhtred expresses great admiration of the Romans.
- He's sometimes noted in his younger days as having become more Danish than the Danes.
- Generation Xerox: It's remarked at points that he's turned out much the same way as his father, somewhat to his despair, something underlined by his son's POV section.
- Genius Bruiser: Most people take him to be little more than a large, violent, and generally bloodthirsty pagan savage - and, to be fair, that's a large part of it. However, he also speaks both Saxon and Danish fluently, learns to read and write very quickly as an adult and acquires a surprisingly extensive knowledge of Christian scripture (which he hates), is an excellent tactician, and when he wants to be, a highly accomplished political schemer.
- Glory Seeker: Particularly as a young man. Possibly what angers Uhtred the most in The Pale Horseman is that Alfred refuses to give him the glory for killing Ubba - mostly because someone else claimed it first (though it is hinted that Alfred knew what happened).
- Happily Adopted: By Ragnar and his family, to the point where he spends most of the first two books angrily insisting that he's a Dane (and generally being more Danish than the Danes).
- Hates Everyone Equally: As both a young and an old man, he hates just about everyone. In between, he mellows out.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: He's a hero, usually the one with the sarcastic commentary, and also usually the one to advise Alfred or his successor to straight up murder somebody. It gets to the point where, during The Pale Horseman, Alfred's immediate reaction to Uhtred being cheerful is to assume that he's just killed somebody.
- Hidden Depths: He has more than a passing knowledge of Christian scripture, even if he hates it. He also likes building things - which is surprising, considering how often he usually winds up destroying them.
- He's also much cleverer, and more cunning, than most people think he is.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's not a nice person, and gets even less so after the love of his life dies, but he is a good person at heart, and generally kind to children in a gruff sort of way.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: He tends to murder his enemies, who are universally unpleasant people.
- The Last DJ: Uhtred's "career" as it were is constantly stalled out due to his being a pagan.
- Love at First Sight : With Gisela. "I saw her, and I was stricken."
- Made a Slave: In Lords of the North. Cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Magnificent Bastard: Occasionally in later books, when he starts using his head more than his sword. One of the best examples relates to the matter of the throne of Mercia after Aethelred, Uhtred's cousin and Lord of Mercia, dies. Uhtred has one of the strongest claims to the throne of Mercia, through his mother. Despite having no real interest in the throne, he tells Lord Aethelhelm the Elder (the most powerful Lord in Wessex, father of King Edward of Wessex's second wife, while Uhtred has Edward's twins, Aethelstan and Eadgyth, by his brief first marriage as his wards) that he'll support the claim of Aethelhelm's grandson, Alfweard, to the throne of Wessex over that of his ward Aethelstan, while he is King of Mercia. Aethelhelm, seeking to remove a powerful opponent, supports his claim and Uhtred becomes King of Mercia. Then, about five minutes later, he abdicates in favour of Aethelflaed, who is Aethelred's widow, Uhtred's lover, and Edward's older sister - and a supporter of her eldest nephew, Aethelstan, who now has a powerful kingdom behind him. Aethelhelm's flat response to being Out-Gambitted sums it up.You bastard.
- McNinja : Attempts to be a shadow-walker in his youth. For such a big man, he is surprisingly stealthy.
- Meaningful Rename : Was originally named Osbert. Then his elder brother died.
- Morality Pet: Father Beocca, after a fashion - Uhtred, while sometimes irritated by him, is notably kinder to him than he is to most people, especially priests. However, he does enjoy winding him up.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Suggests this to Alfred to the point of it becoming a Running Gag, and is usually right.
- Odd Friendship : With Fathers Pyrlig, Willibald, and Beocca, for various different reasons - all priests of a religion that he hates.
- Ends up with something of this with Alfred, primarily thanks to a development of mutual respect.
- Parental Favouritism: His daughter, Stiorra, gets most of her father's affection.
- Later, his ward, Aethelstan, becomes his favourite.
- Parents as People: He's got a mixed record as a father at best, as he freely admits, one that gets a lot worse after the love of his life dies. He's excellent with Stiorra, mixed with the second Uhtred, and terrible with Father Judas - when the latter tearfully says that Uhtred was a good father when Uhtred is on his deathbed, Uhtred's immediate, irritated thought is that no, he wasn't, he was terrible at it.
- Stealth Mentor: To Edward.
- Really Gets Around: He ends up with a lot of girlfriends over the years, never mind visits to the brothel (as Gisela, his wife, accusingly points out at one point, when they're staying in a tavern/brothel in Winchester, they know him very well there. Uhtred's somewhat weak defence is that it's not just a brothel) in early books. However, with the exception of the thoroughly unhappy Arranged Marriage with Mildrith, he's always entirely faithful to his girlfriend of the time.
- Reliable Traitor: For the first few books, due to being caught between the Danes - who he loves, including his adopted family - and his oath to Alfred, with the general pattern being that he'll join up with the Danes until someone reminds him of his oath. The last vestiges of this die out in Sword Song.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Aethelred, Lord of Mercia is his cousin, and he briefly takes the title after Aethelred dies... then cedes it to Aetheflaed. Guthred, the King of Northumbria, was his brother-in-law, and his later son-in-law is a later successor to that title.
