Your Questions

Q

Hello Mr. Cornwell,

I'm currently reading The Empty Throne and really enjoy your series after having found them through the Last Kingdom Netflix series. I am also a Christian who understands how some denominations have a dark, brutal, and undeniably hypocritical history. With that being said, and I know you've addressed this before, we aren't all bad. You have surrounded Uhtred with Christians, some "better" than others, and he has grown bonds with them. Some of my favorite moments in your books are when Uhtred and one of his Christian friends share moments of absolute friendship and loyalty, without a care of what God, gods, or lack thereof they worship. (My personal favorite occurs when Uhtred is sure they're going to die in the shield wall in East Anglia and has amazing dialogue with Finan and Osferth.) Is this something you intentionally weave into your story telling? Regardless if it is or not, I find it as such a great lesson to both religious and non-religious people that we can still live side-by-side if we respect each other.

Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Best Regards,

Marc

A

Thank you for that!  I fear that Uhtred takes an unholy delight in teasing Christians, whether friends or not, but you’re right in saying that he does have extremely good Christian friends – Finan?? I wanted a certain tension between Uhtred and Alfred and the best way to show that was to make them of ‘opposing’ religions. We can thank Alfred for the vision of a united England which, if he did not achieve, he certainly inspired, but at the heart of that was a second motive – a Christian England. If an enemy converted then they were no longer an enemy. Uhtred regrets the passing of the old religions which he sees as more tolerant than the monotheistic Christianity (and I believe he has a point!). I suspect he knows he’s going to lose that battle, but he’s a stubborn man!

 


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell.

I have a question about The Burning Land... you mention that Harald escapes from the battle at Fearnhamme and takes refuge at Torneie Island, near where the River Colaun meets the Temes. In the historical note you identify Torneie Island as Thorney Island and mention it has now disappeared under the sprawl of Heathrow.

I'm wondering if you recall where you got this information? I know there has been a lot of debate about the location of the medieval Thorney Island, but everything I can find about it suggests it was in the Westminster area, and I can find no mention of the Colaun at all. But a location in the Heathrow area makes so much more sense to the story than central London!

Many thanks

Phil.

A

There certainly was a Thorney Island where Westminster now is, but it was one of several . . . . the name simply means Thorn Tree Island and I suspect islands with thorn trees were fairly common. I confess I’m extremely bad at noting down my sources, so all I can assure you is that I do remember researching that island and finding the name – but where was that source? Sorry – no idea!

 

 


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell,

I am a fan, a Sharpe man all the way. May I please comment on your wonderful non fiction Waterloo, which I enjoyed from cover to cover. Please accept the following comments in the spirit they are sent.  I feel you under valued the  28th foot at the crossroads..David Scott Daniel in his book Cap of Honour gives a truer account. I know you cannot write every detail and as I could not write a book myself you may think what I have said is unfair. Lastly you made no mention what so ever of my own  regiment The Royal Horse Guards (The Blues)... surely they, as I know, carried the battle honour Waterloo on their colour. (Now Blues & Royals) I am not having a go at you but only saying what I think. I have read everyone of your books to date and only the "The Gallows Thief" was not brilliant..Come to Tewkesbury and I will gladly buy you a pint. You can't miss me, there is only one Town Crier.

Best Wishes and kindest regards & Oyez

Mike Kean-Price

A

I see you’re accusing me of making the same error as the Duke himself – who admitted late in life that he should have given more praise and, in his despatch after the battle, was certainly miserly in his compliments to most of the battalions and units who wan the day for him. I’m sorry you feel slighted! It was not intentional and I’ll make up for it by buying the pint the next time I’m in Tewkesbury!

 


Q

Hello,

I am currently reading Death Of Kings it is fantastic like the rest of the series has been. I just wondered what happened to Guthrum/Aethelstan? How did King Eohric come to rule? Thank you.

 

A

So far as I know Guthrum died of old age, or disease – a natural death, unlike Eohric who was killed in battle. I assume Eohric became king because he was the most fearsome of the Danish settlers? Beyond that I really can’t help.


