Your Questions

Q

Hi Bernard, Have just finished Sharpe's Regiment as part of a full tour through the series. Must say I really liked it. It was a nice interlude to the activities in Spain/France. But I didn't quite get the ending. I can't figure why in Fenner's office and with the ledgers and the Dowager by his side Sharpe did not strike a harder bargain. Why did he not demand the lieutenant-colonelcy of the regiment rather than insisting on Girdwood going to Spain? It can't be that Sharpe didn't see the opportunity. He looked after Lawford and Girdwood was ready to resign. Why did he not seize the moment and return to Spain as lieutenant-colonel himself? Kind Regards Willie

A

I don't remember, to be honest. I think (I wrote the book long ago, and it's a hazy recollection) that Sharpe wanted Girdwood in command because he was already planning his revenge. He's not a nice man.


Q

Hi Bernard.. I am a huge fan.. read most of your books in the last year or so.. cant believe I was unaware of you for so long..two quick questions: (1) Is there now or might there be an overlap between Sharpe and Moore and

(2) I live in Massachusetts and plan a visit to "The Fort" - wondering how much there is in the way of historical markers beyond the actual site of the Fort itself. Keep them coming. I have introduced you to 3 friends. All the best. John Smolenski

A

I doubt it, but I've learned never to say never!

There are a lot of historical markers all over Castine - the half Moon fort is marked, though not the seaman's redoubt. The American landing place ought to be marked, but isn't. It's easily discoverable - go to the light-house at the peninsula's western end and there's a footpath that leads down the bluff (it will amaze you that the American forces assaulted the bluff so successfully). It's really worth a visit!


Q

Dear Bernard, I'm travelling through Australia at the moment and have brought the Last Kingdom and the Pale horseman with me and have read them both already, I love them now as much as the 1st time I've read them. One thing that I keep wondering about is why Wessex's army/warriors seemed more formidable than the other English kingdoms? Wessex was never conquered, they resisted the vikings and won many battles such as Cynuit, Ethandun, Ashdown, Farham etc. whilst the other kingdoms fell much quicker. In your books and in the many documentaries I've seen it is stated that the Danes were better at warfare than the saxons and we learnt how to fight from them, but Wessex was strong enough to resist and eventually conquer the northern kingdom's and I'd love to know why?. thanks for your time. Ian Parkhouse

A

There are various reasons. First, I think, the Danes are quintessentially disorganised, so they rarely make a concerted and long-lasting effort. One defeat and their armies break up into their constituent parts and go looking for easier prey. Second, Wessex was farthest away and so had more time to prepare. The Danish invasion started in the north and worked south, so the west Saxons could see what was happening and had more time to ready themselves. Third, of course, is the intelligent response initiated by Alfred - the burh system. He didn't originate it, but copied it from continental Europe, but he applied it brilliantly. The Danes, being a light mobile force, were never equipped for sieges and the burh system stymied them totally. And, of course, though undoubtedly the Danes were considered better warriors at the beginning of their incursions, the Saxons learned fast and were certainly as good by the beginning of the tenth century.


Q

Hello Mr. Cornwell, I enjoy your Saxon series very much and look forward to the next book with great anticipation. In the meantime I am reading Agincourt. I have two quick questions. I am trying to envision the archers and I am unfamiliar with late medieval armor. What sort of helmet did you intend Nick Hook to don: the English bowl shaped helm, a form fitting skull cap, a conical helm with a nasal guard, or something else?

Also, how large is the livery he wears? I have looked this up online and I have seen depictions ranging from the Monty Python-esque to a small patch in the center of the chest. Thanks, Joe

A

It would have been a very simple bowl-shaped helm, nothing fancy at all, and almost certainly no nose-guard. I have a suspicion that many archers didn't wear them anyway, and it does seem likely that they discarded a lot of armour before the battle (to increase mobility). Anyway - their armour would have been very ad hoc, probably the cheapest available, and of dubious quality.

The illustrations I've seen show it to be fairly large, large enough to be visible at some distance. Say enough to cover the chest?


Q

I have been reading your books for some time now and love the way you blend history with real to life characters. I was wondering whether you had any plans for writing a series similar to the Sharpe's series but based in Imperial Rome, it would be a fascinating backdrop full of great history. Regards, Ian Bass

A

I don't; I'm happy to leave the Romans to others.


