Bernard Cornwell and the Warlord Chronicles

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Bernard Cornwell and the Warlord Chronicles

Postby Orunien » Mon Aug 23, 2004 10:27 am

Has anyone else read Bernard Cornwell's excellent Arthurian saga, The Warlord Chronicles? What do you think of it as a reading of the legend and as a series in general? I haven't read many of his books (these ones and the quite good Stonhenge) but he seems an excellent writer. What are other thoughts on him and the Chronicles?
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Postby Leoba » Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:02 am

I thought they were the most accessible rendition of the Arthur myth I have read. His best books IMHO are the Sharpe series. If you haven't read them, go borrow them from the library or splash out at your local bookshop right away! :)


There are already some threads floating round about this author if you delve:

a novel of Arthur: The Winter King

The Winter King. Opinions?

Sharpe
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Postby Orunien » Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:50 am

Thanks Leoba - I did a search on Bernard Cornwell and nothing came up, so I assumed that there was nothing out there. And i will definitely check out the Sharpe series.
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Postby Angren » Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:31 pm

Throughly recommend the 'Warlord series' - particularly like the depicition of Lancelot as a complete bunnyslipper. Probably the best Arthurian retelling I've read in years.

Looking forward to 'The Last Kingdom' set during the reign of Alfred the Great.
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Postby Angren » Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:33 pm

Please note that bunnyslipper was originally entered as something a bit stronger
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Postby Bolg » Mon Jul 02, 2007 10:29 am

This one seems like the best one to bump; there are 3 other threads listed within this one relating to Cornwell, posted ages ago, but the title of this one keeps it open for both Sharpe and other books...lets see if she stays afloat ! :D
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Postby tarathiel » Mon Jul 02, 2007 3:13 pm

We'll just have to give it a try.

So what's your verdict on the Sharpe books that you've read so far?
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Postby portia » Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:15 pm

I like the Sharpe series. I am interested in the Napoleonic Wars, which helps. However, it does seem that the ones I have read follow a definite pattern and they all seem to have a "plot device" woman. He seems to put them together alike, out of standard plot parts: "the battle"; "the problem with higher authority"; "the woman" and so on.

My favorite was "Sharpe's Trafalgar" as it combined Sharpe and sea battles. His description of the structure of the battle of Trafalgar was the best I have seen (in fiction).
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Postby Bolg » Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:24 am

tarathiel wrote:We'll just have to give it a try.
So what's your verdict on the Sharpe books that you've read so far?


I have enjoyed the Sharpe Stories tremendously , even reading them somewhat out of order. " Fortress " is my favorite thus far.

I was unaware of Cornwell's works and any type of historical fiction as of a year ago and then during mid-July I picked up 'The Pale Horseman' on a whim from my kids bookmobile.

At this time a old friend had just passed away and I had a pulled muscle in my neck and wasn't really in the mood for anything, let alone a new author.

Much to my suprise, I found myself instantly thrust into dark age Britain and was oddly consoled by this new style of writing, some of which was so brutal it was hard to believe at first. As I read more of his books, I realized that the explicit details of combat were just another facet of his knack for describing whatever particular scene was happening at the moment.

I suppose I am a Cornwell fan first, then a Sharpe fan, but the two are so close that they are nearly indistinguishable.

portia, I see a certain pattern in his books, endless variations on a theme, I still find myself suprised at how situations get worked out, or how something falls into place later on in the story.

I have spent too much time on this post, I had it almost finished and then hit some button on my keyboard and it sent me back to the previous page. Gah ! :D
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Postby tarathiel » Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:04 am

Hi Portia.

I know the books can follow a bit of a 'plot formula' but then the same could be said of most successful series; Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan, Rowling and Harry Potter to give two examples.

It wasn't till Cornwell got to the 'filling in the gaps' stage that this started to annoy me abit, but i still love the books and have read almost all of them.
I think the only one i havn't read yet is Havoc.

I like the depth of historical acuracy that Cornwell uses, particularly the Historical notes at the end of the book.
I have read a few factual books about the Napoleonic wars and the lives of the soldiers, originally from the Cavalry point of view but later from other perspectives, and i love the graphic descriptions of the things that the more 'death and glory' type of historical account tends to leave out.

Having seen and fired a black powder weapon, although it was a much later design than the brown bess musket and even the baker rifle, i can only imagine the skill it would have taken to load them quickly enough to fire four rounds a minute, as Sharpe so graphically describes.

