WHY I LOVE BERNARD CORNWELL

WHY I LOVE BERNARD CORNWELL
Those of you who read my blogs or are my Facebook or Goodreads friends know how much I love Bernard Cornwell’s historical fiction.  Since he has a new novel out, The Flame Bearer, which may be his best one yet, I thought this would be a good time to discuss why I find his books so compelling.
In 2011, National Public Radio asked me to select the five best historical novels of that year and write an article in which I explained my choices.   I soon selected Margaret George’s Elizabeth I, Paula McClain’s The Paris Wife, Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing, and Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeeper.   The fifth book proved to be more of a challenge.  I was familiar, of course, with BC’s writing; I’d loved his Sharpe series, set during the Napoleonic Wars, and enjoyed his Grail Quest trilogy.  But somehow I’d not gotten around to reading any of the books in his Saxon series, possibly because I knew very little about this period in British history.   As it happened, he’d just published a new book in this series, Death of Kings, and I decided this was worth checking out.
My only concern was that Death of Kings was the sixth book in the series and I needed to be sure it could be read as a stand-alone, too.    I’ve often been down this particular road, doing a trilogy about Wales and England in the thirteenth century, and what Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen once called “Sharon’s five book trilogy about the Angevins.”     It is a tricky balancing act, for you are writing for two audiences, new readers who know nothing of what came before and those readers who know enough that you risk boring them with too much repetition.    So it was with some hesitancy that I settled down with Death of Kings.
I need not have worried; I was riveted from the very first page.   I soon realized that BC had created a unique character in Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a man who could be courageous, reckless, insightful, stubborn, sardonic, generous, vengeful, and playful—sometimes all in the course of a single day.  By the time I’d finished Death of Kings, I was utterly captivated by Uhtred, and real life then came to a screeching halt as I hastened to order all of the earlier books in the Saxon series.   Book lovers know that the only joy greater than discovering a new writer is finding that this writer has a healthy backlist waiting to be read.    So for those of you who have not yet encountered Uhtred, you have hit the literary lottery.  BC has written ten novels about Uhtred, his kings, his women, and his enemies:   The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horsemen, The Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, the Pagan Lord, The Empty Throne, Warriors of the Storm, and now The Flame Bearer.   Just be prepared to become a recluse until you read them all.
Before I was fortunate enough to get my first novel, The Sunne in Splendour, published, I’d been a lawyer, which I considered penance for my sins.  I am going to draw upon my legal background now, though, to make the case that Bernard Cornwell is the best historical novelist of our time.
What makes his novels so special?   Well, he is a master wordsmith.  He can make his words sing or snarl and he can conjure up images so powerful that they will burn into the back of a reader’s brain, not to be forgotten.   Writing well may seem such an obvious requirement that it is not worth mentioning.  But there are many successful writers whose books are plot driven, their prose pedestrian at best.   A Cornwell novel has all the elements that readers look for—suspense, action, colorful characters, etc.   It will also be sprinkled with small gems, descriptive phrases that soar and make other writers think, “I wish I’d written that!”
Here are a few examples of BC’s lyricism at work.    “The sky to the east was molten gold around a bank of sun-drenched cloud, while the rest was blue. Pale blue to the east and dark blue to the west where night fled toward the unknown lands beyond the distant ocean.”     Or “They were either fishing or cargo vessels and they rightly feared a sea wolf seething northward with the waves foaming white at her jaws.”   And “The drenching dark crept along the valleys on either side of us as a slither of light crackled wicked and sharp across the northern sky.”
What else makes a BC  novel so mesmerizing?   Historical accuracy is very important to me, both as a writer and a reader, and he never disappoints.   His research is thorough and yet it never gets away from him, always a risk for historical novelists.  When I read of a bygone age, I want to know how the people lived, what they wore and ate and believed, but these facts need to be stitched seamlessly into the fabric of the story—the way threads are woven into a tapestry until a pattern eventually emerges.  BC’s tapestry tells us of a time when the Son of God was challenging the old Norse gods, a time when warrior kings and lords fought for supremacy and history hovered at a cross-road; would England be pagan or Christian, Danish or English, united or split into numerous petty kingdoms?
As important as it is for a historical novel to have a solid factual foundation, that alone is not enough.   It must also have characters who are three-dimensional, vivid, memorable.   The major protagonist in the Saxon series towers above them all like the Colossus of Rhodes.  Uhtred is uniquely positioned to understand the wars between Saxons and Danes.  He is Saxon himself, the son of a Saxon earl, who was abducted as a child and raised by the Danes.  He does not love the Christians or their God, but he is a man of honor and fights for them because he’d given his oath to King Alfred and then to Alfred’s daughter, Aethelflaed.
He is also a man of violence, a lethal warlord who glories in the fame he has won in the shield wall and on battlefields soaked in blood.  He is cynical, sarcastic, and impulsive.  He is often his own worst enemy, realizing that he would be foolish to insult a Danish raider, to alienate a king, to offend a bishop with his notorious lack of tact.  Almost every time, though, he then goes ahead and does it anyway.   Definitely a man with flaws, but BC makes us care so deeply for him that those flaws don’t matter; we are always willing to forgive him even when his foes do not.
He is surrounded by other characters who seem very real to us, even those we find loathsome or contemptible.  We do not always like King Alfred; I certainly did not.  But we understand, as Uhtred does,  that Alfred’s vision is a powerful one, the dream of a country called England.    We mourn for those who die and rejoice when others survive.  Uhtred’s world becomes our own, at least for three hundred pages or so, and when we finish that last page, we feel a sense of loss.
Another of BC’s strengths is how well he writes of women.  As strange as it may sound, some publishers continue to harbor an odd bias—the belief that male authors cannot write convincingly of women and vice versa.   I’d never encountered this bias myself, but I have writer friends who’ve not been as fortunate.  For anyone who still clings to this outdated notion, read one of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon novels.  Meet the women who matter to Uhtred.  Gisela, beguiling and bold, the love of his life.   Stiorra, his daughter, who proves that the apple does not fall far from the tree.  The courageous Abbess Hild, who loves God and Uhtred.   The sorrowful Welsh shadow-queen, Iseult.    His women need not be sympathetic to be unforgettable.   There is his sultry bedmate, Skade, whose capacity for cruelty is horrifying, and Brida, his childhood friend and lover, who turns into a monster in the course of the series. Or Aethelflaed, whose youthful joy is leached from her soul by the burdens of queenship and a wretched marriage. BC breathes life into each and every one of these disparate women and when they are on-stage, even Uhtred finds it hard to compete with their star power.
I’ve already mentioned one of the other strengths of the Saxon series books, but it is worth stressing.  BC is very good at the sharp-edged male banter that is the coin of their realm and Uhtred’s sardonic sense of humor is a wicked delight, often surfacing at the most unlikely times.  Any book that can make me laugh aloud goes at once to my Favorites List.
Lastly, there are the battles.  I’ve often said that no writer in the world does better battle scenes than Bernard Cornwell.    George R.R. Martin, no slouch himself at spilling blood, agrees with me.    So does any writer who has ever turned his or her hand at fighting a fictional battle and then reads one of BC’s books.
When we frequently write about battles, we must constantly look for ways to make each battle fresh and original.  When I had to fight a battle in the Llyn Peninsula between the Welsh prince, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, and his brothers, Owain and Davydd, I went to the Caernarfonshire Archives for help, as almost nothing was known of this particular battle.  They dragged out maps and translated several passages for me, and then I drove out to explore the battlefield for myself.  I’d been very pleased to find a river on the map, thinking I could let some of the soldiers drown when they tried to flee.  Much to my disappointment, I discovered that the river was so shallow a snake could not have drowned in it.  But then I saw a sign warning of quicksand.  When writing that scene, I resisted the temptation to go hopelessly Hollywood and so my characters merely blundered into the quagmire and then lost all interest in bashing each other until they could get back on solid ground.
My favorite battles are those that were out of the ordinary, for that made them more dramatic and easier to write: the fog at Barnet Heath, the ambush at Tewkesbury, the Lionheart’s encounter with a huge Saracen ship as he sailed for Acre.   But BC fights so many battles that he has to invent most of them out of whole cloth, and his imagination never runs dry.     Uhtred is always one jump ahead of his foes.  Who else would think to use sails in the assault upon an enemy fort?   Or beehives?    Or horses as a temporary dam to enable his soldiers to ford a river?    Uhtred and his alter-ego author could match wits with Caesar, the Lionheart, or Napoleon, with any of history’s most celebrated battle commanders, and more than hold their own.
What he does is all the more remarkable because his soldiers and their wars span so many centuries.  Uhtred’s shield wall in tenth century England.    The battles of Poitiers and Crecy in fourteenth century France.   Richard Sharpe and his Chosen Men at the siege of Badajoz  in nineteenth century Spain.  He shows us how men fought and what they felt when they were fighting and this alone would make his books well worth reading.
His legions of fans most likely know already that his tenth novel in the Saxon series, The Flame Bearer, was published in the U.K. in October and in the U.S. in November.  For writers, it can be challenging to keep a series fresh and innovative, to prevent it from becoming stale and repetitive.   Many writers struggle with this, no matter how talented they are.  But a few of them not only meet the challenge, they transcend it.
Three of my favorite authors at once come to mind.  Dana Stabenow has written twenty Kate Shugak mysteries set in her native Alaska, each one a joy to read.  Priscilla Royal has written thirteen medieval mysteries that also defy the passage of time, and in P.F. Chisholm’s eight Elizabethan mysteries about Robert Carey, a real-life cousin of Elizabeth I, he continues to thrive.   Their characters are not stagnant or static; they mature and grow, their lives and relationships changing as the years go by. That may be the secret of a successful series; if so, it is one that Bernard Cornwell understands, too.  The Flame Bearer, his tenth Saxon novel, in which Uhtred continues his quest to recover his family legacy—Bebbanburg Castle–is as spellbinding as The Last Kingdom, in which we meet ten year old Uhtred for the first time.    I am already looking forward to the eleventh book.
January 12, 2017

