Your Questions

Q

Dear Bernard,

 

You are easily my favorite author of historical fiction, and I've been reading history and historical fiction since you and I were about 10 or 11 years old. I've read most of your history-based novels (Uhtred's saga, the Grail Quest series, Azincourt, The Fort) and thought they were excellent. The Warlord Chronicles are a superb and highly plausible retelling of the Arthurian legends (and I say this as a student of medieval literature!).

However, my favorite series is the one that recounts the adventures of Richard Sharpe. I discovered the Sharpe novels soon after developing an interest in (my wife would say obsession with) the military career of the Duke of Wellington, and I'm intrigued by the relationship between these two men.

I noticed recently on your website that no one has yet correctly identified Sharpe's father. To me the most logical answer is C. S. Forester. You've stated that you started writing about Sharpe because you wanted to do for Wellington's army what Forester's Hornblower novels did for Nelson's navy. And there are several tributes to  Forester in your work. Rifleman Matthew Dodd, for example. And the British naval lieutenant named Forester in The Fort. Plus, the fact that Sharpe participates in the battle of Trafalgar, which Hornblower missed, is a major tribute in itself.

If I'm wrong, I'll quietly wipe the egg off my face while I'm waiting for your account of Waterloo to arrive from the UK. I'll have more questions another day. In the meantime, Keep up the Great Work!

 

Bill Forsman

A

It’s a terrific answer and in one sense it’s right – but in a larger sense wrong. Thank you!


Q

JUST ENJOYING YOUR NEW BOOK WATERLOO.I AM SURE COMTE D"ERLON WAS NOT A FRENCH MARSHALL. AS I RECALL NAPOLEON CREATED 26 MARSHALLS AND HE WAS NOT ONE OF THEM .PLEASE CONFIRM.

Michael Shonn

A

He wasn’t made a marshal by Napoleon, you’re right – that promotion came later.

 


Q

Dear Bernard

 

As a fan of your Hundred Years War books, I wondered (admittedly at the risk of incurring the wrath of Alex Salmond)   if you would ever consider a Prequel to Harlequin with a book on the battles of Dupplin Moor and Halidon Hill. Both great Archer victories.

 

btw I loved your non fiction book on Waterloo and if you ever consider another non fiction, it would have to be Appomattox in the American Civil War that was pretty decisive too

 

I have to ask what you thought of Joseph E Johnston as a General as he seems to generate a lot of opinion on US Civil War boards. Some blame him for Vicksburg loss (Not Grant though) while others praise him for his defence against Sherman around Atlanta etc. It seems an interesting debate

 

Yours sincerely

 

Geraint

A

Probably not. Who needs Alex Salmond’s wrath?

I’m fairly sure that Waterloo (which I’d long wanted to write) is my only non-fiction book – I don’t feel a temptation to do another!

Which I’m not qualified to enter! The debate, I mean, because I know so little of him. Sorry about that

 


Q

I'm sure others have asked how you feel on the subject but I wanted to ask. If you could vote in the Scottish election, would you be a yes or no. Also, your books have changed my life, lol, but I'm sure you don't need another email from a gushing fan. Honestly, I have been trying to decide which book I would send you to sign for years but I can't seem to choose. Hope all is well and I look forward to reading your reply.

Thank you for your time,

N.W.

A

That was a decision for the Scots, and I’m not Scottish (though like many I have Scottish ancestry). These days I’m a US Citizen so didn’t have a dog in that fight, which means, sorry, I’m not going to answer the question!  The Scots took that referendum with impressive seriousness, and must have given their answers with a great deal of thought, and I haven’t thought about it at all

 


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,

 

My name is Andreas Schneider, I am 24 years old and I study English and Spanish in Essen, Germany. I have just finished "The last kingdom" and first of all I wanted to thank you for writing such a thrilling and entertaining series of novels set in one of my favourite historic epochs, the Viking Age. I have already ordered "The pale horseman" and I cannot wait to read more about Uhtred's and the other protagonists' lives.

