Your Questions

Q

Good evening sir,

I have been a fan of yours for many years. Recently I have been re-reading some of your books and they are just as much fun the second time. In fact, Thomas of Hookton and I shared pint just last evening.

I really love the 'Last Kingdom'. In reading the series I have become fascinated with the character of Aethelflaed. It is incredible to me that a woman would assume the throne at a time when that very concept would've seemed absurd. I think she is one the great understated characters in all of literature. 'The Last Kingdom' has inspired me to read more about the Lady of Marcia though it seems like there isn't a whole lot of material out there. Do you have any recommendations?

Chad Hague

A

She has been under-appreciated, you're right, although she is remembered in the English midlands (once Mercia) and there are a couple of statues of her.  I'd recommend Founder, Fighter, Saxon Queen; Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians by Margaret C. Jones.


Q

Hi Bernard,

have read all your books to date. Loved them all, however I especially enjoyed Waterloo. Not just the fact of the time period it covered but that it was an accurate description of a real event. Almost a documentary in a book.

Do you have any plans to revisit this type of book?

Nathan

A

I don't!  I think this may well be my only non-fiction book!


Q

Come on BC.  Who's up for a socially distant summer production?  One act play, socially distanced on some beach in Wellfleet?

Cheers,

Peter Duprey

A

Romeo and Juliet six feet apart? And the audience socially distanced from each other? It’s a nice thought, but I suspect totally impractical!

 


Q

Hi,

You are my favourite author; this year will be twenty years since I first read one of your books, I was just a kid then and I have grown up with them. I love your writing, but...

I have just finished reading Sword of Kings and I feel slightly cheated. Gisela's prophecy was that one son will break your heart, the other will make you proud, and your daughter will be the mother of kings. I was so disappointed that instead her children were just killed off stage by the plague. I don't know why, it just bugs me, I expected more - some twist that kept the whole prophecy true. The idea of fate and destiny is so important throughout the series, for it not even to have been mentioned again when they died, just galls me!

Is this the end of it? Or will the final book come back to it in some way?

Thanks!

Sian

A

It’s not the end . . . the final book does revisit it (in part)


Q

Good day Mr. Cornwell

Just finished after only a few days reading "Waterloo", which I very much enjoyed. Just two things:

In the first paragraph of the epilog you write, that Napoleon was buried "in a beautiful valley with view of the Atlantic" (I read the German version, so original wording will be a bit different probably). I have been on St. Helena a few times and the (now empty) tomb is located in a dip in the small Sane valley. Even considering that in 1821 the vegetation was not as dense as it is now, there is no view of the Atlantic. It is a romantic thought though ;-).

I'm not sure who is correct on this detail, also in the epilog, third paragraph. There it is stated that Maréchal Ney was executed wearing his uniform. According to the website senate.fr he wore civil cloth: "Le maréchal est vêtu d’une redingote bleue, d’un gilet noir, d’une culotte courte et de bas de soie noire, et ne porte aucune décoration : il n’est donc pas nécessaire de le faire dégrader." A painting of the execution dated 1868 and now at the Sheffield Museum also shows him in civil cloth.

But once again, I very much enjoyed reading the book about the battle of Waterloo as told by you. Thank you for this reading pleasure.

Best regards

Urs Steiner, Switzerland

A

This is odd – I distinctly remember seeing the sea from that grave-site, but who knows?  Memory plays tricks and I’ve long lost the photographs I took there, and a search of images on Google seems to suggest you’re right!

 

I guess I was wrong again!


Q

Dear Bernard

I did wonder if you'd ever heard about the Siege of Compiegne 1430. It was a tiny fight in the Hundred Years War but it did involve the capture of Joan of Arc. Especially the role the English reinforcements including Archers played in that capture. The Archer in question is described as a sour man but doesn't name him. I wondered if you knew the name of said Archer ?