58 Responses to “WHY I LOVE BERNARD CORNWELL”

  1. Jennifer Horning Says:

    Very nice and very interesting

  2. Kenneth Lee Says:

    Compeltely agree, have read many BC novels and have never read a bad one

  3. Sherrie Says:

    I heartily concur! BC’s battles are so compelling and Uhtred is a wonderful finely drawn character. I do think his most recent book is the best. Hard to pull off when a series is lengthy.

  4. Mike Says:

    And thank goodness there will be another book!

    I agree with what you’ve said about Cornwell’s battle scenes, particularly (since I just finished it last week), the big battle scene in The Flame Bearer. It’s interesting that most of the men fighting are not doing so because they love it; instead, it takes a long time (and much ale) to work up the courage and resolve to go to the shield wall.

  5. Beverly Fontaine Says:

    Sharon, you are right on about BC. I discovered Richard Sharpe in 1980 and I don’t think I’ve missed a Bernard Cornwell book since then. I’ve begged and pleaded with the library each time they failed to order one and made sure that they are all available so others can enjoy his books as much as I do.

    Also, right on about the battle scenes and historical accuracy. Those two things are critical for me as a reader. I love historical novels but will stop and throw a book away if I discover the author in an obvious error. That is one reason I love your books so much. And Roberta Gellis was the same: such great information about how people lived, what they ate and the clothing they wore.

  6. Howard Smith Says:

    I agree, the stories of Uhtred are brilliant! The televised series “The Last Kingdom” is currently being repeated on BBC 2, and covers the first two books in the series. Fortunately, I live fairly close to Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island, Durham, Hadrian’s Wall & York, which adds to the enjoyment. Bernard Cornwell is a superb author, and his earlier “Sharpe” series about the Napoleonic Peninsular War, was truly compelling and exciting, (as was the TV series which starred Sean Bean, as his promoted from the ranks, officer hero.

  7. Larry Steele Says:

    While I have not been able to develop an affinity for the Sharp Series, I cannot agree more about your praise for Uhtred and the Saxons. Uhtred’s mixed loyalties and his scorn for (most of) the Christian clergy give the series a sense of Alfred and his times. When asked about the series, I always quote you and G.R.R. Martin’s praise for Cornwell’s battle scenes — and neither of you are slouches in my book. It is great to see you back at the computer — I hope that the gods of health AND computers smile on you this year.

  8. Mark Noce Says:

    He’s written so much on so many eras, and I definitely enjoy it. Glad you mentioned Geraldine Brooks too, I love her stuff:)

  9. Cristina Beans Says:

    Dear Sharon, I just spent about an hour yesterday explaining to a friend who is a fellow book lover how wonderful your books are and why I love them so much, as well as telling her how great BC was and how great his books were (but recommended she start with the Warlord trilogy).
    So I find it a wonderful coincidence to read this post of yours today ! I have forwarded it to my friend telling her to read it and see it as part of the reason why I am such a big fan of both you and a BC!

