Your Questions

Q

Hi Bernard,

Will you be giving us a preview of War of the Wolf to keep us going until publish date?

Cheers

Chris

 

Mr Cornwell

I believe that prior to the release of The flamebearer (or maybe it was a earlier book in the series) you were kind enough to post an excerpt of the book prior to release to pacify your eager followers. Is it possible you might similarly give us something to keep us going before the release next month?

I'll be rereading The Flamebearer shortly, and anxiously awaiting the 20th September.

Thanks for the pleasure your writing provides

Best regards,

Dave Hyland

A

Yes!  An excerpt is now available, you can find it here:

http://www.bernardcornwell.net/books/war-of-the-wolf/


Q

Mr. Cornwell,

I am a small engine/motorcycle mechanic (smaller bikes, not Harley's), amateur Philosopher (just reading, not philosophizing) and I try to read as much as I possibly can.  I ran into a book by Rafael Sabatini, "Sea Hawk," with an introduction by you.  Some of the words and sentence structure in the book seem to be beyond my normal usage, such as 'Noll,' and 'Lal,' which I think is a misprint for Lad but I am not so sure.  I have researched some of these problems all the way back to the OED but have found no solutions.

I have no intention of taking up your time or bothering you so if these questions are trite or meaningless to you I will go away quickly.

Maybe there is a phrase book or some kind of dictionary I should look for?  Any suggestions from you will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Clark Phillips (retired)

A

I do love that book!  But it’s been years since I read it!  I don’t remember Noll and Lal . . . are they names? Noll, an obscure word, refers to the top of the head- the crown of your skull, perhaps that’s it? Lal does seem to be a misprint . . . . .

 


Q

Dear Bernard

I love your books. I have devoured several series and your work has rekindled an interest in history that I had long forgotten I had. Next weekend I am going to an  Anglo Saxon exhibition and it is all thanks to Uhtred.

However, I am conscious that across your wide range of books, the central character is always male. This saddens me, because there have been some great, influential and interesting women in history (and that's just in the non-fiction section!) Admittedly feisty women in history weren't the norm, but then the likes of Sharpe, Uhtred and Derfel weren't run-of-the mill personalities either.

I would therefore like to know if you would ever consider putting a female character at the centre of one of your stories in the future?

Yours sincerely,

Clare

A

I have considered it, and even done a lot of research into that particular woman and her world, but will I write it and her?  I don’t know. A long life and a blissfully happy marriage has convinced me that women see the world differently to mere men.  I’m confident writing about the latter, but the former sometimes baffle me.  We write best (I think) when we write what we know about and women, much as I love them, are something of a mystery. In my defence I do try to make my female characters strong!  I’m always annoyed when, in films or TV, a couple are fleeing danger and the girl or woman always has to trip over and be rescued – why can’t the man or boy trip sometimes? In my books the women don’t fall over. A brownie point, please?

 


Q

After finding the last kingdom and reading all ten books, I became an avid fan of yours and you have somewhat incitiated my fascination with the 'dark ages' in England. I am now reading the war lord chronicles & my question is about Excalibur. You end mentioned in the book a few times that people were 'buried feet to the north holding their sword', as Aelle also requested and I'd like to know more about this and why facing north? I'm aware that people are buried facing to the east and 'pagans' did so, but I'd not heard about feet facing north.

If you have time to expand for me that would be amazing!

Kind regards,

Coral Watkin

A

Good Lord, did I say that?  I hate to disappoint you, but I have absolutely no recollection of that. I’m sure I wrote it, and equally certain I had a source, but what it was? I have no idea. It’s a horrible fault of mine not to note down my sources – mainly because, as a fiction writer, I don’t need to add footnotes or endnotes, so making a record of a source is just a waste of my time and then leads to totally unhelpful answers such as this. I wish I could amaze you, but I have failed – sorry.

 


Q

Hi Bernard

I can't but help longing for a long conversation between Wellington and Sharpe, perhaps in Sharpe's tent, away from prying eyes, where they discuss there joint past, how far they have come. It would be brilliant if Wellington broke his own barrier and thanked Sharpe for all he has done. It would be such an interesting scene as I am sure Sharpe would be incredibly embarrassed. Would the par of them getting drunk over a bottle of French Red be plausible?

Thank you for all your books Bernard.

Terry

 

The Sharpe series seemed to kind of fade out.  Have you any plans to write any more about Sharpe and Harper?

Tony Last

A

If I write the Sharpe book I’m hoping to write one day (soon?) then I think that conversation will take place . . . . . it’s been in my mind anyway!

 


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell.

I write to you with a question in mind, after the Sharpe films were finished, did you ever receive any offer to revive the series (after 2008)? Another question if you will, if  a large network  like Netflix, offered to reboot Sharpe would you take them up on it?