Are you reading any at the moment Bolg?

Tar
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Postby Claymore » Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:39 am

I've read but two of Cornwell's books but I liked them a lot.
I've read Harlequin and 'The Last Kingdom'.
Harlequin was good but I liked 'The Last Kingdom' better.
I love the cynical first-person mode he uses in that book.
Uthred is cynical b*stard with few morals and wavering loyalties and he's very crude.
That's a change from the usual noble main characters I've seen in historical novels.
Last edited by Claymore on Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Bolg » Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:15 am

Current Sharpe book for me is 'Triumph', which got the blood going right off the bat. I'll bet those types of firearms kick like a mule. The only military rifles I have fired were the relatively small caliber 5.56 and 7.62mm respectively, nothing to write home about.

Hello Claymore, you have to read the other books in those series. 3 in each, I believe. If you liked the Saxon Chronicles, you would enjoy the Warlord Chronicles as well. ( which, to date, Cornwell says are his favorites )

Everyone has their own preferences, but I would stick to a certain time period when reading his books; if I jump around too much I get pulled out of a certain 'mood', if you know what I mean.
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Postby portia » Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:32 am

tarathiel wrote:

[snip]
Having seen and fired a black powder weapon, although it was a much later design than the brown bess musket and even the baker rifle, i can only imagine the skill it would have taken to load them quickly enough to fire four rounds a minute, as Sharpe so graphically describes.


Tar


I agree on black powder weapons. Mr. Portia is a member of a re-creation group of a French and Indian War British regiment. They used Brown Besses and we have a reproduction one. Re-loading once in 5 minutes is hard enough and then they are not very accurate. And they hang fire and they have flashes in the pan and people forget to take the ramrod out when they fire them, and, and, and.(!) And it is so much fun thinking about the cans of black powder in the garage. :shock:
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Postby Claymore » Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:25 pm

Hello Claymore, you have to read the other books in those series. 3 in each, I believe. If you liked the Saxon Chronicles, you would enjoy the Warlord Chronicles as well. ( which, to date, Cornwell says are his favorites )

I will as soon as I prod my father hard enough to buy them next time he goes to the UK.
They are impossible to find in English where I live and I thoroughly hate translations. :D
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Postby tarathiel » Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:06 pm

Hi Claymore.
I havn't read much Cornwell other than Sharpe. But i keep meaning to try the Warlord books.

Have you ever fired the Brown Bess Portia?
I only ever fired a fowling gun but it still took an age to load and created an amazing amount of smoke compared to a modern 12 bore. What surprised me is that the 12 bore actually has a much bigger kick when you fire it.
It's amazing how many common sayings date back to this particular period of history, and in particular the firing of a musket or other muzzle loader:
To go off half cocked.
Flash in the pan.
Squib or Damp squib.
Bite the bullet.

I really liked Triumph. It filled in a huge key gap in the story of Sharpe and his personal history.

I've just been given Sharpes Waterloo on DVD :)
I think i've seen most of them on TV but i know i havn't seen this one yet.
I'm looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the TV.

Tar
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Postby portia » Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:33 pm

tarathiel wrote:Hi Claymore.
I havn't read much Cornwell other than Sharpe. But i keep meaning to try the Warlord books.

Have you ever fired the Brown Bess Portia?
I only ever fired a fowling gun but it still took an age to load and created an amazing amount of smoke compared to a modern 12 bore. What surprised me is that the 12 bore actually has a much bigger kick when you fire it.
It's amazing how many common sayings date back to this particular period of history, and in particular the firing of a musket or other muzzle loader:
To go off half cocked.
Flash in the pan.
Squib or Damp squib.
Bite the bullet.

I really liked Triumph. It filled in a huge key gap in the story of Sharpe and his personal history.

I've just been given Sharpes Waterloo on DVD :)
I think i've seen most of them on TV but i know i havn't seen this one yet.
I'm looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the TV.

Tar


Yes, I have fired the Brown Bess. It had a kick, but less than I expected. We were firing at a target, and I have no idea where my 70 calibre ball went. :shock:

One time when our son fired it, there was a flash in the pan and his face was very red on that side the rest of the day. No permanent damage. When they hung fire, everyone treated them as if they could explode, which was not literally true, but they were unstable.