  10. Thomas Greene Says:

    My only complaint with B.C. is Uhtred’s concerning Christianity. I get it that Uhtred is a pagan, a bitter one at that, but given my personal background some of B.C.’s comments about Jesus and the Holy Spirit, etc just kind of gives me the heebie jeebies. Other than that I agree he is an outstanding novelist. But Sharon Darlin, he is NOT a better historical novelist than you. I remain a die hard Sharon Kay Penman fan.

  11. Sienna M Potts Says:

    Not only do I love your books (hoping the fates conspire to speed the next one to the press!) but I love the books you recommend! I’m on an English history binge (years long already, looking like a lifelong obsession) that started with your Sunne. Finally picked up The Last Kingdom on Christmas day & just finished The Pale Horseman. Captivating, riveting, yes, what you said. Can’t wait to get into the next one… But I’m currently reading Dissolution by CJ Sansom & Crown in Darkness by PC Doherty is on my pile, as well as another Ian Rutledge book from Charles Todd… So glad there are so many wonderful authors to keep me going!

  12. Susan Says:

    Sharon, the late Margaret Frazer also had the ability to keep a series fresh and interesting. How I miss Dame Frevisse!

  13. Noreen Fish Says:

    I loved the Grail Quest series and was looking forward to the first book in the Saxon Chronicles. Unfortunately, I found I really didn’t like Uhtred as a character, and I couldn’t finish The Last Kingdom. I’m going to have to give it another try. Maybe the key is to start in the middle of the series!

  14. Patricia Bracewell Says:

    Dear Sharon, As a long-time fan of both Sharon Kay Penman and Bernard Cornwell, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you write here, with such enthusiasm and insight, about B.C. Thank you for your astute breakdown of the skills involved in writing excellent historical fiction.

  15. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Noreen, if you don’t like Uhtred, I think you probably would not enjoy the series all that much simply because he is in virtually every scene. Have you tried the Sharpe series? They are set during the Napoleonic Wars. BC also has written excellent stand-alone books like Agincourt.

    I’d like to thank all of you who complimented me on my long-overdue blog and agreed with me that Bernard Cornwell is an exceptional historical novelist. Of course it helps that we are all medieval nerds!
    On this date in 1151, one of the more significant figures of the twelfth century died, Abbot Suger of St Denis. He was a highly influential and respected counselor to two French kings, Louis le Gros and his son, Louis VII, first husband of our Eleanor. He was also a historian, author, and artistic patron; at one time he was even considered the originator of gothic architecture, although historians today don’t give him quite as much credit for that. We have him to thank for the survival of the elegant crystal vase that Eleanor presented to Louis at the time of their wedding, which resides today in the Louvre. Louis then gave it to Suger; he would. Some historians have speculated that if Suger had not died when he did, Louis and Eleanor might not have gotten divorced, for Suger was adamantly opposed to the dissolution of their marriage. From all I’ve read of Abbot Suger, he was a benevolent influence, clever and generous, his only “flaw” a taste for luxurious living. But since my livelihood depends upon the accession of the Plantagenets to the English throne, I suppose I have to be glad that Abbot Suger did not get more time on earth than his biblical three score years and ten.

  16. Susan Says:

    Wow. What a great tribute to Bernard Cornwell’s work….because I totally agree. Love him also! It’s hard to do, but I am reading Flame Bearer slowly because I don’t want it to end.

  17. Janet Says:

    In catching up with your blog posts tonight, I happened upon your interview with Priscilla Royal and the name was suddenly familiar. I went back to my Kindle library and there was her book, Wine of Violence. I’d forgotten all about it! What a find on a cold snowy night in the mountains north of Los Angeles. I have tucked myself up in bed with some hot chocolate on the night stand, and will happily spend the hours before sleep reading this lucky find. Perfect!!!!

  18. Patrisia Says:

    This is such a coincidence because I just started the Saxon series this morning. I have been meaning to read something by Cornwell because of another mention you made of him in one of your blogs a while ago. So far, I love it. And how fun is it that there are so many in this series?

  19. Denise K Says:

    Yes me too! I was first introduced to Bernard Cornwell’s books with The Pagan Lord. The title intrigued me, even though it was only the latest in a whole series. From the first chapter, I was sucked into Uhtred’s world, and have never left. Not sure if The Flame Bearer is the best, as I feel each book is equally compelling. The best part of Flame Bearer is the last few words of the author’s note, where he tells us that Uhtred’s adventures are not yet over. I am soooo happy to know there is more to come…and thrilled that my feelings are shared by you, Sharon!

  20. Susan Feuille Says:

    I think Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Series keeps getting better. The adaptation series “The Last Kingdom ” was the perfect excuse to read the series again. I haven’t done that since Sharon Kay Penman ’s Wales and England books!

  21. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    According to weather warnings, over forty-four million Americans are in the path of a dangerous ice storm; I am sure some of them are my Facebook friends and readers, so I hope you all will stay safe and warm this weekend. I’d rather face a blizzard than an ice storm any day of the week.
    The rest of this message is for my fellow football fans—American football, not soccer. :-) This is considered one of the best football weekends, with four play-off games, three of them likely to be very competitive. Today I am rooting for the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, and tomorrow for the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Which teams are you guys cheering on?

  22. Mac Craig Says:

    3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

  23. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Which one is the fourth, Mac?

    My congratulations to my fellow Green Bay fans, and my sympathies to those whose teams lost this weekend; it always hurts—says an Eagles fan with a lot of experience in losing. Here is a heartening story for all of us, one with a happy ending, and we need as many of them as we can get. http://www.care2.com/causes/shelter-dog-nobody-wanted-alerts-new-owners-to-gas-leak.html

  24. Mac Craig Says:

    You said you were rooting for the Chiefs, but Steelers won. Packers were my boyhood favorites - no A.F.L. yet. We had Giants on TV in Mass., but it was difficult to support N.Y. team. I looked forward to Thanksgiving game, which was always Lions and Packers in those days.

  25. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Ah, I misread your post, Mac; I thought you meant you’d been rooting for three of the same teams as I was. I know you are a baseball guy, but do you follow any of the Florida football teams? Tampa Bay?

    We are so lucky to live in the age of the Internet. From the comfort of our homes, we can go to the Leicester Cathedral website and examine Richard III’s stunningly beautiful Book of Hours. Enjoy it via this link. http://leicestercathedral.org/about-us/richard-iii/book-hours/ Also a belated Happy Birthday to the eternal Betty White, who celebrated her 95th birthday yesterday; she is, of course, a very gifted actress, but I also admire her greatly for speaking out so forcefully against animal cruelty, and I imagine we all envy her for aging so well and with such grace and humor.

