The books

Who is the author anyway?

The Chevalier series is presented as a set of contemporary documents translated from the original French by historian Edward Morton. The story is told through letters, memoirs, a diary, and most of all through transcripts of interviews conducted by the Abbé Fleuriot with those who knew André de Roland personally.

In this sense the series is really written by its characters – among them a priest, a stable boy, a tanner, a blacksmith, a merchant’s son, a soldier and an adolescent girl. It’s their story, and only their voices are allowed to tell it, but it’s sadly true they are not equally or consistently reliable. One at least of these characters is a liar, one a victim of self-delusions, one is prepared to distort appearances to make himself look better, one is determined to present the most respectable account for posterity, one is sometimes blinded by loyalty, another by political prejudice, and the last by innocence. We can only know what they choose to tell us, although it may sometimes be possible to read between the lines...

In another sense, the author is perhaps the Abbé Fleuriot, the young churchman who’s so painstakingly gathered all this material together for reasons we can as yet only guess at. I think perhaps Stefan Ravel knows – there’s one line in his last section of Honour and the Sword that suggests he’s seen more in his interviewer than he’s saying. We can’t really know any more than that, since the Abbé has yet to speak a single line on his own account, but perhaps one day that will change...

For today’s reader, the real author must surely be the editor, Edward Morton. He’s the Cambridge scholar who has translated Fleuriot’s documents and presented them for publication with an explanatory note of his own. His own style is rather pompously academic, and I rather enjoy the image of him laboriously translating Stefan’s 17th century expletives into good old Anglo-Saxon equivalents. Making sense of the historical world of Honour and the Sword is clearly a passion for him.

But the truth is more prosaic. Morton and Fleuriot, Jacques, Stefan, Anne and the rest are all very real in the book – but by practical standards, they don’t exist. The person behind them all is someone called A.L. Berridge.

A.L. Berridge read English at Oxford, and taught for ten years before moving into television, where her production credits range from period drama and thrillers to long-running soap. Having told stories for other people all her life, she now lives in St Albans and writes full time. Honour and the Sword is her first novel, reflecting a lifelong passion for history.

For more about A.L. Berridge and the inspiration behind the Chevalier series, you can visit her website here.