Your Questions


Mr. Cornwell,

I really enjoy your books, especially the Thomas of Hookton and Warrior Chronicles series.  Three things to ask:
1) Any chance a TV show/series will be made about Thomas?
2) Have you thought about sponsoring some type of tour of the French battlefields/areas detailed in the Thomas of Hookton books?  I know you did your research there, but as I read the books, I have a desire to tour those areas, especially with an author, and listen to and discuss how historical fiction novels are conceptualized and written.
3) Were you asked to participate in, or were you consulted, during the filming of the TV series "Vikings"?  I keep expecting Uhtred to show up; perhaps next season?
Thank you!

Matt Shaner
Houston, Tx.


1). No plans for a tv programme as far as I know.


2).  I don't plan to host a tour of the battlefields but perhaps they are groups that do that?


3).  No, I wasn't asked.


I have just finished reading 1356, (FANTASTIC) could not put it down.
I have read most of the Sharp Series, all of the Warlord Chronicles and the Grail Quest series, Azincourt, Stonehenge, Gallows Thief, A Crowning Mercy and Fallen Angels all very good reads, but will there be any more of Thomas of Hookton?
Terry Collins


Dear Mr Cornwell
I have just finished reading 1356.  Excellent storytelling, characters and, as ever, a compelling read.
The main character, Thomas of Hookton, is I assume the self same Thomas from the Gail Quest series (Also excellent; I am sure that you must get bored with all the compliments).  Will you be writing a prequel to 1356 to bring us fans of Thomas up to speed on the intervening years from the end of Heretic to the start of 1356?
If one is not planned might I ask you to consider this?
Can I end with a final compliment.  Loved the Starbuck Chronicles.  I have first editions of these and will one day send them to you (WITH return postage) and ask you to sign these.
Best wishes
Simon Galea


I don't have plans to return to Thomas, but never say never!


I am doing some research for who was allowed to read during the middle ages and I am having trouble finding resources.  If you could give me some ideas I would appreciate it.
Stephen Baker


I imagine everyone was allowed to read, the problem being that only a few could read. I’ve never heard of there being a ban on reading! But education was sparse, and books even sparser, so on the whole reading was confined to the church and to the privileged . . . quite how a child born to the peasantry would ever have a chance of learning to read is problematical, but such a child might have a friendly priest? But so far as I know there’s no restriction, just lack of opportunity.


Dear Bernard,

First of all I am looking forward with great expectations to your new book The Pagan Lord, I hope, and indeed fully expect, it to live up to be an amazing tale. Based on your previous books am sure this will be the case anyway, no doubt.
However I was curious as to how far into the future Uhtred will live, I always presumed that when the lords of Bebbanburg submitted to Athelstan, that would be when Uhtred would gain Bebbanburg back, and I also presumed he would have some kind of hand in the battle of Brunanburh as well before he died. I was sure this would be the case however when I looked at the brief description of your new book it lets us know that Uhtred would be going home to try and capture Bebbanburg, so I was slightly confused, however I am sure that I will find out when I read it.
However this got me thinking, that as Uhtred has to die at some point, then would that be where the Saxon Stories would end. I was curious because I would love to read your take on events after this time, for example the invasion of Cnut the Great. Possibly leading up to all the way up to the Battle of Hastings and the norman invasion. This would be my absolute dream. To have a series written all the way through from Alfred to William 1 would be fantastic, particularly if it was written by an author such as yourself. I do realise that you probably have other books you wish to write as well, and a complete novelisation of the years form Alfred to William would take an enormous amount of time, however I was simply curious about if you had thought that far into the future.
There is also one more thing I would like to ask you about, you said in your books that you treat Athelred a bit unfairly. I thought this the first time I read them, Athelred as far as I knew he was an effective ruler who worked well with Alfred and Edward. So I was curious as to why you have depicted Athelred in this way, was is to create animosity between him and Uhtred, or possibly to give Athelflaed an obvious reason to grow close Uhtred over time.