We also have 2 muzzle loading pistols. When they were new my husband took them to the range to test fire them. He loaded them very lightly. When he pulled trigger (with a string from 6 feet back) it fired properly, but the light load only propelled the ball about 3 feet from the end of the muzzle. I had the bad manners to laugh very loudly.
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Postby Claymore » Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:27 am

We also have 2 muzzle loading pistols. When they were new my husband took them to the range to test fire them. He loaded them very lightly. When he pulled trigger (with a string from 6 feet back)

WOw you don't take any risks, do you :shock: ?
Are these things so dangerous?
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Postby tarathiel » Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:59 am

Are your pistols replicas or original pieces Portia?
The gun i fired was an original piece. But it had been very well maintained and had been regularly re-proofed.
Did Mr Portia get the pistol to fire properly in the end?
Are they Flintlocks like the brown bess or are they a later design?

Claymore, the fact that an old muzzle loader has been fired so many times in its life means that there will inevitably be wear and tear on the barrel so it is important that the gun is properly checked out, or proofed.
Because you are dealing with actual gun powder and sparks means that there is more chance of an 'incident' than with a modern gun.
But that said, all firearms need to be handled with respect. I have a close friend who had a very close shave with a split barrel on a modern shot gun. Luckily he wasn't badly hurt but it could have been very serious.

I'd love to see a Volley gun like Harpers fired.
That must have been a fearsome weapon in the hands of someone strong and skilled enough to use it.

Tar
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Postby Claymore » Wed Jul 04, 2007 2:11 pm

tarathiel wrote:Claymore, the fact that an old muzzle loader has been fired so many times in its life means that there will inevitably be wear and tear on the barrel so it is important that the gun is properly checked out, or proofed.
Because you are dealing with actual gun powder and sparks means that there is more chance of an 'incident' than with a modern gun.
But that said, all firearms need to be handled with respect. I have a close friend who had a very close shave with a split barrel on a modern shot gun. Luckily he wasn't badly hurt but it could have been very serious.

You say it :D.
The only thing I fired that resembled a firearm was a bow. Without protection so I had a bruised fore-arm after it :D.
Fire-arms are absolutely forbidden where I live.
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Postby tarathiel » Wed Jul 04, 2007 2:47 pm

Claymore wrote: Fire-arms are absolutely forbidden where I live.


I thought from your name that you were a Scot.
Obviously not.
So where are you from? I've not heard of anywhere that has a blanket ban on firearms.

Tar
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Postby portia » Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:25 pm

The pistols were brand-new reproductions and they could have had manufacturing defects, so he was really careful. The re-creation group as a whole were very, very, careful of the firearms. After about 6 firings Mr. Portia worked up to full load of powder and they did well. It is hard to find a black powder range in SoCal, so we haven't fired them much, since.

However, I am a firm believer in the adage: "There is no such thing as an unloaded gun."

The group also owned a 1700s cannon that had the bore replaced with a modern bore. It was powerful and accurate. It lived in our garage for a while, out of sight of the neighbors, except when we took it out to go someplace. When we towed the cannon and its carriage on a trailer, the cannon pointed to the rear. A cover would not stay on at 60 mph so it travelled "bare." Our son, then a teenager, rigged up an LED light in the mouth, which lit up when the brake was depressed in the car. NO ONE tailgaited us. :shock:

Oh, well, there are a lot of good stories associated with that group. It is now mostly inactive. Too bad.

The Brown Bess is a reproduction. I am told it was built for a movie ([i]Barry Lyndon[/i]). It seems to be very good quality.
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Postby tarathiel » Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:17 pm

Portia you are spot on with the 'no such thing as an unloaded gun'

And i'd love to see pics of the cannon towed behind the car.
I'm not surprised you had no trouble with tailgaters :twisted:

Maybe we should take the black powder conversation somwhere else seeing as this is supposed to be a literary thread.
Any ideas?
Maybe a guild of musketeers?

On a sharpe note; I have now watched 'Waterloo'
Very good, well done and sad.
I will have to watch it again before i can come up with a better review.
I am now re-reading the book to compare.

Tar
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Postby Bolg » Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:38 pm

An old firearm discussion would be interesting, even from a spectator's point of view.

Does The Sharpe series air on The BBC channel ? ( I have yet to see it ) That's the only British station that I receive here in the U.S.

