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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sharpe's Prey by Bernard Cornwell

Genre: Historical Fiction

Setting: England and Denmark, 1807

First Sentence: Captain Henry Willsen of His Majesty's Dirty Half Hundred, more formerly the 50th Regiment of  West Kent, parried his opponent's saber.

This novel is Cornwell's fifth, chronologically, in his Sharpe series.

At the beginning of this novel, Lt. Richard Sharpe is in a deep depression.  He has lost the love of his life.  He has lost most of his possessions.  And, he has abandoned his duties as quartermaster of the 95th Rifles.

Although he is a good soldier, Sharpe still seeks the respect due to him as an Army officer.

As luck would have it, he encounters Sir David Baird.  Sir David is in need of a man like Sharpe.  In Sir David's words Sharpe is a thug - a hard bitten ruthless soldier who knows how to kill.

So Sharpe is off to Denmark.  His duty is to protect Captain John Lavisser and 43 thousand guineas of British gold.  Captain Lavisser is on a secret mission to try to bribe the Prince of Denmark to hand over the Danish fleet to prevent the French from obtaining it.

What the British government officials do not know is that Captain Lavisser is a traitor.  When he gets to Denmark, he intends to kill Sharpe and keep the gold for himself.  What Lavisser doesn't know is that  Sharpe is not an easy man to kill.

The plot follows Sharpe as he escapes death, rejoins the British forces, and seeks revenge against Lavisser.  Along the way, he meets and falls in love with the daughter of a Danish secret agent.

The British attack of Copenhagen provides the backdrop to the exciting climax.

Will the British succeed in taking the Danish fleet?
And will Sharpe once again prove that he is the ultimate English soldier?

In my opinion, this novel is a satisfactory episode in the life of Richard Sharpe.  Sharpe is a complicated hero.  At times, he is a hard bitten, lethal soldier.  At other times he can be a tender lover.  For me, this makes him a believable character.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next novel in the series.

Sharpe's Prey

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