Ewan Wilton

A

There’s been some talk of reviving the series, but I don’t think it’s gone anywhere.  I keep a distance from all proposals to make TV or film of my books, not because I don’t like such projects, I do, but because  the film and TV producers know their business – so any offer? Of course I’d say yes, then go back to sleep!


Q

Hello Mr. Cornwell,

I read you find all our guesses very amusing to read, and I can feel it in your answers. Thank you for taking the time to reply to us! We may never find but it is a lot of fun to look for it! You said Sharpe's father is in your head.. I'll give a try with a very simple guess: His Sharpe's father name Poilain?

Best,

Imene Lafendi

 

Was Sharpe's father Charles Darnay from the Tale of Two Cities? French emigre, Smuggled out of Paris and replaced by Sydney Carton (you out me in).

Cheers

Chris

 

Hi Bernard,

I can think of a few words Richard would employ if he was to be given the mission to find out his father's identity with all these clues.... they all begin with B !!! :-)  I have come to the conclusion that we have all been looking for a someone....when in fact the father is a no-one.....so we do not know who he was....but you know what he was..........so by simplifying......I think he was ....disappointingly.....a PETTY SMUGGLER.....now phonetically that sounds pretty french:-)

Cheers

Danny

 

Another crack at the old riddle. I've an idea that his father is French. Also, that this enigmatic and morally-sound military statesman visited London in 1777. While it was February and he stayed for three weeks whilst consulting with the French ambassador to Britain (and his uncle), Sharpe might well be mistaken that his birthday is in the June of that year, due to the good old 9 month conceiving it might be nearer November/December time (if my guess is correct). The candidate in question is...Gilbert Du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. The title sounds a bit like a 'happy person' although I'm not sure if there was ever a horse called 'Lafayette'. The irony is that Lafayette was a French aristocrat while Sharpe was 'low-born' British, but both were veteran soldiers who worked their way through the ranks.

Robert Douglas

 

Thomas Preckett Prest wrote The Smuggler King; or, The Foundling of the Wreck.  (1844).  Have not read it .....it looks dull...so no French Connection....but in light of the Prince of Smugglers comment and the Ironic foundling link....I thought I might submit:  The Smuggler King as Sharpe's father

Dan

 

Last guess for now,  If Edward's daughter can be close with Cutthroat from Pugwash I feel vindicated in suggesting  Jean LaFoot of Captain Crunch fame 😄

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_LaFoote

Dan

 

Hello Bernard,

I'd like to propose that John Minet Fector 1754-1821 is Sharpe's father.  The Baccy for the clerk reference led me to Seasalter Parsonage farm the headquarters for a smuggling ring in Kent.  While there were various characters associated with running the Parsonage there's a theory that the benefactor and godfather for this operation and most of the smuggling in Kent and Sussex as well, was John Minet Fector, a reputable banker.  From Hugenot stock I guess the irony here would be that while Sharpe was busy cracking French heads this guy was responsible for aiding Napoleon's war effort considerably, by smuggling gold and French prisoners back into France.  You could still say he is fictional as it's only a theory and was never proven.  Even if this is wrong it led to me to find out about quite a cool story, that I assume you must already be aware of?  Thanks

Paul Miller

 

If Sharpe's father is a character in your head is there any way of us working out who he is? Or have you not written him yet?

Mike Davidson

 

Hi Bernard,

I am now convinced that Sharpe's father was a character you invented in the early days, perhaps you were looking for a swashing character before you discovered Richard...who took off....I think you based your character on Louis Mandrin who was a Robin Hood type character ....a rough and tumble smuggler with a  heart to boot...maybe he developed into Sharpe or the latter came along, having similar qualities.....perhaps you felt your smuggler character deserved a slot in Richard's life.

His name was:  Louis (or Louis Mandrin) Prince of Smugglers.   The Prince of Smugglers was nickname the real Louis Mandrin coined ...so it fits   He was French ..which fits...a smuggler ..which fits because he exists in your head timing is immaterial....he can have existed whenever you wanted him to....but his real namesake...existed roughly at the time Richard was born which is appropriate.  Irony...well he was French..which fits.  He was predominantly (but not exclusively) a tobacco smuggler...which fits.  Mandrin has been mentioned a couple of times in questions....with very positive answers! The original Louis was a leader of men, with 300 men he led like a regiment...not unlike his son Richard and like Sharpe he was handy with a sabre and pistol If this is wrong....it cannot be far wrong...can it????

as ever, best wishes

Dan

(Riflemam)

 

Is Sharpe's father Claude Mandrin French smuggler and brother of Louis Mandrin?  As always much research has gone into this and I will happily explain how this ticks all the boxes if necessary.

Thank you as always for your time.