Q

Hi

just want to say I am a big fan of your books and was wondering if you were ever in the town of Larne as you lived and worked in Belfast?

Phil

 

 

A

I visited Larne many times!  I loved living in Ulster – it’s time I went back!

 


Q

Hi again from Australia.  Thanks once more for your interest in my short publication on theories regarding the origin of the idea of 'Arthur'.  Thanks too for your advice here to writers.  Very sensible and useful.

This note though is to say that I was still thinking of your 'Last Kingdom' books when recently reading Alistair Moffat's book 'The Sea Kingdoms' (pub 2011).  Moffat (ex-BBC presenter) you may know from his book 'Arthur and the Lost Kingdoms'.  I've always liked his emotive style and non-academic approach.  'The Sea Kingdoms' is a bit of a grab bag on things 'Celtic' but what a tale there is within it about the Celto-Norse and Hiberno-Norse world of the Orkneys, Shetlands and Western Isles, down to Dublin and the Isle of Man: coastal kingdoms formed over sea lanes not land. An obvious geography of power, confirming what I had myself concluded re this whole region. Moffat's book illustrates how over the centuries this sea kingdom area has thrown up some compelling characters (how about an amazing Queen called Aud,The Deep Thinker?), whom I'm sure you could do much with.  Perhaps another TV series could be the eventual outcome?  A series of books on these Dark Age kingdoms and their kings, the original historical Lords of the Isles, would doubtless have a ready audience of people attracted to and bloodied in the Dark Age warrior world evoked so well by Uhtred.  For the Lords of the Isles, this period continued on well into mediaeval times.  Romantic, brutal, passionate, questing, cruel, fierce and fascinating real histories, peopled by men who fought their way to power and women who stood strong for them and for themselves too.  The Christian-Pagan tension in these tales is also very evident.

Anyway, just a thought.  Wondered if you'd read that book.

best,

Lizzie B.

A

I hate to say that I haven’t read it, but I will! It sounds fascinating. Aud, the Deep-Thinker? Wow! Thank you so much – it’s always a pleasure to find a gaping hole in my reading – I’ll hasten to fill it!

 


Q

I am a devoted fan and was wondering when we can expect the next instalment of The Last Kingdom. The characters have become like family to me.

All the best,

Stuart

 

Are you writing book 12 of The Last Kingdom?. Just finished War of the Wolf....I love this series you have me hooked and can't wait to see what happens next.

Sincerely

Linda Dotson

A

I am writing the next book now.....with hopes it will be published in October.


Q

You have often said that there will be another Sharpe book, which is wonderful news, but have you decided on the time frame? I would love to learn more about his life with Lucille Castineau and, particularly, about their son Patrick Lassan who appears briefly in the Copperhead books. He would be in his late 40s by the time of the Civil War and holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the French army, so must have led an exciting life!

Martyn Kerr

A

I doubt that Patrick Lassan will feature – but I do hope to write more about Lucille – one of my favourite characters. We’ll see! I haven’t started it yet!

 


Q

Lord,  (to be read with Finan's voice)

talking about the actors of the tv show, do you feel they match with you own perception and conceived image of each character?

and, how does it feels when you decide to "kill" a character?

Being a writer can make one feel like a father/mother of them, even the bad characters, so seems that destiny is tied up to the pen and... Heart? may it be?

Thank you so much for the joy (surprise, bittersweet and tears) I find in every page !!!

Hugs from Argentina!

Melina Pavon

A

I think they’re all splendid! Maybe some are not exactly as I envisaged, but some are much better, so I’m delighted.

Sometimes it’s extremely heart-wrenching – other times there's a satisfying relief that they’re gone!

 

 


Q

Hi ..

You are my favorite author by far. Loved the Sharpe series in particular. Just curious if you have been following the controversial (and very popular) "Curse of Oak Island" series on the History Channel and what your thoughts about if any.

Regards,

Paul Lamar

A

I fear that not only have I not followed that series, I hadn’t even heard about it till I read your question. Apologies.