- Servile Snarker : To Alfred, who particularly in later life, thinks it's Actually Pretty Funny.
- Unreliable Narrator: He grudgingly concedes that he's not perfect in this regard.
- Wild Card: To the point where in The Burning Land, one of Ragnar the Younger's reasons for why the Danes could beat Wessex was because Uhtred was not there.
- Small Role, Big Impact: It's noted by more than one character (including Uhtred himself, who isn't especially pleased by it) that he's slowly turning out much like his father, something underlined by his son's narration, in which his descriptions of his father mirror Uhtred's own of his father.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Dies early on in The Last Kingdom
Uhtred's elder brother.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: We hardly see him before Ragnar kills him.
- Infant Immortality: Averted. He dies choking on a pebble by a river, at roughly the same time as a magical ritual heals Edward the Aetheling.
Formerly: Uhtred Uhtredsson.
Uhtred's first son by Gisela, who breaks his heart by running away to become a priest.
- Badass Preacher: He might not be a fighter, but as even his father grudgingly notes, he's got the family courage, accepting the name Judas from his father.
- The Un Favourite: At first as a result of his being a soft, quiet child when Uhtred wants a brash warrior in the making, then later as a result of converting to Christianity, then finally as a result of becoming a Priest, which by Uhtred's own account, broke his heart.
Uhtred's only daughter, and by his own admittance, his favourite child.
Uhtred's second son by Gisela, who ends up narrating a chapter in later books.
- Generation Xerox: Going by his POV section and his appearances in his father's sections, he's basically evolved into a young version of his father - albeit a less brash one, and with a less forceful will.
- Indy Ploy: Like his father, he's excellent at them, enough to impress said father, who calls him an idiot, then congratulates him.
House of Wessex
Alfred the Great
King of the West Saxons and effective leader of the Saxons as a whole. Pious, yet ruthless, he plans the submission of all the Saxons to one King.
- Action Dad: To Aethelflaed and Edward, among others.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Ends up with this opinion of Uhtred's Servile Snarker tendencies.
- Badass Bureaucrat: He's usually busily reforming the administration of the Kingdom of Wessex, something which historically turned Saxon, and later Norman, England into one of the richest and most efficiently governed countries in Europe. He is also a reasonably competent warrior.
- Beware the Nice Ones: While he's a devout Christian and an outwardly mild-mannered man, he is revealed to be exceptionally dangerous - for instance, he's just about the only man in Britain who can actually control Uhtred, a feat which is used to underline how dangerous he is.
- The Chess Master: When narrating The Last Kingdom, Uhtred notes (using a chess metaphor) with the benefit of hindsight that when Alfred gives him a fine suit of armour, an attractive heiress, and getting him to swear an oath of loyalty that this wasn't any sign that he really liked/valued Uhtred (who was at that point a brash, if talented warrior and landless noble). By his own admission, Uhtred hadn't done anything to earn such gifts. Instead, it was merely a way of tying Uhtred to him, for his potential value in the future (and in the case of the heiress, Mildrith, to saddle someone with a massive debt to the church).
- Good Is Not Soft: Again, this is the man who comes to dominate Saxon controlled Britain, and manages to control Uhtred.
- Good Parents: Zig-Zagged. Even Uhtred at his most cantankerous notes how gentle and playful he is with his children, and how fond he is of them - which actually raises him in Uhtred's estimation somewhat. However, by modern standards, his refusal to intervene in Aethelred's Domestic Abuse of Aethelflaed would firmly disqualify him - even if he might have been pretty certain that Uhtred, who angrily brought it to his attention, was going to do something violent about it.
- Manipulative Bastard: How he controls Uhtred, to the latter's resentment - specifically, he knows Uhtred's buttons (his Honour Before Reason tendencies, primarily), and precisely how to press them to get the desired result.
- Odd Friendship: A devoutly Christian, mild-mannered Wise Prince and a brash, openly pagan Blood Knight. Not two people you'd think would get on - and most of the time, they don't. Yet he and Uhtred develop one, first during The Pale Horseman when Alfred is a King on the run and relies heavily on Uhtred to survive, leading to a far greater informality in their dynamic, and later when Uhtred's mellowed out somewhat and Alfred has stopped seeing him as an attack dog to be a) kept where he can see him, b) then unleashed at appropriate moments.
- Really Gets Around: Before he got married, he was famous for getting in the underwear of just about every woman nearby, resulting in at least one Heroic Bastard. Even after his marriage, Uhtred notes that he's still fond of the company of beautiful women, though without anything untoward going on.
Aethelflaed of Mercia
Princess of Wessex, later Lady of the Mercians.
- Amicable Exes: She and Uhtred eventually drift apart, but still get on perfectly well - though she disapproves of his womanising.
- Character Development: She goes from adorable child, to spirited pretty teenager, to wise, devout, and often brusque ruler.