Kind Regards, and thanks for all the reading pleasure.


I haven’t thought beyond Uhtred’s lifetime! The basic story of the Uhtred books is the making of England, and that’s a big enough topic . . what happens after is worth telling, but whether I’ll have the time? I don’t know.


I think the latter, probably – though I’d mistreated him from the very first book (when Aethelflaed wasn’t around). I don’t know, sometimes a character just goes sour and I let it happen, though I’ll happily admit the unfairness!


Hi Bernard

Firstly I would just like to say I'm a huge fan of your books, especially the Saxon Stories, and cannot wait to delve into Uhtred's next adventure.

I've noticed that you seem to utilise a simpler syntactic structure in the Saxon Stories than you do in your other work, with shorter, more succinct sentences. I've often wondered whether this is a conscious decision to emulate the Old English language, especially as the story is written from Uhtred's perspective in the first-person?

Also, I wondered whether you watched Michael Wood's excellent series on King Alfred and the Anglo Saxons? I believe one of Uhtred's descendants got a mention as the Earl of Northumbria during Athelstan's reign!




I can’t say it’s deliberate, but I do have Anglo-Saxon constructions loitering at the back of my mind when I write the Uhtred books, so I guess you’re right and it shows? Thank you!


No, I haven't seen it.


I realize we have progressed a long way since a noted Canadian novelist said,"I've finished except for the O.S.S." He explained that meant Obligatory Sex Scene. However, I noticed more attention was paid to the details of slashing and hacking than Sex. Frida produced a dead baby almost as an afterthought and Mildrid became pregnant almost like the Virgin Mary. Why the reticence?
Paul Jones


Reticence? I’m not reticent, I just don’t see the need for graphic or even mild sex scenes!  Far from being obligatory they should only happen if they advance the story, and I make the generous assumption that the vast majority of my readers know all about sex but maybe not a lot about shield walls?


Dear Mr Cornwell,

Love your books. Read the Grail Quest three and all the Sharpes, and now swimming through Uhtred's stories. (I think he's my favorite of your protagonists, but that might be memory's trick.)

I do think you're a bit unfair to Christianity in your works. For every good churchman, you show us twenty bad ones. That goes along with fashionable culture as far back as Somerset Maugham's story about the priggish southseas missionary in The Hills of Kansas, and probably earlier. (Hollywood hasn't portrayed a kindly churchman since The Bells of St. Mary's!) Still, I wish you'd fight the fashion once in a while.

The Ten Commandments were a wonderful step forward for civilization. "Thou shalt not do murder" meant murdering ANYONE. Laws against murder before that were only constrained to one's own tribesmen. Uhtred chooses Wessex because he knows he'll always be a second-class citizen under the Danes, but also because of law, doesn't he? He sneers at Alfred's perpetual lawmaking later in the series, but he chose Wessex for order over the constant viking and chaos of the Danelaw.

Yes, the Christians themselves were often weak and sinful. The reason Ragnar takes it to the monks on Lindisfarena is a good reason. A good Cleric would have condemned them, too! (A pity one didn't pop up just then.)

But they're your books, they're great reads, and I'll continue to buy them.

The scene in Alban's church with Aethelflaed forced to drink dirty water was gripping - I loved Uhtred when he protected her dignity! (And when he threatened Aethelred and pummeled his bullying advisor.) Far-fetched that that bishop would dare strip Alfred's daughter, though! I was waiting for Alfred to get wind of it and replace him with Asser, but alas...

Your historical note on the fictional incident was bad. Sorry, it was bad.

Evangelical Atheists (their reason for being only that misery loves company) love to point to "cruel" injunctions in the Old Testament. Many of these were reforms of actual cruelties in society at the time. "An eye for an eye" sounds cruel today, but what to do with an eye-gouging boy? Too often the answer then was to torture him and his whole family to death.

