Sunday, 21 June 2009

Bernard Cornwell: Starbuck Series

The Starbuck Chronicles are a series of historical fiction novels by British author Bernard Cornwell set during the American Civil War. They follow the exploits of a young Boston-born Confederate officer, Nathaniel Starbuck.
Four novels have been written; the series is still unfinished due to Cornwell doing other projects.[1]

Rebel (1993)
Copperhead (1994)
Battle Flag (1995)
The Bloody Ground (1996)

Plot overview
Rebel begins in Richmond, Virginia after the fall of Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina when Starbuck is trying to visit his friend Adam Faulconer. Starbuck is saved from an attack by Richmond's patriotic residents (who think he is a Yankee spy) by Faulconer's rich landowner father, Washington Faulconer. Faulconer wishes to raise a regiment to fight the Yankees, Starbuck is appointed one of Faulconer's aides with the rank of second lieutenant. He is there by circumstance not for politics. Starbuck is then tasked with recruiting a tough Mexican-American War veteran, Thomas Truslow who lives in the fictional Faulconer County, to the regiment, he succeeds only by dedicating the grave of Truslow's wife and officiating in the marriage of his wayward daughter Sally Truslow. Many other events occur between this and the start of the hostilities and the rather pompously named Faulconer Legion marches off to the First Battle of Bull Run. It is here that Starbuck alienates himself from Faulconer.
The next book, Copperhead, follows Starbuck during the period of the Union invasion of the Confederacy by the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan.
The third book, Battle Flag, is set in the aftermath of the defeat of McClellan.
The fourth book, The Bloody Ground, follows Starbuck as the Confederate army under Robert E. Lee invades the North, culminating in the Battle of Antietam Creek.
A supporting character in the series is Patrick Lassan, the son[2] of Richard Sharpe, the star of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series.

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I suppose that the most frequently asked question I get is "when will the next Starbuck book be published?" and it's my fault that I get asked it so often. The problem began when the Sharpe TV series was made and it seemed sensible (no, it WAS sensible) to write more Sharpe books - so I took Sharpe back to India and began what is really a whole new Sharpe series. And the trouble was that the Sharpe books are just a bit too much like the Starbuck books and I did not want to be writing two of those a year, and so I sent Nathaniel Starbuck on an extended vacation. I fear he is still enjoying that. So will there be more Starbuck books? I hope so, but I don't really know when (watch this space).

Title: Rebel Book 1
Nathaniel Starbuck stumbles into the Confederate army and finds himself at the first Bull Run

Title: Copperhead Book 2
Takes Nate Starbuck from Ball's Bluff to the bloody campaign in the peninsula, where the unregarded Robert Lee assumes command of the rebel army.

Title: Battle Flag Book 3
Starbuck goes back to Bull Run for the second battle

Title: The Bloody Ground Book 4
The horrors of Antietam

Suggestions for further reading

Author: Stephen W. Sears
I could not have written Copperhead without Stephen W. Sears's marvelous account of the Peninsular Campaign. Readers who want to know where the events in the novel coincide with the actuality of history could do no better than read Sears's work.

Book Title: RETURN TO BULL RUN, The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas
Author: John Hennessy
Readers who would like to know the true story of the confrontation across the Rapidan and Rappahannock should read this splendid account of the campaign. This book was constantly at my elbow as I wrote Battle Flag

Author: Stephen Sears
For anyone wanting to know more about the battle of Antietam (or Sharpsburg, to southerners), the bloodiest day in all of American history, this is the book to read. To my mind, this is the finest book on a single Civil War battle ever written

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