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Bernard Cornwell - what should I read first?

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Showing 1-11 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 24, 2011 1:27:08 PM PDT
J. Marchant says:
I'm just getting into historical fiction. Which of his books would you suggest for an introduction to this author?

Posted on Mar 24, 2011 2:12:13 PM PDT
Sharpe's Tiger would be good start.....just finished this book the other day ....nice read.....i will for sure continue the Richard Sharpe series

Posted on Mar 24, 2011 5:50:35 PM PDT
It might depend on what historical era interests you. For Civil War buffs, I heartily recommend the Starbuck series. He has another series set in the middle ages (The Archer's Tale (The Grail Quest, #1)), a third in Arthurian times (The Winter King (The Arthur Books, #1) and another in Saxon England (The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)), not to mention several good standalones. The Sharpe series is quite good, if a bit repetitive.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2011 6:42:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 24, 2011 7:26:10 PM PDT
>Which of (Bernard Cornwell's) books would you suggest for an introduction to this author?

He has several series, all are good.

I would begin with the Sharpe series. The main historical character is Arthur Wellesley, the guy that later became the Duke of Wellington and defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. But Waterloo is at the end of the series. I'd begin with Sharpe's Tiger and then read them in chronological order (not in the order they were first published). That's what I did. They cover Wellesley's military career from about 1794 through Waterloo in 1815, with a couple of extra books added after Waterloo.
Sharpe's Tiger (1)
Sharpe's Triumph (2)
Sharpe's Fortress (3)
Sharpe's Trafalgar (4)
Sharpe's Prey (5)
Sharpe's Rifles (6)
Sharpe's Havoc (7)
Sharpe's Eagle (8)
Sharpe's Gold (9)
Sharpe's Escape (10)
Sharpe's Fury (11)
Sharpe's Battle (12)
Sharpe's Company (13)
Sharpe's Sword (14)
Sharpe's Enemy (15)
Sharpe's Honour (16)
Sharpe's Regiment (17)
Sharpe's Siege (18)
Sharpe's Revenge (19)
Sharpe's Waterloo (20)

When you finish reading all the books in the series, you might want to use inter-library loan or some such and check out the TV series on DVD. I know my local library has all of the DVDs - 18??? (because I paid over $200 for the matched set from Amazon, and then after I (and a few friends) finished viewing all the DVDs, I donated the set to the library.

The TV series was produced by the British/BBC equivalent of our PBS, but they did an excellent job and followed the books very closely. And of course, Sharp was a British soldier, and the guy that played Sharp in the TV series had an excellent British accent. :)
Sharpe's Complete Collection

Posted on Mar 25, 2011 6:29:48 AM PDT
Joe Hohmann says:
I read all the Sharpe's books, in order, and enjoyed every one...same with the Starbuck series. I could not "get into" Stonehenge or the Arthur books, but enjoyed some of his other ones.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 25, 2011 9:08:03 PM PDT
A. McGrath says:
Wellington was ONE of the victors of Waterloo. The other was the Prussian Field Marshal von Blucher. No Prussians, no victory at Waterloo. :-)

As for which Cornwell it depends on what period of history you like. Read each series chronologically, not in the date they were published though. He tends to go back and fill in gaps, at least with Sharpe.

Anyway, I also recommend the Sharpe TV series. Don't buy it on Amazon U.S. though. WAY too expensive. I bought a region free DVD player from Amazon US for about $35, then bought the complete series new from Amazon UK for $30 including shipping to the U.S. Saved about $170!

Posted on Mar 26, 2011 4:58:50 AM PDT
W. Sparrow says:
It really depends on what time period you prefer. As Eric mentioned, the Grail Quest series (The Archer's Tale (The Grail Quest, Book 1) is a good start if you like late medieval. For Dark Ages/early medieval, go with the Saxon Chronicles (The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Chronicles Series #1). Those are my absolute favorite.

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 10:16:42 AM PDT
Rob Walker says:
The Sharps series as listed above by is one of my all time favorite historical fiction series, so well researched yet rich in story and character. Loved Sharp so much made on of my characters in my series a direct descendant! HA. I am given to understand too that Sharp is Stephen King's favorite reading for pleasure! Who'd a thunk it. My own other favorite is John Jakes. Love is work.

Rob Walker
Titanic 2012 - a generational historical horror science fiction
Children of Salem - historical fiction
City for Ransom, Shadows in White City, City of the Absent - an historical trilogy

Posted on Apr 7, 2011 5:59:27 AM PDT
Train says:
I "listened" to Stonehedge on an audio book and fully enjoyed it. It seemed lenghty, but was well worth it. My favorite is probably the Starbuck Chronicles, as it is set in the Cicil war. Like the Saxon series, the theme seems to be conflicting loyalities by the main character, which makes for interesting conflicts.
I have never read any of the Sharpe books, but they are on my to do list

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2011 10:11:40 PM PDT
Selene says:
As G Brickson says, it really depends what historical period you find most appealing. I've read everything BC has written, including his "modern" thrillers, and my favourites are the "Saxon Chronicles" (Saxons v. Vikings during the reign of King Alfred the Great) and the "Harlequin" series (set during the Hundred Years War) I started off many years ago with the "Sharpe" books which I'm still fond of, though I think later books in the series are getting rather perfunctory- I feel that Cornwell has moved on, but Sharpe fans haven't and keep asking for more! An interesting bit of trivia is that Sharpe was inspired by C S Forester's "Death to the French" aka "Rifleman Dodd", and Cornwell pays homage with Rifleman Matthew Dodd as a character in "Sharpe's Escape".

Bernard Cornwell has an excellent website where you can find out more about his novels and series listings:

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2011 7:54:46 AM PST
gary says:
Better still try the two book series `Viking Sword Saxon Shield' and `Vikings! Saxon Holocaust.' By Keith Scrivener. These are fast moving Historical thriller novels with a romantic thread. The main storyline is about a tenth century teenage warrior a young Saxon Princess and their adventures when Vikings attack. They are based around real historical battles of that period its no stop action. Viking! Saxon Holocaust Viking Sword Saxon Shield
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Discussion in:  Historical Fiction forum
Participants:  11
Total posts:  11
Initial post:  Mar 24, 2011
Latest post:  Dec 14, 2011

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