- The High Queen: Effectively becomes this in respect to ruling Mercia.
- Iron Lady: In later life, scaring the living daylights out of most people who aren't Uhtred, including Uhtred's second son.
- Protectorate: To Uhtred, even after she becomes very capable of looking after herself.
- Second Love: Serves as this to Uhtred, the two getting together some time after Gisela dies.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Becomes this as ruler of Mercia, with her and Uhtred having to pull some fast tricks to keep her on the throne in her own right. Oddly enough, though, the people love her.
Bastard son of Alfred by a serving girl, and of all Alfred's children, the most like him.
- Badass Bookworm: Like his father. He starts out as just a bookworm, but under Uhtred's grudging tutelage, he develops into a serious badass.
- Badass Preacher: He's not ordained, but he has the knowledge, which Uhtred occasionally exploits (to assuage the worries of some of his Christian followers), and he's an excellent fighter.
- The Conscience: Serves as this to Uhtred from time to time, with varying degrees of success.
- Generation Xerox: By War of the Wolf, he could quite easily be Alfred, which comes at the cost of his sense of humour.
- Heroic Bastard: Alfred's bastard son, and entirely loyal to him and to his legitimate siblings, who he gets on with very well - at least at first, in the case of Edward. By War of the Wolf, their relationship has soured, though Edward is largely a drunken wreck.
- Took a Level in Badass: He takes many, starting out as an unwilling novice monk, and fairly useless soldier, who Uhtred only puts up with because he wants to annoy Alfred, before becoming one of Uhtred's most trusted men, then a formidable commander in his own right.
A Welsh Priest, and highly accomplished warrior.
- Acrofatic: He's fat, but he's much more mobile than you'd expect, something he exploits in his fight with Siegfried.
- Badass Preacher: He was a warrior before he was ordained, and still fights, even though he probably shouldn't. He also reckons that he could kill Uhtred if it came to it, pointing out that for all that he is a Welshman and a Priest (for which Uhtred should hate him twice over), Uhtred likes him and would be reluctant to kill him. And while that would only give him three or four strokes of the sword, those are all he needs.
- Big Eater: He likes his food.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He's big, boisterous, and a Badass Preacher at that.
- The Conscience: Serves as this to Uhtred on more than one occasion, usually being the one to remind him of his oath to Alfred.
- Good Is Not Soft: Makes it quite clear to Uhtred in Sword Song that if he turned to the Danes, he'd be entirely willing to kill him - and unlike Uhtred, who'd hold back because he likes Pyrlig, he (Pyrlig) wouldn't.
- Good Shepherd: Even to Uhtred, staunch pagan that he is, which takes some doing.
- Nice Guy: He's one of the friendliest characters in the series, enough to make even Uhtred at his grumpiest like him.
- Odd Friendship: He's a Welshman and a Priest, two things Uhtred - a Saxon and a staunch pagan - hates, but he's irrepressibly likeable.
- Really Gets Around: Implied to have done so in his youth, and is now a platonic charmer.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: On at least one occasion by his exasperated bishop.
Finan the Agile
Commander of Uhtred's household troops.
- Badass Boast: To Uhtred, while a slave on Sverri's ship TraderFinan: Finan the Agile, they called me, because I would dance around my enemies. I would dance and kill. Dance and kill. There was a time when I owned five spears, six horses, two swords, a coat of bright mail and a helmet that shone like fire. I had a woman with hair that fell to her waist and a smile that could dim the noonday sun. Now, I gut herrings. But one day I shall come back here, and I shall kill Sverri, hump his woman, strangle his bastard children and steal his money.
- Bash Brothers: With Uhtred.
- Berserk Button: Slavers, and his younger brother.
- Dark and Troubled Past: After falling in love with and running away with his younger brother's wife, Finan was captured by the Ui Neill and forced to watch his lover raped and murdered, before being sold into slavery himself.
- Fighting Irish: An Irish warrior, and one of the best and quickest fighters in the series.
- Fire Forged Friendship: With Uhtred. They meet on a slave ship and fight to keep each other alive throughout the ordeal.
- Happily Married: To Ethne, a red-haired Scottish ex-slave. They have at least two children.
- Heterosexual Lifepartners: Often described as Uhtred's companion, and closest friend.Uhtred: I could not abandon him, not ever. We were closer than brothers, Finan and I.
- The Lancer: To Uhtred, from book 3 onwards.
- Lightning Bruiser: Known as Finan the Agile, and one of the fastest and most deadly swordsmen in the series.
- Made a Slave: After running away with his younger brother's wife, offending both his brother and the leaders of the Ui Neill tribe, the parents of Finan's own wife.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Against the crew of Trader after being rescued from slavery by Ragnar the Younger on the Red Ship.
- A slightly more restrained version against his brother Conall in Warriors of the Storm.
- Undying Loyalty: To Uhtred, sticking with him through thick and thin.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: His friendship with Uhtred is mostly based on the two being Bash Brothers and insulting each other.