Your Questions

Q

Hello and happy New Year to you! (Better late than never). I have a few questions about the Pale Horseman after finishing it for the third time the other day, but I would like to thank you for signing some of my books in Sunderland, might I suggest a very good Waterstones shop in Middlesbrough for your next tour? First of all I was wondering why there's no index of people's names in the Saxon stories like there is in the Warlord chronicles? Some names are similar to each other and it was made much easier in the Arthur tales by flicking to the front.

I was also wondering is there a difference to the bow Eofer carried to what Thomas of Hookton & co would have used?

In regards to Lords of the North Country, now that Ragnar the younger is once again prisoner, is there a chance he will join Alfred? It would bring down barriers for his and Uhtred's campaign to topple Kjartan and Sven....

Last of all it seems to me that the historical notes are getting shorter in your novels. I don't know if this is down the publishers but I particularly enjoy them and see no need for them to be shortened! Thanks for your time, James Trethowan.

A

Mainly because so many people complained about the list in the Warlord Chroonicles - they suggested that it made the book look too complicated! I think it's a good idea, and perhaps we'll risk it in some later editions.

None at all, really. The classic yew longbow has a history in Britain going back to at least 2000 BC (discovered in a grave in Yorkshire). Thomas's bow would have been made of better yew (imported from Italy or Spain), but the native yew still made a very powerful weapon. Why was it not used more often? Simply because of the immense difficulty of mastering the longbow - you needed to be immensely strong, and had to learn to aim without looking down the arrow's shaft (because you drew it to your ear). I reckon it took ten years to make an archer.

Wait and see! All I'll tell you is that Ragnar doesn't join Alfred, but as for the rest?

I think they're probably as long as they need to be! And it all rather depends on the novel. In the new book (Lords of the North) it is short, mainly because there isn't much to say, but I'm not deliberately shortening them. I'm writing a Sharpe at the moment and I suspect that note will have to be quite long to put the tale into its context.


Q

Hi Bernard, I just wanted to check that you're still intending to cover Athelstan and Brunanburgh in the Saxon stories. If so, would you anticipate Brunanburgh will be close to the end of the series, or do you intend to cover an even longer period? Can I also take this opportunity to thank you for the recommendation of Quartered Safe Out Here. What an outstanding book; I must check out the Flashman series. Regards Gregory Spawton

A

It will all take place in Uhtred's lifetime and, by living a long time, he could just about witness Brunanburgh (can't imagine he'd be fighting there, not unless he's in a walker). So I aim to finish the series at the time of Brunanburgh.


Q

Do you plan on bringing back the character of Ryder Sandman in the future?
Frank Schnell

A

It's possible - but not likely to be any time soon.


Q

I came across 'Sharpe' in 1989 when looking for a book to read on holiday. Loved the series but felt the plots became a little formulaic by the end! I think your best work is the 'Arthur trilogy', a simply superb series and probably my favourite books. But I have always felt the ending was somewhat abrupt, as if you had a publishing deadline to meet - I don't wish to seem rude, just curious. Was there any particular reason to end it so suddenly? Do you have any plans to visit the UK in the near future, your diary seems to list only US tours - I appreciate that's where you live. Phil Mobbs

A

There was no deadline. I think the ending is true to the legend, and that was the only consideration I had. I think the ending is dispiriting - but so it is in the legend and there really wasn't a way out!

I will be back in the UK in May of this year. Details will be posted to the Diary page once we get them.


Q

Mr. Cornwell -- Bravo for The Pale Horseman. A wonderful book. Uhtred is a wonderful character, very close to being an anti-hero in this volume. Here is a question that you may not be able to answer. In the next volume, will we see Kjartan, Thyra and Sven? I'm NOT asking to know whether Uhtred and Ragnar finally take their revenge, but I am curious to know whether we see them at all. Of course, I am quite eager to see Kjartan and his hell-spawn son get their just deserts, but I also know that revenge is best served cold. Again, I don't ask for spoilers, just whether these characters make an appearance. Thanks. Michael Newman

A

You will see them all!


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell, Thank you for the hours of reading pleasure. I am a huge Sharpe fan and am not so patiently awaiting the next instalment. I have observed that Sharpe becomes more cantankerous as time goes on, not chronologically, but in regards to the respective publishing dates. Is this something you have noticed? The most recent book particularly, when for the first time Sharpe tries to kill a perfectly innocent person who's only fault seems to be is that Sharpe finds him extremely irritable.

I enjoy all your work but Stonehenge stands legions above all others in my esteem. I have never read a book that was so engrossing. You once said it was 'blue murder' to write but it was certainly well worth the effort. I picture you sitting in front of the fire with a dog at your feet, a Baker rifle over the mantle, writing away with a pen and ink occasionally sipping a brandy while you write Sharpe's latest adventure. I'm sure that I'm off my mark but I am very curious on where and how you write your literature. Sitting at a desk in a bright office pounding away on a laptop? Kindest Regards, Joe

A

He does behave appallingly badly, I agree. I try to control him, but he does his own thing. I think he is getting more cantankerous - probably because I know him better now.

Sipping brandy!!! I will tell you the only absolute truth I know about writing - alcohol makes it impossible. I'll take an Irish whiskey or two at day's end, but never during the working day! I write in a large 'office' which is really a library with stacks of books, have a long, long desk which is littered with research, use a Gateway computer with, lucky me, a very big screen - each line of text is thirteen inches wide and I have 22 lines visible at a time.


Q

Hey Mr. Cornwell, long time fan. Was wondering (as everyone is) if you'll get back to the Starbuck series. I probably already know the answer to that though, "after Sharpe". Now I hope you get back to it soon because it's been a decade since I first picked up a copy of that series. Now I love both series equally (the edge goes to Sharpe because of Patrick Harper and Sharpe's chemistry) so don't stop Sharpe either! Maybe alternate year to year! But this is a question about Sharpe's historical period in general. If you were a Regimental commander in Wellingtons army which nationality would you choose to fill your battalions with? English, Welsh, Scotish, or Irish? I would choose Irish because that is where my grandad and grandmother were from! Plus I'm a fan of the 88th. Well thanks again for your wonderful novels, Mark

A

I'd take them all! But if I had to have just one regiment to defend me I'd take the Connaught Rangers


Q

Hi Thank you for the Sharpe and Starbuck series of books. They are fantastic! You have have said several times that you'll write some more Starbuck books when Sharpe is finished. Has that time arrived? Can we expect and hope for a another Sharpe or Starbuck book soon? All the best, Simon

A

A new Sharpe in the autumn.


Q

I love the Sharpe books however Starbuck is by far my favourite. Do you plan on visiting Wales in the near future to do any book signings? if so when and where? Great site. Diolch yn fawr. (that's thanks a lot). DAFYDD THOMAS

A

I don't right now, but maybe in the future?


Q

Sir: I have enjoyed all your books, but I especially like the new series about Alfred the Great. By chance ... have you seen the treatment of Alfred and his family (barely disguised) in Guy Guveral Kay's latest Book, "Last Light of the Sun"? I enjoy Mr. Kay's books as well and if you have not seen it, you might find it interesting. It is a fantasy treatment of the Saxon, Welsh, Irish and Norse civilizations at that time and is quite nice reading, if you like that sort of thing (which I do). I would appreciate your thoughts if you have read the book. Charles E. Mullins

A

I haven't seen it - but I'm about to go on vacation, lucky me, so it sounds like good holiday reading!


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