  26. Joan Says:

    What a privilege & rather emotional experience to see this beautiful Book of Hours. I’ll examine it more thoroughly over the next while & will send the site on.

    What a lovely dog Kailey is……animals are the best. Had to chuckle when I read “Velcro” because we had a Velcro kid, very affectionate.

    Sharon your post is riveting. I must get into Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series one day. The image from Agincourt forever branded in my mind is of a most horrendous death……suffocation when oozing muck entered the holes of the helmut of a fallen soldier as his head was thrust into the rain-sodden clay of the battlefield, in essence, being buried alive! Your post does justice to this brilliant writer.

  27. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Thank you, Joan! That is such a lovely compliment.

    So much sad news in the world today. Let’s pray that there will be some survivors of that horrific avalanche that buried an Italian hotel and pray for the families of all the firefighters lost in the collapse of that building in Tehran; every time I hear of a tragedy involving first responders, I instinctively think of 9/11.
    On the historical front, yesterday was the marriage date in 1487 of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York. Not much to say about that—even for a woman who writes 800 page books.

  28. Mac Craig Says:

    Actually, Sharon, I did watch the ends of three playoff games and was pleased to see Patriots, Packers, and Steelers win. I had no favorite in the fourth game. Elizabeth Plantagenet did pass on to her son Henry her father’s size and strength, if not many of his good qualities. I had not remembered Caleb’s Crossing as one of your favorite historical novels in 2011, though I did listen to you on PBS. A friend gave me that novel, after another friend had given it to her. She thought of my Harvard and Cape Cod (though I have never set foot on Martha’s Vineyard) and colonial Massachusetts connections.
    I took the novel with me to read on one of our Apalachicola weekends a couple years ago and liked it very much.

  29. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Mac, I have sometimes wondered if Elizabeth of York would have been a good influence upon her son if she had not died so young. He was said to adore her.

    I have been closely following the story of that hotel in Italy buried in an avalanche, and I am very happy to report that they have been finding survivors—ten at last count. I was particularly struck by the story of one of the guests; he’d gone outside to retrieve something from his car just as the avalanche struck, with his wife and two children among the people buried in that mountain of snow. Well, he got his own miracle yesterday as his family was among those rescued. The rescue mission is very dangerous but, as always, the rescuers continue to put their own lives at risk, and they remain hopeful that others may be found alive.
    Most of my readers are animal lovers, so I thought you might like to read this thought-provoking blog by a woman who is involved in rescue work; we are probably more familiar with dogs and cats rather than horses, so that makes this article all the more interesting. http://equinemountain.simplesite.com/432518936/4419655/posting/why-is-my-horse-so-angry

  30. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I hope that everyone in the path of nasty weather today stays warm and safe. Here is a post from several years ago, which I am hoping no one remembers! And on the football front, Go, Green Bay!
    On January 20th, 1265, a significant event occurred in English history. On this date, Simon de Montfort summoned what many historians consider to be the first English parliament. Simon requested that the counties and towns each send two representatives, insisting that they be elected. This parliament was also the first time that knights and townspeople attended such a session together. So on this day, let’s pause and give credit where due to the arrogant French aristocrat who cracked open democracy’s door, however briefly, for of course Henry III refused to recognize it. One of my favorite characters in Falls the Shadow was Thomas Fitz Thomas, the Lord Mayor of London, who became one of Simon’s most steadfast allies, although he would pay a high price for his courage and devotion to his city; he was imprisoned for four years and his health suffered greatly during his captivity.
    And this next item is for my Polish friend Kasia. On January 20th, 1320, Wladyslaw Lokietek was crowned King of Poland. He was quite short and Lokietek actually translates as “elbow high.” But I think he was a moral giant, for he sought to establish a uniform legal code that gave Jews equal rights with Christians, and this was 1320, people. So let’s pause to remember Wladyslaw, too, today.

  31. Joan Says:

    I salute these 2 heroes!!

  32. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Condolences to my fellow Green Bay fans, but congrats to Atlanta and NE fans. Good luck to all getting nasty weather today like our Nor’easter. January 23rd was not a good day for English history either, for the King of France managed to make the battles of Lewes and Evesham inevitable with his Mise of Amiens judgment, in which he absolved Henry III from the oath he’d sworn to obey the Provisions of Oxford, which had circumscribed some of his royal power. It seems very naïve that Simon de Montfort and the barons could have expected the French king to rule against a fellow king, one who was also his brother-in-law. But naiveté was not one of Simon’s personality traits, so they must have agreed to submit their quarrel to the French king out of sheer desperation, a last ditch effort to avoid bloodshed. Think of it as a political Hail Mary pass, but unless you’ve got Aaron Rodgers holding the football, they rarely succeed. In this case, war soon followed.

  33. Michael Puttonen Says:

    I first became aware of Bernard Cornwell from watching the BBC films based on his Sharpe novels. That led me to seek out his books, which I devoured, mesmerized by Cornwell’s magnificent storytelling prowess and his seamless blending of stark and lyrical prose. Since then, I have read most of his rousing historical fiction, including the unparalleled Saxon series. Here is an example of the author’s writing taking flight, from The Pagan Lord, where Uhtred describes his love of the sea:

    “I love the whale’s path, the long waves, the wind flecking the world with blown spray, the dip of a ship’s prow into a swelling sea and the explosion of white and the spatter of saltwater on sail and timbers, and the green heart of a great sea rolling behind the ship, rearing up, threatening, the broken crest curling, and then the stern lifts to the surge and the hull lunges forward and the sea seethes along the strakes as the wave roars past.”

    Cornwell’s admirable craftsmanship is a gift to readers.

  34. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    It is unfortunate that many of today’s young women do not realize what a pioneer Mary Tyler Moore was. When she first pitched the idea for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she’d wanted her character, Mary Richards, to be a divorcee. The studio heads (all male, of course) vetoed that, finding the idea of a young divorcee to be vaguely scandalous. And this was 1971! What struck me about all the tributes pouring in after her death was how often professional women acclaimed her as their role model; for many young girls, her show would be validation that women could aspire to careers as well as marriage and motherhood. It is not always easy to be a pioneer; I was one of the first female attorneys in Atlantic County, NJ and I lost track of the times that I was mistaken in court for a reporter or a plaintiff or a spectator, even judges finding it difficult to imagine a woman lawyer. So, I, too, am grateful to Mary Tyler Moore and like so many, I feel as if a light has gone out. Here is an interesting article about the impact of her shows, for she broke new ground with her role in the Dick Van Dyke Show, too.
    http://www.vulture.com/2017/01/mary-tyler-moore-one-of-tvs-greatest-auteurs.html

  35. Mac Craig Says:

    We will definitely miss MTM. Allys and I watched her show and Bob Newhart’s every Saturday night for several years.

