Although written several years into his run of Richard Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell uses Sharpe’s Rifles to show us the first meeting between Lieutenant Richard Sharpe and Private (though not for long) Patrick Harper. Set during the retreat from Corunna, one of the British Army’s worst military defeats, the book centers upon our eponymous heroes and a rag-tag band of Riflemen from the 95th as they undertake a harebrained quest to assist a Spanish major fulfill a mission of great strategic importance. Cornwell checks the usual Sharpe boxes here: a woman who flirts with Sharpe but ultimately rejects him; copious action and mayhem when the French army enters the picture; daring escapes and dogged pursuits; and above all else, the scrappy Rifles officer’s habit of winning the day no matter what the cost. It’s fair to say that if you’ve read one Sharpe, you’ve read them all, and that is no bad thing. Fans of the series will appreciate getting more of the same. For those readers who are late to the party and want to see why this character has endured for decades, this is a great jumping-on point. You won’t be disappointed,
This is the start to the best series of historical fiction re: the 19th C. Wars ever written. Better than Hornblower and Aubrey, better than Soldiers 3. The prose is excellent, the characters compelling, the battle descriptions realistic yet interesting, and the descriptions of scenes are vivid. . I give this book and. the rest of the series my highest recommendation
If you are interested in good military history and like fictional characters in real battles, the Sharpe's series by Bernard Cornwell is outstanding. There are about 15 or 18 books in the series, starting when Private Richard Sharpe is an 17 year old private in the British Army in India in the late 1700, and follows him through battles in India, Trafalgar, Denmark, Portugal, Spain and eventually to the battle of Waterloo. Cornwell has done his research and us sticklers for realism can see he has the correct history of the battles, description of same, proper equipment, tactics, and armament. BBC did a 15 part mini-series which is available on DVD and well worth the watch. But be warned that the DVD series starts in Portugal and leaves out the first books on India where Sharpe is a private, makes sergeant, and finally makes ensign. In the series he is a lieutenant who, because he rose from the ranks and is disliked by the "proper" officers of aristocratic families who bought their commissiions, gets assigned to the 90th Rifles (Green Jackets) as no other snooty officer wants to be there (they don't like how slow the rifles load compared to muskets even though the Baker rifles have longer ranges and are more accurate than the Brown Bess muskets). But Sharpe drills his men until they are very combat effective. As a retired US Army infantry officer, and US Marine Vietnam vet, I really like this series. Only 10 more books to go! Cornwell, a former BBC producer, took his motivation for writing this series after reading the Hornblower series as a lad.
This book had me thinking about the characters while going about my day. Could not get them out of my head. Great book, well written and mostly gives an accurate picture of the times, and Napoleon's war in Spain. The hardships endured, the battles fought, all so very real and left me feeling I was part of it all. Fascinated wt Sharpe and Harper, and really liked Vivar as well. If you enjoy a really good historical novel filled wt great battle scenes, you'll relish this book as much as I did.
Well. That was exciting! I’ve read a number of Mr. Cornwell’s books so the quality of writing is no surprise. But I so love a good fighting story well told, with a human hero and faithful yet truculent sidekick; a winsome heroine is always nice, and, of course, vicious, sneering villains to cut down like the curs they are. Je suis content.
The French wanted it. And despite the lack of respect afforded a commoner who’d acquired his English army commission in battle, Lieutenant Richard Sharpe must find a way to get the strongbox to the place that its contents could unify the courage of the Spanish nation. First, though, Sharpe must turn his own men’s loyalty and respect into something he can count on as they, as well as his fellow officers, do not respect his acquired rank since they have not yet fought beside him under his command. Enemies abound, and even his allies do not automatically give or receive trust to scarred man whose uniform is not standard, not even much better than that worn by the men under his command.
Awesome! I first became aware of Richard Sharpe, and subsequently Bernard Cornwell, from the 1993 BBC Sharpe series. I have not seen all of them, only saw some last year. Nonethe!was I saw the last half of the eponymous first episode and was hooked. Then found the novels. I'm my opinion very slow going on the first half of the novel that is oriented around Sir John Moore's Retreat to Corunna. Some , including myself, may be utterly confused on the animosity and insubordination between Sharpe and Harper through most of the story. (Besides the ingrained animosity between English and Irish).