Eddie T

 

Hi Bernard,

I'm glad I was so close with my last guess of the prince of smugglers. I was obviously thinking of Louis Mandrin but he died too early, I was hoping maybe he managed to escape somehow in a fictional story that I hadn't discovered.  I also couldn't seem to find if he had any descendants but seeing as we're so close I'll try 'The son of the prince of smugglers' to add the crucial detail that's missing or perhaps 'The legendary Prince of smugglers' ie. someone claiming to be him with a dodgy french accent!  Thanks for your time responding to all the questions and the many, many great novels. I'm curently reading stonehenge but eagerly anticipating the war of the wolf.

All the best,

Ben

 

We have established that neither Lois Mandrin nor his friend Benoît Brissaud is Sharpe's father, but would DNA testing reveal a familia match with either one?

Stephen A Rose

 

Is Sharpe's father a French spy (a smuggler of information)? The irony would be that Sharpe fought the French for most of his career and one of his main enemies was Ducos, a renowned French spy.

Chris Spackman

 

 

 

A

Okay, you have the vital two words . . . . . all I know at the moment is that Sharpe’s father was a French smuggler. That’s it!  I like the irony that Sharpe’s father is a Frenchman.  We know his mother came from Dawes Heath in Essex which was a smuggler’s haunt and she must have fallen for a handsome, smooth-talking Frenchman and so gives birth to a Frenchman’s nightmare – Richard Sharpe.

SO THAT’S IT! No more!  That’s all I know, and you’ve all been wonderful at finding a solution and many of you have come incredibly close, but the answer, such as it is, is that Sharpe’s father is a French smuggler.


Q

Dear Bernard

I know in the past, you've been asked about the English Civil War and your dislike of Cromwell but I wondered if you'd ever considered the Campaigns of Sir Thomas Fairfax, he was a brilliant General while being very unpuritan like as a person and it was he not Cromwell that commamded the Army won Naseby the most decisive battle. As a General he seems very forgotten about Regards

Geraint

A

I’ve considered it . . . . but something about the English Civil War leaves me cold. I don’t know why . . . the New Model Army was a revolutionary force and there’s a lot there of interest. I won’t say never, but time flies and, tragic though it is, I’m mortal. Just say ‘perhaps’?


Q

You write as though you’ve stood in a shield wall and gutted your enemy. As though you’ve raced a viking longboat through a rocky channel on a flooding tide.

What have you done?

Does your parole officer know?

Are you glad the Carter administration refused you a green card?

Thomas Ray Worley

 

A

I couldn’t be happier that I was refused a Green Card!  Probably the American taxman is just as happy! Life is strange!  If I hadn’t met Judy by chance in Edinburgh there would probably be no books, who knows? I’ll let you know the next time I’m in a shield wall – you can join us!

 


Q

Dear Bernard,

I'm a bit confused about something in the 1970 film 'Waterloo'. I understand that, after Quatre Bras, Ney was eager to learn from his mistake in not pursuing the retreating Anglo-Dutch force. Perhaps Wellington knew this and so goaded him beyond the ridge to fall upon deployed square formations. However, my real question is why did Ney position his cavalry for attack in the first place? Did he really hope to 'copy' what the Scots Greys had done to French artillery? Or was it all originally part of a more co-ordinated cavalry/infantry/artillery strategy (before Wellington's feint had roused the hot-headed general to a more rash course of action)? Or, did Ney hope to simply charge the Allied lines in an attempt to sweep them off the ridge? Did Wellington spot a possible co-ordinated attack and pulled his troops back to relative safety of behind the ridge, with some cover from enemy artillery, thus fooling Ney into thinking that it was a headlong retreat? If this is what really happened, then something must have spurred Ney to a grievous mistake. I understand that while Ney was a competent general regarding certain battles, he also made some costly errors. Also, for the record, I feel his execution wasn't right, he deserved better than that - whatever his crime.

Robert Douglas

A

I totally agree with you about the appalling injustice of Ney’s execution, it was scape-goating an extremely brave man who deserved better.  I don’t think Ney had assembled cavalry to make that attack. He had a formidable force of cavalry on the left wing (positioned to either attack or defend), saw what he thought was an opportunity, and summoned more and more cavalry (drawing some from the centre) to reinforce the charges. The first charge had far fewer men than the later ones.  I don’t think Wellington goaded him, though undoubtedly he would have done if he had been able to see what Ney saw from the heights on the left.  Wellington was playing defence all day.  He drew the right wing back behind the crest to protect them from Napoleon’s guns and then saw, doubtless to his surprise, that the French intended to assail the ridge with cavalry.  It would take a very short time to go from line to square.  The generally accepted story is that Ney could see over the British ridge and, though the land behind the crest was hidden, he could see the country much further back and could see what looked like a general retreat towards the forest of Soignes. He was wrong and a lot of very brave horsemen died. And yes, Ney believed the British line was thinning and a determined cavalry attack would scour them from the ridge. If he’d been right then he would have been the hero of the day. His mistake was in persevering with the charges when it was obvious the British were not retreating.

 


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