  36. Paul Grinyer Says:

    Your wonderful article about BC and his ability to bring characters and their lives alive across the centuries has encouraged me to read your own books. Starting with Here Be Dragons. Can’t wait to get started.
    Thanks for opening my eyes to a new (to me) author.

  37. Joan Says:

    It’s quite jolting when we’re reminded of things that were still taboo just a handful of decades ago. I hope she fully realized her impact on at least a couple of generations. Brava to Mary Tyler Moore & also to you Sharon. You have an enduring impact today as author & teacher.

  38. skpenman Says:

    I watched Bob Newhart, too, Mac–both of his shows, actually.

    Thank you so much, Joan; what a wonderful compliment.

    Many of you know I don’t do much posting about those ubiquitous Tudors, who already enjoy a Hollywood monopoly, though in fairness, Hollywood was not to blame for the atrocious series, The Tudors. But it is impossible to ignore their annoying dynasty this week. On the 25th, Henry and Anne Boleyn were finally wed, surely one of history’s most accursed unions, not only for them but for the millions of Henry’s subjects whose lives and faith were turned upside down because of his illicit passion for Anne. Today was the birthdate of Henry VII in 1157 and the death date in 1547 of his son, Henry VIII. And tomorrow is the anniversary of the day in 1536 when Anne miscarried of a son. The Spanish ambassador, Chapuys, put it succinctly when he commented, “She has miscarried of her savior.” I personally think that even if she’d given Henry the son he was so desperate to have, her time as queen would have been limited, for Henry had already turned against her and his roving eye settled upon Jane Seymour. But there is no doubt that this miscarriage led to her execution at the Tower just four months later. And as improbable as it seems, the miscarriage that doomed Anne occurred on the very day that her rival and predecessor, Catherine of Aragon, was buried at Peterborough Abbey. No novelist would have dare to invent that, just as no novelist would have dared to invent an eclipse of the sun on the day of Anne Neville’s death or any of the bizarre coincidences and occurrences that cropped up so often in the lives of the Plantagenets and Tudors. I leave the last word to my favorite American writer, the incomparable Mark Twain, who explained that “Truth is stranger than Fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
    And we have lost another talented actor, John Hurt. He had a highly successful career, but I will always remember him for his heartbreaking performance in one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen, The Elephant Man.

  39. Mac Craig Says:

    There is another John Hurt worth noting: the Southern blues musician known as Mississippi John Hurt. He played guitar in a very distinctive way, and his music is among my favorite from the blues players of the first half of the 20th century. (He was “rediscovered,” along with many others, in the early ’60s.) Much of what the incomparable (the perfect adjective!) Twain wrote is still topical today. I would point especially to The Gilded Age.

  40. Susan Johnson Says:

    There are times when reading this series that I felt I was actually felt like I was in a shield wall. He brought it to life so much that I was there. My favorite part of the series where the kingdom of England as we know it came down to a swamp with Alfred and Uhtred. It still sends chills down my spine.

    This was a great article. Thank you.

  41. skpenman Says:

    So true, Mac. I had a long-term relationship with a man who loved the blues and was very knowledgeable about that form of music. I remember him talking about John Hurt the musician.

    I missed a lot of historical happenings for the month of January, so I will occasionally try to play catch-up. Here is one for the events that occurred on January 16th.
    On January 16, 27 BC, Octavian was granted the title of Augustus by the Roman Senate, marking the beginning of the Roman Empire.
    On January 16, 1245, Henry III’s second son, Edmund, was born. Edmund was a character in Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, and I became quite fond of him and his French wife, Blanche. The history of kings is rife with troublesome younger brothers like George of Clarence. Edmund was an anomaly, for he was loyal to his own elder brother, Edward I. He was also the founder of the House of Lancaster, but I forgive him for that. 
    On January 16th, 1325, the poet Petrarch’s beloved Laura was wed to a man named Hughes de Sade; it was Petrarch, of course, who would give Laura literary immortality.
    On January 16th, 1409, Rene, the Duke of Anjou, King of Naples and titular King of Jerusalem, was born. Rene was the father of Marguerite d’Anjou, the Red Queen of Lancaster. Although he was known as Good King Rene, I’ve always regarded him with a jaundiced eye, for he did little to ease the last years of his unhappy daughter, who was dependent upon a small pension given her by the French king.
    And also on January 16th, 1362, a prosperous German city, Rungholt, sank below the waves when a powerful storm surge of the North Sea engulfed the island of Strand. A medieval Atlantis, Rungholt, would give rise to legends like that other “lost city,” with people claiming that they could hear the church bells of Rungholt chiming beneath the waters of the North Sea.

  42. skpenman Says:

    For those who have not yet read Stephanie Churchill’s The Scribe’s Daughter, I am happy to report that you can download it for free today at Amazon. It is technically fantasy, but the setting will be familiar to us medieval nerds, for Stephanie—like GRRM—turned to the Middle Ages for inspiration when she created her world; it is surprising how many fantasy writers do this, but I am very glad they do. How can you improve on moated castles and knights on horseback? In the interest of full disclosure, Stephanie is a friend of mine, but I would not recommend The Scribe’s Daughter if I’d not enjoyed it very much. Okay, admittedly, that would have been awkward if I’d not liked it after reading it—I might have had to join the Witness Protection Program if she’d been persistent about asking for my opinion. Thankfully, I was hooked from the opening paragraph:
    “I never imagined my life would end this way. Not today. And certainly not in this place. Yet here I was. It was midday, and had I the ability to tilt my face toward the sky, I would have been blinded by the early summer sun, a silent observer of my murder.” Now who could possibly read that and not want to keep reading? Anyway, there are few bargains better than a free book, so take advantage of it while you can.
    https://www.amazon.com/Scribes-Daughter-Stephanie-Churchill-ebook/dp/B012YS1Q3K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1485974732&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Scribe%27s+Daughter

