Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 1803 India
This novel is, chronologically, the third novel in Cornwell's Sharpe series. The series extends to twenty-four novels. The novels follow the exploits of Richard Sharpe in the British Army, and how he advances through the ranks from soldier to sergeant to officer.
At the end of the previous novel, Sharpe was promoted from sergeant to ensign. In the British army of the nineteenth century there was a vast class difference between common soldiers and officers. Sharpe is looked down upon by the other officers. He can no longer fraternize with soldiers who once were his friends.
Along the way Sharpe has picked up some enemies. First there is the vile Sergeant Hakeswill. Hakeswill hates Sharpe and has tried to kill him several times. Then there is Colonel Dodd. Dodd is a traitor who Sharpe witnessed leading a massacre of British troops.
In this novel, Sharpe is dealing with being an ensign. He is also dealing with his superior officers who don't quite know what to do with him. He gets reassigned to a supply unit. There he makes an enemy of slovenly Captain Torrence and finds his old rival Sergeant Hakeswill.
The army is following the Raja's troops across the hot plains of India. The Indian forces eventually retreat into the fortress of Gawilghur. This fortress is considered to be impregnable. The British army must find a way to defeat the Indian forces within the fortress. And, Sharpe must find a way to get revenge from his enemies and survive the battle.
I am a big fan of Bernard Cornwell's novels. They are interesting and well plotted. Cornwell gives enough description so we can understand the setting and moves the plot along. In Sharpe, Cornwell has created a unique character. He is generally good, but isn't afraid to break the rules when needed.
I will definitely continue to read my way through the series.
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