Best-selling novelist Bernard Cornwell crafts a thrilling tale from his immensely popular Richard Sharpe series. In 1809 Lieutenant Sharpe and his riflemen are in Portugal, preparing for Napoleon’s next strike. The smaller English force will probably pull out before it’s too late, but not Sharpe. His orders are to find the missing daughter of an English wine shipper. Just as Sharpe and his men begin their mission, the French launch their punishing assault.
©2003 Bernard Cornwell (P)2003 Recorded Books
Sharpe's adventures are always entertaining, rich in historical detail, and good action-adventure. This particular story is a little below the usual high grade yarn Cornwell tells, but only a little. The climax is a modestly improbable in what does *not* happen to Sharpe (I am avoiding a spoiler). For much of this book, this story also takes Sharpe further from the actual historical events than is the norm for the series. The Sharpe series was originally a series of 11 books. They were sufficiently successful that some sequel and prequel books were written, plus a few (like this novel) that were shoe-horned in between the original volumes. This particular story is taking place in the spring of 1809, as French Marshal Soult conquers northern Portugal, and then prepares to move on to Lisbon with his seemingly unstoppable army of 25,000 veterans. The small British army is in Lisbon, commanded by General Cradock, perhaps waiting to embark on British shops and sail home. All of Portugal is ready to fall, and Soult is being encouraged to dream big dreams for his personal future. But of course, Soult never planned on Lieutenant Richard Sharpe, Sergeant Patrick Harper, and their fearsome dogs of war, their fellow refugees from the British 95th Rifles.
Unlike the original 11 books in the Sharpe series (I believe all read by Frederick Davidson), the narrator of this book neglects to read the closing "Historical Notes" provided by the author. For me, at least, it is always interesting to know when the story's done what was real history and what was fiction. I'm fortunate enough to have a hard cover version of the book, and so able to look this information up, after listening to the book in my car. I would strongly encourage Audible to include the "Historical Notes" of Cornwall's books.
I would not recommend this narrator to Americans. Very challenging to understand what the British narrator is saying. I was not able listen in the car because I would have to strain to catch every word and found myself having to rewind constantly. Eventually gave up and just read the book.
I have been listening to books on tape for over 20 years. Starting with audio tapes, then CD's and now downloads.
I am a huge Sharpe fan and have read or listened to all the books at least twice. I do notice that when Mr. Cornwell goes back to insert a battle into the original timeline the story is not as crips as before. Mr. Tull does a very fine job but once you listen to Mr. Davidson read, he is so very hard to beat. The story is good. What I am saying is if you have not heard all the other Sharpe stories, start with them and go back and insert these, as Mr. Cornwell did.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
As this book was written years after Sharpe's Rifles and Sharpe's Eagle it should fit nicely between the two and a few facts don't quite work well. Yes they mention his poor dead estrange wife and child, which are never mentioned in any of the other books besides Sharpe's Trafalgar, and Sharpe's Prey. He thinks about staying behind enemy lines to stay away from the army but the other books describes his longing for the army even though it can treat him with scorn. He knows Arthur Wellsley to talk without any reserve that he has in other books following and he doesn't have the self questioning manner that he has in his other books as he rises in rank. Otherwise, Sharpe gets into trouble, gets out of trouble, gets the bad guy and saves the girl in the end.
Much better than the last "new" Sharpe book, "Sharpe's Prey" that Mr. Cornwell wrote after finishing the series. Overall, this is just another Sharpe adventure; bloody battles, wealthy enemies on his same side, and a damsel in distress. Still, it is a good read and the story flows well.
The story is very interesting and the different characters intertwine to make a great story
Being alittle blood thristy I liked the end at the bridge
He is a great reader, sometimes alittle hard for American listeners but he does the parts very well
Yes, when the bridge gave way and the river filled to overflow with the dead civilians
I am hooked and plan to read more, the action is gripping the story interesting
I am a big fan of the Richard Sharpe stories and just finished with this one. I found the story to be entertaining as usual. The narrarator was excellent if the noise level was low. However when I was in my car, I had a hard time understanding him and had to constantly tweak my volume.
Cornwell's novels seldom disappoint. Patrick Tull is a treasure. If you have not heard his reading of the Aubrey–Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian, you are in for a treat.
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