  43. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I am behind schedule again; curse you, Deadline Dragon. But I could not ignore February 2nd, so here is my post for that date, better late than never.
    February 2nd was an important day on the medieval Church calendar—Candlemas. And this date resonated in several of my novels. February 2nd, 1141 was the battle of Lincoln, in which Stephen was defeated and taken prisoner by Robert, the Earl of Gloucester, on behalf of his sister, the Empress Maude. At the risk of seeming blood-thirsty, I like writing of battles and this was a good one, filled with high drama and suspense. February 2nd was also the date of an important Yorkist battle, at Mortimer’s Cross in 1461. Edward, who’d become Duke of York and head of his fractured family upon the death of his father at the battle of Wakefield barely a month ago, was trying to prevent Owen Tudor and reinforcements coming out of Wales from joining the Lancastrians, and he forced a battle not far from Wigmore. Even before the fighting began, he faced a challenge when a parhelion appeared in the sky, a phenomenon that made it look as if there were three suns overhead. Naturally this frightened his soldiers, but the quick-witted Edward cried out that the suns represented the Holy Trinity and was an omen of victory; he would later adopt this as his cognizance, the Sunne in Splendour. Having staved off disaster, he then proceeded to defeat the Lancastrians, captured Owen Tudor, and had him executed—not surprising, since the heads of his father and brother and uncle were even then on poles above Micklegate Bar in York. Edward then went on to receive a hero’s welcome by the city of London and shattered the Lancastrian hopes in a savage battle fought in a snowstorm at Towton on Palm Sunday. What is truly remarkable is that Edward was not yet nineteen years old.
    I thought of Edward’s parhelion when I was reading a chronicler’s account of the building of Richard I’s beloved “saucy castle, “ Chateau Gaillard. I was familiar with the exchange between the kings over Chateau Gaillard. Philippe, fuming at seeing this formidable stronghold rising up on the Vexin border, vowed that he would take it if its walls were made of steel. When he was told this, Richard laughed and said he’d hold it if its walls were made of butter. But there is another story about Gaillard not as well known. In the spring of 1198, Richard was personally supervising the construction, as he often did, when a shower of blood suddenly fell from the skies. Naturally, this freaked out everyone—everyone but Richard. The chronicler reported that “The king was not dismayed at this, nor did he relax in promoting the work in which he took so great delight.” Now I confess my first reaction to this story was an uncharitable one, wondering if the chronicler, William of Newburgh, had been hitting the wine when he wrote this. Shower of rain and blood? But when I Googled it, I discovered that red rain has indeed fallen at various times, and there were even some unsettling photos of a red rain in India that really did look like blood. Clearly strong-willed men like Richard and Edward were not as superstitious as their brethren.
    For me, though, February 2nd has another, sadder meaning, for on this date in 1237, Joanna, daughter of King John and wife of Llywelyn Fawr, died at Aber and was buried at Llanfaes, where her grieving husband established a friary in honor of her memory. Last year, I posted her death scene here, so this time I am doing something slightly different, a scene from Falls the Shadow in which Llywelyn is still grieving for Joanna.
    * * *
    An intimate enemy, Death, capricious and cruel, ultimately invincible. But Llywelyn did not fear his own demise, and he truly thought he’d taken its measure, knew the worst it could do. And then Death claimed his wife.
    There was a Welsh proverb: for every wound, the ointment of time. To Llywelyn, it was an empty promise, a hollow mockery. Time would not heal. Till the day he died, he would grieve for Joanna. Now he sought only to learn to live without her. But so far it was a lesson that eluded him, for Joanna’s was an unquiet grave. She came to him in the night, filled every room with her unseen presence, a tender, tempting ghost, beckoning him back to a past that was far more real to him than the joyless, dismal world he now inhabited. It had been more than two months, the longest he’d ever gone without a woman in his bed, but he felt no stirrings of desire. The woman he wanted was dead. It was April and all about him were the miracles of new life. He looked upon this verdant, blossoming spring, a spring Joanna would never see, he looked upon a field of brilliant blue flowers—the bluebells Joanna had so loved—and at that moment he’d willingly have bartered all his tomorrows for but one yesterday.
    * * *

  44. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I imagine many of you are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl, even non-football fans. A reminder for those utterly allergic to pigskin, the Animal Planet is running its Puppy Bowl all day long; surely no one is allergic to puppies? Back to the game, with apologies to my friends and readers who are cheering the Falcons on, I am on Team Patriots. Whatever their flaws, it is hard to argue that Tom Brady and Darth Vader are probably the best QB and coach we are likely to see in our lifetimes. Also, not being a Roger Goodell fan, I would enjoy watching him hand over the SB trophy to Brady, Kraft, and Belichick. As for the commercials, I fully expect another Budweiser Clydesdale ad to carry the day.
    Historically, tomorrow will mark the 65th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the British throne. Normally I am not much interested in events that did not occur in the MA, but I think she deserves mention for such a lengthy reign; in September, she will overtake Queen Victoria. Here is a link to an interesting story about the queen. It also lists the ten people in line for the throne after Elizabeth, and #10 stumped me, a Viscount Severn. Yes, I could easily Google him, but I figured it is just as easy to ask some of the royalists in our group; who is this guy? Thanks! http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/queen-elizabeth-ii-marks-65-years-britain-s-throne-n716376

  45. Marti Says:

    He is the son of Prince Edward

  46. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Thanks, Marti!

    Atlanta fans, I feel your pain, I do, for I’ve had lots of experience with heartrending losses. Hey, I’m an Eagles fan; we even lost a close one to the Pats in the 2005 SB. But I hope that even those who are not fans of the Patriots were able to enjoy a game that featured a comeback for the ages. Sorry, Joe Montana, I think you’ve been dethroned as the GOAT. (For non-sports fans, that means Greatest of all Time.) As for me, I am a happy camper this morning.
    Back to medieval matters, it occurred to me that some of my new Facebook friends might not be familiar with one of the best sites for anyone interested in the MA. Here is the link; if you like what you see, you can subscribe to their newsletter, a fun way to start your day. http://www.medievalists.net/

  47. Mac Craig Says:

    I usually support any New England team, following Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics before my transplantation to Florida at 13. Then, besides summer on Cape Cod, I was back in Mass. for college, after then-Boston Patriots were created. Still, I had reservations about this Super Bowl, considering the friendships of several team principals with our Insane Clown President. I paid little attention to the game until the amazing comeback began. Had to watch the O.T. No question now who the top QB and coach in NFL are.

  48. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    A number of my readers like to contribute each year to Gracie’s Gifts, so I am posting about their annual blanket collection drive. It is so sad to think that these newborns and their mothers are in such dire need. Here is the information provided by my friend Patrice:

    On March 6 2003 my beloved granddaughter was born with OI & lived 19 hours. While in the hospital she received a home made blanket.
    In her memory my daughter Holly collects blankets to be donated to be Temple Hospital’s
    Maternity ward, the poorest section in the city. We have been told that these blankets are the only new things these babies receive.
    I have found the best way to send blankets is thru Amazon (make sure they put a tag with your name on it) to my address:
    Patrice Batyski
    2205 Benson Street 2nd Floor
    Phila. PA. 19152
    All new blankets or homemade ones are gratefully accepted.
    February 28th is the last day.

