I think the series has some serious ambiguity for those who didn’t read the book! Who are John Uskglass and the Raven King? (In the series they said they are two different persons.) What do they want? Are they good men or not?


They're different names/titles for the same person.

John Uskglass is his human name - whether or not it's his real name, the one he was born with, is unknown, but there's nothing special about the name itself unless you know who it is. The title of "the Raven King" sounds much more impressive and mystical. Which name you use might indicate your stance towards him: "the Raven King" is a term of respect, whereas "John Uskglass" makes him sound more normal and mortal.

It's hardly feasible to write everything we know about him in the space of a Stack Exchange answer, but you can read more information about the character at the Strange & Norrell wiki.

As for whether he's good or bad, I don't think that question really makes sense. He transcends those concepts, like the fairies he grew up among. We might say the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair is evil, but the truth is rather that he's neither good nor evil - he's just different, alien to us and our concept of morality. He's capricious, uncaring, and simply inhuman in the most literal sense. The same could be said of the Raven King. His acts might be seen as good or evil, but really he's neither.

  • Thank you... But about the last paragraph... I really thought he “meant” to be devil... as they were using words “depraved” and “cruel” for him.
    – F P
    Oct 13 '18 at 19:23

In the book, John Uskglass was the Raven King, a historical figure who, like Arthur, is expected to be capable of returning. He was a human child who was raised in Faerie, and whose magical powers exceeded all other humans. (For, as the book points out, Humans are weak in Magic but strong in Reason; Fairies are the opposite.) After re-emerging into the Human world, he gained a kingdom, presumably around Yorkshire (I believe Childermass comments about how the people there remember him).

At no point do I recall him being described as "evil" (as opposed to "good"), but he was powerful and inscrutable. He is remembered as a protector of his people.

I cannot find my copy of the book now, but the footnotes do contain a lot of what is known about the Raven King.

  • Thank You... I found the dialogue made me puzzled: Mr.Norrell: “Surely John Uskglass is his name? That is the name of the Norman aristocrat who the Raven King, our John Uskglass, claimed as his father. But that is most disputed.”
    – F P
    Oct 13 '18 at 19:04
  • When the child emerged from Faerie, he took a human name, as he'd been raised without one; the name he took was that of his putative human father. But, of course, after you've disappeared into Faerie for some number of years, it's not completely clear you are who you say you are. And in any case, anyone dealing with Faerie keeps their name private, as names have power - so for the Raven King to take on the name "John Uskglass" after his father was practical, controversial after time (because just "taking" a name always is), and meaningless in the large scheme of things.
    – gowenfawr
    Oct 13 '18 at 19:27
  • Which is another reason he's known as the "Raven King"; it reflects that his identity is a little fluid and he prefers to be addressed by reference than by true name :)
    – gowenfawr
    Oct 13 '18 at 19:28
  • Thanks for detailed answers
    – F P
    Oct 13 '18 at 20:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.