A suspected adultress made to drink dirty water? And if her thighs and belly swell immediately, she's guilty? I'll bet lots of wives used that to escape beatings and murder. "Bring some dirty water, I'll prove my virtue!" Doesn't sound cruel to me, Mr Cornwell.

Thanks for hours and hours of entertainment!

Yours very truly,


Unfair? Well, why not? The church was an extremely corrupt organization, and that wasn’t entirely its own fault, it was the only route that a person of low-birth could rise to the top of the hierarchy, so naturally it attracted the unscrupulous, the ambitious and the ruthless. As for the ten commandments, well they were hardly the first law code to condemn killing or theft, and as for all that nonsense about coveting and taking names in vain? A step forward? We’ll have to disagree! But I’m glad you noticed I do have some good clerics and nuns, and their goodness shines in an evil world!


Dear Mr. Cornwell,

First let me start by saying how much I enjoyed reading your book, The Fort. Your blending of fact with fiction is so much more interesting to read, and you do it well. I must say, I was lost a few times regarding the nautical references. When  you would refer to all of the various parts of a ship with all of its many sails and such, combined with the sailor's jargon and military references, I felt like I got a crash course on basic seamanship! Haha!  I have a question for you if you don't mind my asking? What happens to James and Bethany Fletcher? I absolutely loved the historical notes at the end, in which you tell what happened to the most famous soldiers/seamen  (Saltonstall, Lovell, Wadsworth, Revere, etc.) but you didn't mention what happened to the Fletchers.  Historically, how did that work out for the rebels who lived in a place like Majabigwaduce, when the British would "win"?  I guess my romantic side was hoping for a bit of a love story mixed in there
somewhere too, possibly between Bethany and Lt. Moore, but I just feel like there wasn't a resolution for the characters who weren't soldiers in the there a sequel that I need to read? Well, I apologize, I'm rambling on, and I see that there is more than one question I've asked of you. I thank you very much for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing your answer.


Angela Sgro,

Tyrone, Pennsylvania, USA


To be honest I don’t know what happened to them!  I suspect they lived happily ever after, but how? Where? With whom? All questions that died on me when the book was finished.  In my mind James would have joined the fight, and Bethany? I don’t know, and sorry, there won’t be a sequel.


Dear Mr. Cornwell

I realized that in one of you replies you mentioned you were back at Waterloo. I don't know whether you meant it literally or not, but if you are actually in Belgium, are you doing any appearance at a book shop or lectures?

Thank you for your time


No, no, I am not in Belgium except in my mind (and on the computer!).



Having just finished the reading of your novel about the famous battle of POITIERS (which is of course, and as you know, one among several battles in this area), I want to write, unfortunately, the great displeasure I had to get through of it.

If I shall not criticize the writing and its achievement, which are undoubtedly extremely well minded, I didn't like the general sense of it and, even if I am alone to write it, I am convinced I must do it.

Why? My expectations were great (I missed to buy the book in PARIS and, finally, after weeks waiting, found it in BORDEAUX) and I read in it a whole charge (if I may say so...) against the french people and its history, in a pathetical moment.

Be sure I take no pride at all of my citizenship, and I am not the last to criticize them, but why all the French (except of course a traitor...) are all integrist, cruel, keen on wine and women?
On the other hand, the British who are alone, as everyone know, to possess the sense of humour, are always brave, pitiful, gallant, even heroic and, as a result, they are always and always winners...
You have, of course absolutely the right to have your own sense of history, but you do not insist very much about the betrayal of the french king, who battled fearless, and, generally, your descriptions are one-sized.

Shall I add, in order o regret it, that your battle scenes are quite sadistic?

For me, alone in your book, will stay your exact and clever evocation of Charles, the
dauphin, who revealed to be one our greatest king (even, at my opinion, one of the worst on an ethical point of view).

With my best regards,

Frédéric Charles


I’m sorry you feel that – but I hoped I was generous in my treatment of the Dauphin (one of the few sensible people at Poitiers), and what’s wrong with being fond of wine and women? We should all be so lucky!