  49. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I know quite a few of my readers enjoy Priscilla Royal’s mysteries, set in 13th century England. So I am very pleased to remind everyone that her newest, The Proud Sinner, is being published this week. Her publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, has also republished her first novel, Wine of Violence, and I was very flattered when they asked me to write a new Forward for this new edition of Wine. I will be doing an interview on my blog with Priscilla after she gets back from Arizona; see below for details.
    This next bit of information is for any of my readers fortunate enough to live near Scottsdale, Arizona. Priscilla will be signing copies of her new novel at The Poisoned Pen, my favorite bookstore, this Saturday, February 11th, between noon and 1 PM. If some of you live elsewhere and would still like an autographed copy, just contact the staff at the book store; they would be happy to accommodate your request. I copied this from the Poisoned Pen’s newsletter, which anyone can subscribe to; it is a fun way to keep up to date on new books and authors; sooner or later, all writers end up at the Poisoned Pen.
    SATURDAY FEBRUARY 11 12:00 PM
    Priscilla Royal signs The Proud Sinner (Poisoned Pen $26.95; $15.95) Medieval Mystery #13

    “Royal’s 13th medieval murder takes a page from The Mousetrap, forcing the detective to think outside the box imprisoning her and her suspects.”– Kirkus Reviews.

    Ever wonder how medieval kitchens prepped food? and served it. They are truly precursors of today’s Locavore cuisine. There’s kitchen inspection too!

    Prioress Eleanor of Norfolk’s Tyndal Priory must play reluctant host to seven scheming abbots and their servants who arrive at her door. One, suddenly taken ill while riding, is taken to the infirmary–and soon dies. Sister Anne redoubles her efforts to discover the cause of Ilbert’s death when Odo becomes ill and Abbott Gifre dies after eating mushroom tart. Are the priory’s kitchens, or Sister Anne, to blame?

    Both Crowner Ralf and Eleanor’s right hand, Brother Thomas, work clear the priory while searching out a killer before they all die, one by one.

    Also in paperback: Proud Sinner ($15.95). And Order the first 12 medieval mysteries by Royal

    https://www.amazon.com/Proud-Sinner-Medieval-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B01MYUWSCO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1486592768&sr=1-1&keywords=the+proud+sinner

  50. Susan Says:

    Thanks for introducing me to Priscilla Royal, Sharon! I read her first book based on your recommendation of her as a writer. I couldn’t stop reading her books until I finished her whole Tyndal series. I just finished her latest and can only say that mystery readers are in for a real treat! Too bad she only publishes one book a year. Looking forward to reading your interview with her!

  51. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Susan, I will be sure to forward your comments on to Priscilla. She will be delighted.

    February 10th was the date of death of two dukes, a king, one of those treacherous Stanleys, and the worst king-consort ever. Only two of them—maybe two and a half—were worth mourning.
    On February 10, 1126, William, the ninth Duke of Aquitaine, also known as the first troubadour duke, died after a long and eventful life. He had a keen sense of humor so he may have been amused that today he is mainly remembered as the grandfather of our Eleanor. But he also had a healthy ego, so maybe not. I would have grieved for him—unless I was one of his wives!
    On February 10, 1134, Robert, the Duke of Normandy died after being held prisoner by his not-so-loving younger brother, Henry I, for twenty-eight years. Robert seems to have been a feckless sort, certainly no match for the ruthlessness of Brother Henry, but he probably didn’t deserve nearly three decades of captivity.
    On February 10, 1163, Baldwin III, King of Jerusalem, died. He was only in his 33rd year and by all accounts was a very good king, an adroit politician, and a courageous battle commander. He also seems to have been a genuine good guy, charming, affable, and handsome. His death dramatically changed the history of the Holy Land, for he’d not yet had children with his beautiful bride, the seventeen year old Byzantine princess, Theodora, and so the crown passed to his younger brother Amalric, the Count of Jaffa. Amalric had none of Baldwin’s charisma, was taciturn and introverted. He proved to be a capable king, though, but he, too, died prematurely, leaving a thirteen year old son as his heir, the boy who would tragically become known to history as the Leper king. Had Baldwin not died so young or had Amalric lived long enough for his queen, also a Byzantine princess, to give him another son, the kingdom’s doomed march to Armageddon might not have happened. There is no doubt that Saladin is one of history’s more fascinating figures, a brilliant politician, but his great victory at Hattin was based in part upon the disunity among his Christian foes, just as the first crusaders took advantage of Saracen discord to carve out the kingdom of Outremer eighty-some years earlier. Baldwin III does not appear as a character in my new novel, being dead by the time the book opens, but Amalric makes a few appearances before dying of dysentery and his son is a major character, of course. Had I lived then, I would definitely have mourned Baldwin.
    On February 10, 1495, William, Lord Stanley, was executed by Henry Tudor, accused of treason, irony at its best. Party time!
    Lastly, on February 10, 1567, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was messily murdered, a death that was richly deserved. One of my favorite scenes from the wonderful film, Mary, Queen of Scots, had Elizabeth (the incomparable Glenda Jackson) and Cecil practically falling on the floor laughing upon learning that Mary had been foolish enough to take the bait and marry Darnley.

  52. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    February 11th, 1466 was the birthday of the first child of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, known to history as Elizabeth of York. We know her story and it is a sad one. At least from the outside, her marriage to Henry Tudor seems to have turned out better than she probably expected, given the circumstances and the fact that she had the Mother-in-law from Hell. (And I do not say that with Tudor bias, for I think Eleanor of Aquitaine was a Mother-in-law from Hell, too.) What little evidence there is indicates that Bess’s beauty and charm helped thaw Tudor’s hard heart. I like to think so, anyway. She was devoted to her children and I hope they gave her comfort for the loss of her Yorkist family. She had seven, and the sorrow of losing four of them. Even in an age in which childhood was a precarious time, that is more than her share of tragedy. It is interesting to speculate whether her son Henry’s life might have taken a better turn had she lived, for he was said to be devoted to her and cherished her memory. A kind-hearted woman, she would have been an influence for good. But she died on February 11th, 1503, nine days after giving birth to her seventh child, a little girl who died the day before she did. It was her thirty-eighth birthday.
    And here is a quiz to find out who your ideal historical date would have been. Mine was George Washington and no, I did not see that coming. But at least I did not get hooked up with a Tudor. https://www.zoo.com/quiz/which-historic-figure-did-you-date-a-previous-life?oid=914&mkcpgn=i600009951&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=paid

  53. Mac Craig Says:

    I got George Washington, too! (The beginning did not let me specify gender.) I guess that means if I had met you in a previous life, I would have dated you, Sharon. After all, I did know from my high school days about the bad historical treatment of Richard III.

