Bernard Cornwell's "Sharpe" series.

Sharpe's Havoc

2011-12-24 · in Books, Sharpe · 2 words

Bernard Cornwell, "Sharpe's Trafalgar"

2007-06-20 · in Books, Sharpe · 26 words

Exactly what it says -- so it's actually the book before the last one I read. (He fails to meet either Hornblower or Aubrey, sadly.)

Bernard Cornwell, "Sharpe's Prey"

2007-06-16 · in Books, Sharpe · 40 words

Sharpe vs. Copenhagen. That's about it.

I'm actually writing this nearly four years after the date above, and this book failed to stick in my memory -- although I did read an awful lot of Sharpe back in 2007!

Bernard Cornwell, "Sharpe's Tiger"

2007-06-09 · in Books, Sharpe · 45 words

First in a pile of newly-acquired Sharpe books. This is one of the India prequels that got mashed up into the "new" TV movie -- so this did the usual good job of filling in all the worldbuilding that I'd missed from the adaptation.

Bernard Cornwell, "Sharpe's Battle"

2006-09-10 · in Books, Sharpe · 71 words

It's a Sharpe book, and follows the standard pattern: a number of new characters are introduced; Sharpe strikes up an instant dislike for some of them; all is resolved in a huge battle in the last third of the book. I must have seen the TV adaptation of this, but I don't remember it being very similar to the novel at all. Recommended for those that like the series.

Bernard Cornwell, "Sharpe's Triumph"

2004-07-19 · in Books, Sharpe · 381 words

We're going to fight the Mahrattas, McCandless said. You know who they are?

I hear they're bastards, sir.

McCandless frowned at Sharpe's foul language. They are a confederation of independent states, Sharpe, he said primly, that dominate much of western India. They are also warlike, piratical and untrustworthy, except, of course, for those which are our allies, who are romantic, gallant and heroic.

I haven't been quite as lazy lately as it would appear from reading my reviews; it's just that the last four books I've started reading have been insufficiently gripping to prevent me from starting another one fairly quickly. This means that while I've done my normal amount of reading lately, it's not going to generate many reviews in the near future. Nonetheless, here's something I read a couple of weeks ago: the other Sharpe book that Claire gave me.

This is the first that I've read from the series that occurs early in the chronology: it's set in India in 1803, and records the events leading up to Sharpe's promotion from the ranks. It follows the same formula as the others I've read — the first two thirds of the book cover exposition and character introduction, and the final third describes a famous battle from Sharpe's perspective.

The military bits of the book are handled in much the same way as the books later chronologically in the series, with sensible pacing and enough detail to pull the reader into Sharpe's world. There's perhaps a bit more ambiguity over whether the people Sharpe's fighting are really evil, although the dramatic and barely-fictionalised events at the start of the book make it pretty clear that Dodd is — he's got his reasons — and Hakeswill manages to be as insidiously insane as he will be ten years later. I wasn't terribly impressed with Simone Joubert as a major character; she didn't seem especially interesting — other than as the only woman caught up in the story — and I was expecting her to play a larger part in the ending.

It's not the best instalment in the series that I've read so far, but it's certainly not bad, particularly for Sharpe fans who want to know how he first became an officer. It's certainly better than the other four books I'm still reading...

Bernard Cornwell, "Sharpe's Devil"

2004-06-18 · in Books, Sharpe · 272 words

Then why go to an enemy harbour? Sharpe asked.

To capture it, of course, why else? Cochrane looked at Sharpe as though the Rifleman was mad. We've got a ship, we've got men, we've got weapons, so what the hell else should we be doing?

But the ship's sinking!

Then the bloody ship might as well do something useful before it vanishes.

The year is 1820, five years after Waterloo; Sharpe and Harper leave their retirement to travel to Chile in search of a missing friend, paying a visit to Napoleon in exile on the way, and end up rather more involved in the civil war than they were expecting.

This is the first book after the stories that were adapted for TV, so it was interesting to read a Sharpe story where I didn't already know the basic plot. Stylistically it's much the same as the last one I read; the only difference here is that the interesting parts of the plot are set at sea rather than on land, following Lord Cochrane, the charismatic (and more than a little insane) Admiral of the Chilean rebel navy, as he successfully captures the forts at Valdivia. I couldn't help but feel that Cornwell really wanted to write a Hornblower novel rather than a Sharpe one; Cochrane and Sharpe get about equal time in the latter part of the book, but Cochrane's a sufficiently interesting character that this works well.

While Sharpe-fan friends of mine thought this wasn't a particularly good book, I didn't find much wrong with it; it's different from the earlier stories, but I still enjoyed it. Recommended.

Bernard Cornwell, "Sharpe's Eagle"

2004-05-26 · in Books, Sharpe · 345 words

The French! He had no more breath. Harper had disappeared. Sharpe hurdled a fire and ran full tilt into a Sergeant who held on to him and supported him as he gasped for breath.

What's happening, sir?

French column. Coming this way.

The Sergeant was bewildered. Why didn't the first line stop them?

Sharpe looked at him, astonished. You are the first line!

No one told us!

Claire gave me this book along with a load of others — thanks very much!

The series follows Richard Sharpe's rise through the ranks of the British army during the Napoleonic wars. In "Sharpe's Eagle", a monumentally stupid tactical decision from Sharpe's part-time nemesis Sir Henry Simmerson results in the loss of a regimental colour, and Sharpe is forced to restore the regiment's honour.

Having watched and enjoyed the ITV adaptations of the (earlier) Sharpe stories last year, I was curious to see how much they'd changed for this one. As I expected, there's a lot of detail in the books that's glossed over in the TV adaptation: for example, where we see Sharpe put his jacket on in the adaptation, we find out from the book that he's thinking how he'd rather wear his well-worn jacket and French boots than a new uniform, and that he's made sure to check his clothes for lice. The general feel of the storytelling is much the same, though, and knowing how things were going to turn out didn't spoil the book at all.

We're presented with a set of reasonably believable and likable characters — they do tend to be either good or irredeemably evil, although Sharpe doesn't really strike me as someone who sees the world in shades of grey — and the pacing's just right. It was perhaps a bit more obvious in the book that this story's really about how a single bad decision can have irreversible and extremely wide-ranging consequences in wartime.

I liked this, and I'm looking forward to reading more in the series; I've got some later books on my to-read pile at the moment.