Your Questions

Q

hey just a quick query, where would be the best place to look up sources, especially primary on Wellington's campaigns 1808-1814...thanks and have you got a tile for the viking novel yet? John

A

Start with the bibliographies in any decent book about the campaigns - the most recent (much wider than just Wellington's activities) is Charles Esdaile's superb The Peninsular War, but there are also good books by Michael Glover and, of course, Jac Weller. Those bibliographies will give sources and you'll probably find yourself at the archives of the National Army Museum, or you could join the Army Records Society - their website is www.armyrecordssociety.org.uk.

The new book will likely be called The Last Kingdom.


Q

Sir Bernard (you should be knighted hopefully soon)! 20 years ago in Newport Beach California a little old lady librarian guided me to your books at their library. I had inquired about a series of books similar to Hornblower/Aubrey/Bolitho/Dodd etc. and she kindly guided me to yours, at that time less than 5 were on their shelves. Since then I have read all of your trilogies/singles/unfinished serials (Starbuck) and short stories. I am looking forward to Sharpe's Havoc/Escape/Christmas and Heretic, and I agree with you, they should not have changed Harlequin to Archers Tale. I also own the Sharpe DVD box set. Will you ever write more Starbuck's? I loved the connection with Sharpe's son riding with JEB Stuart and the old sword he carried! Will you ever write a Napoleonic Nautical Patrick O'Brien type adventures? All those authors have finished or should have finished those serials or died? Anyways, I just wanted to thank you and am sorry to have taken your time out from writing to read and answer my email. You may use my rare English/Scottish sur name LEEDLE as a character in any of your books but hopefully he will not be a BAD guy, LOL. I wore the Green Beret many years ago 72-75 I noticed that the military color designation labeled inside was (Rifle Green). I have always wondered if that was in reference to Rifleman Green Uniforms, it appears to be the exact same color? Your long time fan, Michael Leedle

A

I suspect it was Rifleman's green. And Leedle's on the list (it's a long list!). I don't plan on Napoleonic nautical adventures but I do hope to get back to Starbuck some day!


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell, Sorry about my constant questions as I know even now you are probably absorbed in the writing of a new book. I suppose you can't let anything slip about the plot? It will be about Alfred the Great am I right? I have read all of your books bar 'A crowning Mercy' and that is on the to do list. Lee Brake

A

Up to a point it's Alfred the Great - but the tale is told by someone else who, frankly, doesn't like Alfred. So Alfred is, if you like, the background story. Give away the plot? I'll quote you the suggested jacket copy;

"I had been given a perfect childhood, perfect, at least, to the ideas of a boy. I was raised among men, I was free, I ran wild, was encumbered by no laws, was troubled by no priests and was encouraged to violence." Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of 9th Century Northumbria, but orphaned at ten, adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the last English kingdom when the Danes have overrun Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia.

That war, with its massacres, defeats and betrayals, is the background to Uhtred's childhood, a childhood which leaves him uncertain of his loyalties, but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred's kingdom. Marriage ties him further to the West Saxon cause, but when his wife and child vanish in the chaos of a Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest of the Viking chieftains in a battle beside the sea, and there, in the horror of a shield-wall, he discovers his true allegiance.

The title of the book will most likely be The Last Kingdom and it will be published (at least in the UK) in October.


Q

I was wondering why, when you wrote Sharpe's Tiger, you made Sharpe a private while he was imprisoned with Lawford when in the books that were written earler but took place later it often says he was a sergeant during that time. Was it a deliberate change or just a mistake? Daniel Thomas

A

I think I changed his rank in Sharpe's Tiger because the story demanded it, knowing that it clashed with things I'd written in other books - but the story always wins!