What is the transition from books to TV like for the first time ? Similar to LOTR on film, meaning you are so expectant to see a book you love in a live action format that you look past the faults ? Just curious here. :D
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Postby Claymore » Sat Jul 07, 2007 12:26 pm

tarathiel wrote:I thought from your name that you were a Scot.

Absolutely not, English isn't even my first language. :D
I'm living in the Netherlands right now and if you're a civil and you own a weapon without permission ( a permission that is not easily granted) you get in jail.
Owning a fire-arm without permission is a severe crime.
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Postby portia » Mon Jul 09, 2007 6:07 pm

I haven't started a thread in a while, so I think I will go to Talk with the Black Powder discussion.
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Postby Whirling_Dervish » Fri Jul 13, 2007 7:31 am

Saw the title of this thread and I couldn't resist dropping in! I am actually a relative newbie to Cornwell's novels, but I sure have enjoyed what I have read thus far. Has anyone read the Grail Quest trilogy? I just finished the last book about 30 minutes ago. I thought all three of them were quite good myself; especially the final book, Heretic. Thomas of Hookton is a much more approachable and likable character than say, Uhtred of the Saxon series (of which I have only read the first two books). Uhtred is a bit more abrasive and reckless, IMO.

Someone mentioned Stonehenge earlier. I still consider it to be Cornwell's finest achievement so far. I was totally consumed by that book and found it hard to put down. Yet, oddly enough among the blogosphere, some folks don't care for it much at all! I can't imagine why. Not enough mindless hack-and-slash violence in it I guess.

I haven't read any of the Sharpe series yet but plan to. So is one expected to start from the very first Sharpe novel before reading the others? Must they be read in cronological order? Or would it be okay to pick one of them at random to read first? Any suggestions? :)
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Postby Bolg » Fri Jul 13, 2007 7:52 am

I don't have a lot of time to answer everything in full, but hello, Whirling_Dervish. I liked the Grail Quest, but not as much as the Arthur books.

The Saxon stories were my baptism into Cornwell last summer.

Stonehenge was a very tough book for me to get through last fall, but it was not a bad story by any means, just not quite suited to my tastes.

If you read Sharpe, I would say start at the chronological beginning, although I have read a few out of order without much trouble.

Tarathiel is the resident Sharpe expert so far in this thread, I have only read 6 so far.
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Postby tarathiel » Sun Jul 22, 2007 2:14 pm

Bolg wrote:

Does The Sharpe series air on The BBC channel ? ( I have yet to see it ) That's the only British station that I receive here in the U.S.

What is the transition from books to TV like for the first time ? Similar to LOTR on film, meaning you are so expectant to see a book you love in a live action format that you look past the faults ? Just curious here. :D



I think Sharpe was originally on ITV but now it only shows up on UKTV Gold on cable/sat

The book/TV translation is a bit wierd because there is a lot of plot alterations.
The characters are pretty acurate and very well done but the storylines are a bit stretched.
One of the TV episodes isn't even based on a book at all!

Hi Whirling dervish, Bolg is absolutely right about the chronological issue, it helps but it's not essential.

Which book are you on now Bolg?
I've finished my waterloo re-read.

Tar
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Postby Bolg » Mon Jul 23, 2007 3:04 pm

Currently reading 'Tiger', and can now see why the feud between Sharpe and Hakeswill is so intense. I will probably re-read Triumph and then Fortress again.
I don't want to spoil anything for others so I'll put this in yellow-- I must admit when Col McCandless was murdered by Hakeswill I was profoundly feeling that loss; a credit to Cornwell's ability I suppose.

Tar, is Sharpe your # 1 series from Cornwell,or is it that period in history in general ? Anyway, till the next post... :wink:
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Postby tarathiel » Mon Jul 30, 2007 2:01 pm

Hi Bolg.

Yes Sharpe is my favorite Cornwell series, and i did start reading it because i have a fascination for that period of history.
I've tries to read some of Cornwells other stuff and not really got into it, i read the first of the Aurthurian series but lost the plot abit halfway through the second book.
I keep meaning to try the Gallows thief but havn't got around to it.

What started you reading Sharpe?
And have you read Sharpes Company or Enemy yet? Hakeswill at his most horrible.
The character of Hakeswill was really well portrayed in the TV series, Pete Posthelthwaite was perfect in the role.

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