  54. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Susan, I passed your post on to Priscilla; I also shared the compliments on this blog with BC.

    Mac, you never told me how you first became interested in Richard III?

    This post is for last week. On February 7th, 1478, George of Clarence was sentenced to death, although it would take Edward another ten days before he could bring himself to have the sentence carried out. I have always believed that George had become mentally ill by the time he died; it is hard to explain his behavior otherwise. I need to get inside the heads of my characters in order to write about them, yes, even Henry Tudor. But visiting Brother George’s brain was like being trapped in a funhouse, filled with those spooky mirrors that distort reality.

  55. Mac Craig Says:

    My interest in Richard III probably began with reading Thomas Costain in my teens. I know I was interested in the Middle Ages existed no later than age 12. I may have read Kendall’s biography in high school, certainly no later than my early college years.

  56. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I remember reading Costain, too, Mac. I did not read Kendall, though, until I’d already become interested in Richard’s story.

    Today’s post is only a day late, so I am making some progress.
    On February 13, 1177, Eleanor and Henry’s daughter Joanna, age eleven, wed William de Hauteville and was crowned as Queen of Sicily. It seems as if she and William had a happy marriage, although I doubt that she was thrilled about his harim of Saracen slave-girls. Yes, medieval women were realists when it came to male fidelity, but I suspect Joanna would have seen a harim as a bit much. Certainly “my” Joanna thought so. Joanna has always been a favorite of mine, the daughter most like Eleanor, and I was delighted to give her so much time on center stage in Ransom.
    And on February 13, 1542, silly little Catherine Howard became yet another victim of her husband’s monstrous ego. When Henry VIII discovered that she’d had a colorful past prior to their marriage, he was so outraged that he pushed a bill of attainder through Parliament making it treason for an “unchaste” woman to marry the king, then sent Catherine to the Tower, where she was beheaded on this date. In the past, we’ve discussed Jane Grey, who paid with her life for her family’s all-consuming ambition. So did Catherine Howard, although she had none of Jane’s intelligence or education, which makes her pathetic story all the sadder. Marriage to the aging, ailing, hot-tempered Henry was more than punishment enough for any sins of her feckless youth. Despite the legend, though, she did not say that she died the Queen of England but would rather have died the wife of Thomas Culpepper. Those about to be executed in Tudor England did not make defiant gallows speeches, wanting to spare their family from royal retribution. But Catherine really did ask for the block to be brought to her the night before her execution; she wanted to practice kneeling and putting her head upon it so she would be sure to do it correctly come the morning. How pitiful is that?

  57. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I might not be able to post here for a while, as I am trying to cope with the sudden, unexpected death of a dear friend, someone who has been an important part of my life for over thirty years. I know we’ve all been down this wretched road, so I know you all will understand. I will do my best not to fall off the edge of the world, though.
    This next message is for all the animal lovers, which are about 99.9% of my readers and Facebook friends. After I adopted a shepherd from Echo White Shepherd Rescue and shared how volunteers drove him up the coast from Florida to his new home with me, some of you then volunteered to drive for Echo, too, when needed. They are now sending a young shepherd named Niko to his new home and are asking for drivers, so here is the information. You can contact Sarabeth or me if you can spare a few hours this weekend.
    Niko needs a ride to his forever home on Saturday, February 25th. If you can help, please email me as soon as possible at hpsarabeth@gmail.com. If you can’t drive, please share with reliable contacts along the route. I know some of you aren’t in the area, but my contacts are thin on the DelMarVa peninsula. If you have contacts there, please share.–Sarabeth
    If you haven’t driven for Echo Dogs in a while or if your information has changed, please send this information if you can drive:
    • Name
    • Email
    • Cell Phone
    • Vehicle Information
    • License Plate Number
    • Brief physical description
    Niko
    Moyock, NC – Maspeth, NY
    Saturday February 25th
    City/State Group is based in: Midwest/East Coast
    Website: http://www.echodogs.org
    Reason for Transport: Foster to Adopter
    Transport Coordinator: Sarabeth Gordon
    Email address: hpsarabeth@gmail.com
    Cell Phone: (Sarabeth) 434-996-2899
    Echo Dogs – Passenger Information
    Passenger(s): Niko
    Breed: WGSD
    Age: 10 months
    Sex: M
    Neutered/Spayed? yes
    Size/weight: 40 pounds
    UTD on shots, including rabies: yes
    Overall health? good
    Housebroken? yes
    Does he get along with other dogs? yes
    Does he get along with cats?
    Does he get along with children? Good with quiet children
    Does he get along with Men? / Women? Yes, but happier with women
    Any behavior problems? Submissive, with no aggression
    Is a crate optional or mandatory? optional
    Items traveling – halter/collar/leash & a small bag of dog food included with his paperwork
    Saturday February 18th
    Leg 1 Filled! Thank you, Margie!
    Moyock, NC – Exmore, VA
    83 miles, 1 hr 30 min
    Leave 8:00am
    Arrive 9:30am
    Leg 2 NEEDED!
    Exmore VA – Snow Hill MD
    55 miles 1 hour 5 minutes
    Leave: 9:45 am
    Arrive: 10:50 am
    Leg 3 NEEDED!
    Snow Hill MD – Dover, DE
    80 miles, 1 hour 30 min
    Leave 11:00 am
    Arrive 12:30 pm
    Leg 4 NEEDED!
    Dover, DE – Woodbury Heights, NJ
    76 miles, 1 hr 20 min
    Leave 12:45 pm
    Arrive 2:05 am
    Leg 5 NEEDED!
    Woodbury Heights, NJ – East Windsor, NJ
    52 miles, 1 hour
    Leave 2:15 pm
    Arrive 3:15 pm
    Leg 6 – Filled! Thank you, Laura!
    East Windsor, NJ – Maspeth, NY
    65 miles, 1 hr 30 min
    Leave 3:30 pm
    Arrive 5:00 pm

    Sarabeth Gordon
    hpsarabeth@gmail.com
    Pensacola MESS Hall
    and
    Echo Dogs Volunteer Transport Coordinator

  58. Joan Says:

    Oh Sharon, I’m so sorry to hear of this tragic & unexpected loss. My thoughts are with you during this very difficult time.

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