Q

Dear Sir, Just a quick question as I do not want to take too much of your time away from writing the books I enjoy so much. In the Saxon Stories is Serpents Breathe going to turn out to be the Bamburgh Sword? thanks in advance David

A

Oh, it can be if you want! I described Serpent-Breath before the sword was discovered - but I like the idea, so why not?


Q

Hi Mr. Cornwell, I recently read Sharpe's Battle, excellent as usual. Some questions, which you might not be able to answer as it has been awhile since you wrote it. I don't know if you remember me, still looking for a publisher for my Napoleonic series from the French perspective. Book 2 is nearly done! Anyway, I know it is fiction but you refer to French cuirassiers being at the battle of Fuentes de Onoro. I have been able to find no references to cuirassiers being at the battle. For most of the Peninsular War there were no cuirassiers in Spain except one regiment with Suchet in southern Spain. I'm not even sure if the British ever faced French cuirassiers except at Waterloo. You also mention the rifleman rate of march of 108 steps per minute (which the retreating 7th Division was using) as being faster than the French and the standard British step but the French rate of march was 120 steps per minute. The French were noted for their mobility. I don’t think the 7th’s escape was due to steps per minute but a well done withdrawal. Wellington considered Fuentes de Onoro a draw and noted that if Napoleon had been there, he would have lost. (I would submit that would have occurred far more often if Napoleon had bothered going to Spain). I agree with him that it was a draw and wouldn't chalk it up as a victory. Also, the British did try and stop the French breakout from Almeida, they didn't sleep! Their pursuing forces were ambushed by troops from the French VI Corps.

I sense in your replies about Starbuck that he is more on your mind of late, and that he might be the next book after this Uhtred that is coming out in October. Am I reading too much into your words? PLEASE put him at the top of your list. Just think of the happy readers and how you would stop being pestered about it! One last thing. Do you know why the Sharpe TV series is so expensive in the U.S? $236 even on Amazon. I bought it brand new from the UK for less than $30 including shipping, then bought a region free DVD player and saved $170! Granted you don't get the letter opener and wooden box but that's not worth $170 extra, I'm afraid. I hope fans who've wanted to buy it but are put off by the cost take that route. Plus having the region free DVD player means you can play all kinds of DVDs from Europe unavailable here. (like the original Four Feathers from 1939) Sorry about the length of this missive. Art

A

I wrote the book so long ago that I don't remember it that well, and I couldn't tell you off the top of my head what my source was for the cuirassiers, or if I even had one. I'm not sure we'll ever agree about victory/defeat - the french aim was to resupply Almeida, and it failed, and that smells suspiciously like a defeat to me!

Sorry, I don't know anything about the pricing of the Sharpe films.


Q

Thank you for your rapid reply. Sorry my question got garbled. I was asking about Wasp's Sting, Uhtred's Seax. (I didn't know he gets an axe- hopefully Ubba's.) Is Wasp's Sting straight-backed and straight-or nearly straight-edged, with a point in line with the edge, in the later Viking/Saxon style? Maybe 18 inches or so long in the blade? I apologize for the confusion with my previous question.

Jeremy Start

A

That sounds about right! Definitely a symmetrical point as you describe.


Q

Bernard- Patrick Lassan's appearance in the Starbuck chronicles almost begs for a separate series on his adventures in the Crimean war. Have you, or are you considering this scenario at all? That would be a great treat for your readers I reckon. Cheers, SN

A

I've considered it, but I'm not sure if it will happen....


Q

Mr Cornwell, I don't know if it's possible to hear too much praise for your work, but here is one more for all of your novels, but most especially the Sharpe series. As an US army officer who rose from the ranks, they are especially poignant to me. Do you ever have plans to sell a hard cover anthology of the Sharpe novels? I'm not sure if this is something that you even have control over or if it is strictly up to the publisher(s). Although I own all of the novels (and novelas), they are all in different formats and it would be nice to have them in a collection. I'm sure that there are plenty of fans who would pony up the money for a nice set of hardcovers that have 3 or 4 novels in each, in historically correct chronological order. Thank you again for many hours of reading pleasure.

Frank Sanford

A

It is up to the publishers, and they won't consider it until the series is complete (that's still a ways away!).