Geraint

A

I don’t know the name of the archer! I’m not surprised he was a ‘rough and sour man’, but who he was? I suspect his name is lost to history, as is the name of the archer who wounded Jeanne d’Arc at the Siege of Orleans.


Q

Good evening Mr Cornwell.

I hope you are well and avoiding the Covid 19.I have just finished Sword of Kings which I enjoyed immensely as I have all the other books in the series.There is one issue I'd like to raise though, which Rick Keeson also raised on 13th January on your website regarding Cripplegate.

Mr Keeson suggested you may have muddled your London gates.You politely suggested it would be 'immensely rude' of you to suggest he was wrong. Unfortunately, I'm going to be immensely rude (but that's me!!) and suggest that you are in error. Before my retirement in 2010,my office was two or three hundred yards from The Museum of London, the remains of the London wall and specifically the sight of Cripplegate at the junction of Wood St. and St. Alphage Garden. On many occasions, lunchtime walks took me to all these places and I am very familiar with the area. The gate was definitely in the north facing wall of the Roman fort, about 200 yards from it's western wall. The Wallbrook (also mentioned in Sword of Kings) is to the east and the next gate to the east of that was indeed Bishopsgate (Moorgate didn't exist at that time).

I have enjoyed your books over more than 2 decades and am looking forward to the next installment.

Finally, many thanks for mentioning the Wirral Archaeological finds. That one passed me by but I can now watch out for developments.

Keep safe

Nick

A

You’re quite right! Mea culpa.


Q

I love the Netflix series based on the books and found out that the series are formed versions of 2 books at a time does that mean you will be making more books to keep the series going and do you know if there will be a fifth series?

Jamie Hunter

A

I don't know if there will be a fifth season of the tv show (I hope there will be!); but my next book War Lord will be the 13th (and last) book of the series.


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell,

I wouldn't be able to write to you without first noting my appreciation for your novels, as a teenager, the Sharpe books began a long running obsession with the Napoleonic era.

This obsession certainly played a part in bringing me to my current place in life: completing a degree in history.

I'm currently undertaking some research on military memoirs of the Peninsula campaign, particularly looking at the men of the 95th and how their legacy has evolved.

The Sharpe series has created perhaps the most iconic representation of these men, I was curious then, to ask about the role military memoirs played in shaping your work.

I'd be especially curious to ask your thoughts on "The recollections of Rifleman Harris" and if it was this work that prompted the inclusion of your own Harris in the novels, whether your Harris was inspired by his namesake, or more of a creative license.

I suppose your research for Sharpe was some time ago now, but any thoughts you have on military memoirs as a historical source would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again for your work and too for humouring the questions of a fan,

Kind Regards,

Oz

 

A

You’re right that my research for Sharpe was a long time ago! But it did, of course, include many memoirs – including Rifleman Harris’s. I don’t recall anything specific I drew from any memoir – I took a lot of anecdotes from them, but they were especially useful at everyday details which usually escape the more formal histories. John Kincaid was another rifleman who left a wonderful account, though perhaps my most enlightening source was a German, August Schaumann, who was a commissary officer in the Peninsula and had a wonderful eye for detail and anecdote. The memoirs – and the collection of letters – were by far the best sources I used.


Q

Dear Bernard,

 

I just finished Sword of Kings and I very much enjoyed it.  I thought the way Aethelstan killed his brother at the end somewhat mirrored how Norwenna died in The Winter King.  I am looking forward to the final book in October to see how Uhtred copes in war when he's pushing 80!

I have a couple of questions about the Last Kingdom series.

  1. Did you ever consider killing off Uhtred and replacing him with his son as the narrator/main protagonist, for example between The Pagan Lord and The Empty Throne where he nearly dies following his fight with Cnut?
  2. What was the nature of the oath Uhtred swore to Edward in Death of Kings? It is at the bottom of page 165 of that book.

Toby

A

I thought about it at one time, then decided against the idea. I think I was too fond of the father!

 

He swears to support Edward as King of Wessex, basically to please Edward’s dying father, Alfred.