 

I have two questions, though, which are connected to two comments the narrator Uhtred makes on Norse Mythology. First, on page 259 he states that "the world was made by Thor from the carcass of Ymir". But wasn't the earth created by Odin and his two brothers Vili and Vé in Norse Mythology? I am not an expert on the subject, just an interested student, but I have never read "your" version of this event. The second question deals with a similar subject. On page 302/303 it is said that "Ran was Njord's wife", although I only know of sources where she is described as the giant Aegir's wife (whereas Njörd's wife, as far as I know, is the giantess Skadi). I know that sometimes in Norse Mytholgy we lack definite knowledge, but I always thought these two cases to be relatively clear.

 

I really do not want to be a small-minded bother debating with you on "stupid little details", I just thought that maybe you, as a succesful author, might have knowledge or sources about Norse Mythology that I do not possess, and then I would really like to be enlightened by you.

 

Again, I much enjoyed reading the first novel of the series!

 

Best regards,

Andreas Schneider

A

I’m not sure I can enlighten you – there are various versions and most of the information comes late (and from Icelandic sources, which is fine, but may have mutated over the years) and I just pick from whatever contradiction I like!  I’m probably not consistent . . . mea culpa.

 


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,

 

I really like your books - not all of them - but most and I spend some joyful hours reading them. I really like stories from the 18th century and the Napoleonic Wars.

 

Some years ago I took part in a historic walk on and around the battlefield of Minden 1759 which was part of a military course. I red a lot about Minden in the aftermath (an impressive battle which is widely unknown in Germany). I wondered, if that could be an interesting topic for an book?!

 

Sure, I've read your guidelines - but I think the general suggestion of Minden and the remark that it is a fascinating story is not really what anyone could call an "idea" for a book at all.

 

So, maybe you think about it - I would be really happy to read about Minden. So far I can only thank you for your lovely books which gave me a lot of joyful reading. "Waterloo" is the next one on the list.

 

Best regards from Germany

Felix Bertmaring

A

It would be! But will I live long enough to get to that? Maybe!


Q

Hi Bernard,

I know alternate history isn't really your thing - but I was wondering about your opinion on a speculation of four parts: Even with the Royal Navy guarding the Channel, would it have been possible for Napoleon's 'Boulogne Army' to land in England? How would the British homeland forces have fared against Napoleon's seasoned troops? And if Napoleon succeeded in conquering England, who would have been installed as king? Given his ambitious temperament, I'm not certain if he would have stopped at the border with Scotland and have ensured it as a sort of independent protectorate - I've often wondered if the Highlander regiments would have swapped the red coat for a blue one, volunteer regiments?

Robert Douglas

A

They’re interesting questions . . . .my feeling is that any such invasion would have been doomed, the Royal Navy was simply too big and, crucially, the flat-bottomed barges that Napoleon had built for the invasion were extremely unseaworthy. It would have been a nightmare crossing needing a south-east breeze and a calm sea and a sleeping Royal Navy. It’s possible, of course. The unlikely does happen! As to who would have been king? I assume one of the Emperor’s brothers! They were given most of the other thrones of Europe!


Q

Hi, I am sure you have been asked many times but have you any plans for further Sharpe adventures?

 

thank you for your time.

Wayne Martin

A

I think there may be one or two more adventures for Sharpe!


Q

Mr. Cornwell,

I am very fond of your writing, especially, your Viking Warrior series. The character Uhtred jumps off the page for me and I enjoy his humor. I would like to know how you research your books and do you set up a timeline or an outline as I had to do for my master's thesis for my graduate degree in American History. I am curious as to how you devise your plots in your books and how they actually form the book. I know you are busy and I do not expect a long answer I would just like to know how you approach your writing.

Respectfully,

Darlene Perry, Havre de Grace, Maryland, USA.

 

A

An outline?  No, I don't.  I have a very broad idea of where I want the book to go, then just let the characters sort it out amongst themselves.  I'm not saying this is the right way to do it - some writers plot very carefully, and their books are great, but others, like me, leave it to instinct.

 

 


Q

In my attempt to read all of your books I have now started the Arthur Books. I would be  very interested to know your reasons for painting Lancelot's character as a less than heroic one, Has any background reading led you to this or just an authors own viewpoint?

Best regards.

Andy Pidgeon

A

I fear from my own imagination, no where else.  Lancelot was a late addition to the legends, so I felt free to do much as I wanted with him, and if he's cuckolding Arthur then he's no hero to me! 


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