Your Questions

Q

Mr Cornwell First of all I would like to say thank you for all the wonderful books you've wrote. I have really enjoyed so many of them. I am currently onto The Lords of the North which is set nearby my home town. I am loving this series. My question is, how do you research your novels? Is it done online, with books and do you visit all the places you write about? Thanks again!
Gary Agnew

A

Books and visits - not online.


Q

Dear sir, At first, thank you. The story of Uhtred is a truly fascinating one and a feast for me as an Asatru. I am a Dane by blood and glad that we aren't forgotten in literature. Second, perhaps you could help me with finding the answer to a longtime question. As it is still a custom in our family, silver armrings are still given to a member of the family when he has achieved something good, on his own strength. But my grandfather died with one secret to take with him. The way of wearing those armrings. Do you, by any chance, know how they were worn? Upper-arm or under-arm? The truth is that i ask this question with shame in heart, but I do hope that you have the answer. Looking forward for your answer, Elivagar (My apologies for my terrible English)

A

I'm inclined to answer both! I'm as ashamed as you that I'm not entirely sure of the answer!


Q

This is a silly suggestion - but could you use a character (probably in Sharpe) known to the French as "Le Martinet/La Martinette"? It has a triple meaning: the swift (bird), a kind of scourge, and a person who is very particular about etiquette. Just a thought. Jen

A

A thought that is duly noted! Thank you!


Q

Firstly, we have enjoyed all your books especially the Starbuck, Thomas,Derfel and Uhtred series, and have just discovered Redcoat which I have now started, and wonder when you did your research for Azincourt, where did you stay - we are ask this because we have a house close to the village of Azincourt. Also was there anywhere else in the area that you obtained your information about the battle. Looking forward to seeing you in Chelmsford in March. John Sparkes

A

I stayed in a delicious hotel in a nearby town and I have completely forgotten the name of both!


Q

I probably am not the first person to ask this--but the one author of historical fiction I prefer to you is George MacDonald Fraser, the author of the Flashman series, who sadly passed away on January 2nd. Two questions. Did you know Mr. Fraser at all? Second, you shared the same publisher. If they asked you to write new books featuring Harry Flashman, would you consider doing so?
Jim Dickey

A

I did know George, liked him a great deal and was very saddened by his death. The publishers won't ask me! I couldn't write Flashman, anyway! That needed George!


Q

Bernard, Your books have been a great enjoyment for me. They have also left me with a number of questions, and so, having just finished the Last Kingdom, I will pose a few of these. First, I notice you include the Yule service, and as part of it the blot, which was the scene where the prisoner and animals were sacrificed. You did not include the Sumbel, I noticed, which by my understanding is an equally important part of the ritual, and I was wondering if there was a reason for this. I know almost all of Norse celebrations are some manifestation of the Sumbel, but as some one who celebrates Yule today I was curious on your reason for this as an author.

Secondly, you reference the removable dragon heads a lot. Is there evidence of the prows being removable, as from what I have read in the sagas, all ships had such prows, but my understanding of the ships we've found is that none we have recovered today have had such prows. Is there any documentation of these removable dragon-prows?

Third, you use the name Snorri for more than one minor character. Is this a reference to Snorri Sturluson, who came years after? And is the name Ragnar a tribute to Ragnar, the father of Ubba, Ivar, and Halfdan? Or did you have some other reason for choosing the names?

Fourthly, you describe the fighting of the Norse in the shield wall. You compare it to Roman fighting, but I have found a very hard time of finding accounts of battle outside the sagas that are consistent, and many external of the sources I have contradict the sagas. How much is really known about the combat styles of the time, and their applications of the weapons?

Fifthly, and yes, I know this is a lot of questions, and some are based on your opinions as a writer, so I am sorry, but I come to an end with this last one. So, fifthly, you describe thegns as men who had land and could command troops but were not nobility. I know the word thegn means "servant" in Norse, and was wondering how the translation applied to them being commanders and leaders of men, but having no rank of their own. Thanks, and sorry for dragging out the questions. Your books have given me great pleasure, and your characters may be the best of any historical fiction I've ever read. Keep writing, and thanks for all, Theo

A

I guess concision is the answer? And saving some things for later books . . . . it's all about what you leave out, sadly.

My reference books say they were removable, so that's good enough for me!

Just a coincidence, I think, or carelessness.

We know a great deal! And happily for me there are a number of good books dealing with the subject . . .

I'm using the old English word . . . distinct from the Scottish thane (which I suspect has Nordic roots). Thegn was a rank between ealdorman and earl, but I suspect it's definition was fairly elastic. It's possible it means a man who held land by virtue of military service, though I suspect that's a redaction.


Q

Dear Bernard, After looking at your diary and seeing you will be only in the southeast I was wondering if you will ever do any appearances in Chester at all????

In regards to the Sharpe series one story I was wondering if you ever write about the siege of Burgos and Wellington's (And Sharpe too I guess) one real defeat in Spain whether you would get Major Dulong there since he is the one guy who could give Sharpe a kicking and have it believable (besides you do kind of owe him for getting beaten in Havoc).

In regards to the viking novels any chance of Uhtred going north and helping his brother in law Guhtred fight off the major scottish invasion at the time??? Yours sincerely Tony

btw I can recommend both Donald Hickeys Don't give up the ship the myths of the war of 1812 if you have not read it it has a fine comparison piece between the merits of the various British and American rifles of the time.AND Fix bayonets and charge by Donald Graves which has a great account of Albuera in it both excellent reads. Tony

A

Don't know where I'll be! Keep an eye on the Diary page though.

It's all a possibility . . . . I think Wellington's failure at Burgos is worth a novel, though I can't say for certain I'll write it.

There's every chance of him going north! Not sure of the spcifics yet . . . .

Thank you for that!


Q

Hello Mr Cornwell, I look forward to getting Sword Song in Hardback from the U.K. because it cannot be found in Toronto . Do you ever talk to the publishers about this?

In your new book about Agincourt will you have the lists of men at Agincourt, that King Henry sent to England, listed in your book? It would be a nice touch. I do look forward to this book as well. Regards Nicholas.

A

Well, Sword Song was released in Canada in September 2007 so you certainly should be able to get it in Toronto. Perhaps you should try a different bookshop?

I really doubt it! But you can find the list printed in Anne Curry's very good book on the battle called, naturally, Agincourt.


Q

Sir, i've heard that you are writing a new book about the battle of Agincourt, is that right? if so, I'm eager to read it! When is it going to come out? best regards, Jack JIang

A

Yes, that is right. We are hoping for publication in October.


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell, let me first tell you that I am really keen on your books concerning Uhtred of Bebbanburg. When I a few weeks ago finished the third one in German I just could not wait for the fourth. I decided to buy it in English and - it was a pretty good experience for me - I understood it and had the same fun. Now I am waiting again, but for the fifth part of the story. Do you have any idea when you will finish the next book? How long do I have to wait? I would be most grateful for an answer. Best regards Yours sincerely Jan-Christian Schwarz

My 93 year old father and I, as well as the rest of the males in our family, follow all your book series. Of particular interest are the Saxon Stories. We even purchased Sword Song from an English source for my father. We all assume there will be one more book in the series. Do you have any idea when it will be released? Thank you for your attention to our inquiry. Frans Weterrings

A

I'm glad to know you enjoy the books - whether in German or English! I haven't started the fifth book of the Saxon stories yet, and won't for awhile so I'm afraid there will be a bit of a wait. And it won't be the last book of the series - there will be more.