Dear Mr. Cornwell,
I first discovered your stories in mid 2005 while I was in the Marine Corps (US, not British Royals), stationed in Iwakuni Japan. Like so many others, I read the Richard Sharpe series and loved it. It took me more than two years to complete the reading as I rationed myself and only allowed a book every 3-4 weeks. I have re-read several of the books and am particularly fond of the India based books.
In part this may be because I am an American who grew up in post-colonial Kenya with many Indian and colonial British friends. I'm actually stunned I did not discover your stories sooner in my life as I am an avid reader of historical adventure. I currently read about 100-150 books a year (across many genres), if that gives you an idea how disciplined my rationing of your stories has been!
Since I completed the Sharpe books, I've moved through your other books at a very slow pace, allowing myself no more than one or two a year. Generally these are reserved for a holiday with my family when I can stay up as late as I like without repercussions the following morning!
I was retired from the Marine Corps in mid 2013 following an extensive spinal surgery that has resulted in (ahem) limited physical capabilities and some ongoing issues. Since then I've been struggling within the Veterans Healthcare System within the U.S. to get the treatment I need and find relief. I share this with you not out of a desire for sympathy, but rather to illustrate what a wonderful distraction and inspiration your stories have been.
Thomas of Hookton is my favorite of your characters because I identify with him so closely. Reading about his experience with the inquisitor and his ability to overcome a broken body has been something of a rallying cry for me mentally. Between my real life models and Thomas, I keep my spirits up. Your books have also provided an incredible mental relief for me. On particularly bad days, I pull out a book and lose myself in its pages. They are a wonderful therapy and your books, among a very short list of other authors, always guarantee me a refuge. Thank you for your stories!
Moreover, you've been an inspiration to me as a story teller. I've always woven tales and enjoyed sharing an experience with an audience, and through my reading and the encouragement of respected friends, have decided to write stories myself. Have no fear! I WILL NOT be sending you an unsolicited manuscript and asking you to read it! I will find critique partners, an editor and an agent through more traditional means and seek a way to publication there. I simply wanted to share that your stories play a large part in my desire and decision to publish my own stories.
I am a particular fan of your battle scenes. You don't shy away from details, and they are the sort of details one notices in a fight. Without becoming overly gory, your voice pulls readers into the thick of things. This may be one of the reasons military men and women identify so closely with your literature. I am also a huge fan of your historical notes as they have provided me with references I could further research. I've become an avid supporter of the Duke of Wellington thanks to the notes in your Sharpe's books!
Thank you again for the many pleasant hours and for sharing your stories with all of us. I look forward to the television series featuring Uhtred that will air later this fall!