Key title The twentieth instalment in the bestselling Sharpe series.
Bernard Cornwell worked for BBC Television for seven years, mostly as a producer on the Nationwide programme, before taking charge of the Current Affairs department in Northern Ireland. In 1978 he became editor of Thames Television's Thames at Six. Married to an American, he now lives in the United States.
The prolific Cornwell is the author of numerous historical novels dealing with the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the medieval era. His most famous series, however, chronicles the military adventures of Richard Sharpe and has often been compared to Patrick O'Brian's maritime novels for its attention to plot and character. In this, the 20th volume of the Sharpe series, Captain Sharpe and his redoubtable Irish sidekick, Sergeant Harper, are in Portugal. The year is 1810. Sharpe has been cut off from his own men, the result of a trap laid by his enemies among the Portuguese. Encountering incompetent officers and vindictive, scheming civilians while rescuing frightened young ladies, he finally confronts all his enemies in a climactic battle. A worthy entry in the Sharpe series, this book will be eagerly anticipated by Cornwell's many readers. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/03; a BOMC selection, the first Sharpe novel to be so chosen.-Ed.]-Fred Gervat, formerly with Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
'The Richard Sharpe novels are notable for their wonderfully astringent view of history. Sharpe is a man first and a patriot second: he is as likely to pick a fight with one of his own side as charge blindly towards the enemy.' Sunday Telegraph 'No one is better than Bernard Cornwell in describing battles large and small, howitzer fire, cavalry charges or bayonet attacks.' Evening Standard
"So Sharpe and Harper will march again." Thus ended Sharpe's Havoc, the previous (19th) volume in Cornwell's series, and Sharpe aficionados will rejoice that the prophecy has been fulfilled. In September of 1810, just before repulsing the French army on the bare slopes of Bussaco ridge in central Portugal, Captain Sharpe is forced to take Lieutenant Slingsby, Colonel Lawford's arrogant, heavy-drinking brother-in-law, under his wing. Sharpe then stumbles into a confrontation with Ferragus, the malevolent brother of their treacherous Portuguese ally, Major Ferreira, whom he catches illegally hoarding flour to sell to the enemy. Sharpe is soon ambushed by the cowardly Ferragus and barely escapes with his life. The much abused captain is further humiliated when, despite Slingsby's poor performance at Bussaco, Lawford puts him in charge of the troops, then has the effrontery to reprimand Sharpe for refusing to apologize for insulting the fool. When the French find a way to flank them, the British retreat through Coimbra, where Sharpe and Harper, Sharpe's right-hand man, find themselves lured into a trap. Sharpe's old friend, Portuguese captain Vicente, and a young English governess come to Sharpe's rescue just in time for Sharpe to save his battalion, exacting retribution on his enemies in a resoundingly satisfactory denouement. With fully fleshed-out characters and keen human insight, Cornwell just keeps getting better. His faithful will be left hoping Sharpe goes on forever. (Apr. 1) Forecast: With Master and Commander fresh in readers' minds, now is the time for booksellers to recommend Cornwell to Patrick O'Brian fans. This is the first Sharpe novel to be offered by the Book-of-the-Month Club, and it promises to build on the success of previous installments. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.