Q

I've really enjoyed the Sharpe, the Grail, and the Warlord series. They had robbed me of days of sleep. There's one thing about the Richard Sharpe that fascinates me the most. Is "Dick" Sharpe capable of long term relationships with women? He had plenty of mistresses, "acquaintances", wives etc. They are a sizeable and admirable lot. But they all, well, kind of, left Sharpe. So............ Alfonso

A

'Frailty, thy name is woman,' Shakespeare said that, not me. Some of Sharpe's women were so frail they died. Others were introduced in the second series and, because they aren't mentioned in the first, have to go the way of all flesh. But Sharpe and Lucille last for ever.


Q

Dear Bernard, This is a strange question but I have a reason for asking, where do you go to think and which place in UK gave you most inspiration for a book. When I was posted to Larkhill in Wiltshire I use to like running or walking the dog past Stonehenge, over the open fields then back home, it always cleared my head and helped me solve problems. Now, posted to South Wales I clear my head and relax by sea fishing off the sea wall in the Mumbles, Swansea. What works for you? Paul Jeffreys

A

Dorset, first and foremost, and of Dorset, Maiden Castle. After Dorset, Devon. And not forgetting Bamburgh Castle which is a magical place. And I could go on, but those are the chief places.


Q

Mr. Cornwell, I'm a long and loyal fan, read everything you've written, but find the Sharpe series to be my favorite. I have but two questions Sir, What in the bleeding world is a "false dawn" ? and where did the term come from? Love your work, Please keep it up! I remain your humble servant, Joel Raymond

A

A 'false dawn' - it comes, I'm astonished you need to ask, from the Arabic 'subh kadib', and is a transient light which precedes the true dawn by about an hour, a phenomenon common in the East. I didn't know that either, so that's a direct quote from the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume V, p. 699.


Q

I just finished reading "The Gallows Thief" and thoroughly enjoyed it ,as I have the rest of your books I've read. I found the character of Rider Sandman engrossing and was wondering if you're considering including him in future works? I also would be very keen in seeing the secondary character of "Hood" the highwayman in his own set of adventures. Just a thought is all. But I must say again I do enjoy your writing and appreciate your use language to convey character and emotion. T. Davies

Dear Mr. Cornwell: I'm a great fan of your work but just discovered Rider Sandman! Any plans for him to continue beyond "Gallows Thief"? Many thanks. Robert Sallin

I just finished reading The Gallows Thief. I loved it. Are you planning any sequels to this Rider Sandman book? If so, when do you think it will be published? I want to be first in line to buy it. Rob Krukowski

A

I'm thinking of writing another Rider Sandman book next - but as I've only just finished a book I'm not absolutely certain what the next thing will be - but it's more than possible that it will be with Sandman - I like him - never meant there to be more than one book, but who knows? Seems likely. Hood? I think he'll have to be content to be in any Sandman books, but a nice idea.


Q

Mr.Cornwell: Could you please tell me in which book the character "Lassan" was and is he Richard's son? I'd like to see Richard have some future contact w/ his daughter. I could imagine her as a freedon fighter in the Spanish mts. Will either be included in future books? You are an excellent storyteller. Thank you for hours of incredible time travel. Glenda Lockhart

A

The character Patrick Lassan appears in the Starbuck books (and as an infant in the short story 'Sharpe's Ransom'). My daughter, also called Antonia, would like an answer to this question. I have no idea, is the answer, but it's certainly possible, even probable that she'll make a re-appearance. She ought to, you're right.


Q

Dear Sir, I was wondering why you do not like to read previous books you have written such as Sharpe's Eagle but are still able to tie in old characters to current books that first appeared 20 years ago. I was also wondering why you do not make any appearances in Scotland for book signings and so on, you do have many fans north of the border. We do not hold any grudges against Sassanachs (English) any more, looking forward to you visiting in the future. Chris Pollock.

A

I do make trips to Scotland - with great enjoyment, too, but for some reason the publisher hasn't booked me north of the border for three or four years - maybe in 2005? As for reading old books? Well, when you write them you go through them 6 or 7 times, then you get page proofs, then galley proofs, and by then you've read the book nearly ten times, and it seems enough!