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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sharpe's Rifles by Bernard Cornwell

Genre: Historical Fiction

Setting: Spain, 1809

First Sentence: The prize was a strong box.

As of March 2014 there are 23 books in Cornwell's Sharpe series.  By publication date, this is the ninth book of the series.  In chronological order of Sharpe's life, this is the sixth novel.  Each installment of the series is a stand-alone novel so they can be read in any order.

Lieutenant Richard Sharpe gets little respect.  He earned his commission through an act of bravery.  Unlike his fellow officers, who despise him, he was not born into wealth.  The soldiers under him do not respect him because they know he was once a common soldier.

In this novel, Sharpe commands a detachment of the 95th Rifles.  They are fighting the French in Spain.  When the British troops are ambushed by the France, Sharpe and his men are cut off from the main body of the British.  Sharpe must find a way to get his squad back to British held territory.

This is Sharpe's first command position.  Previously, superior officers had placed Sharpe in non-command  positions.  Sharpe was a good sergeant, but now he needs to learn how to command men.

Sharpe finds an unexpected ally in Major Blas Vivar.  Vivar is a Spanish officer.  He and his soldiers are protecting a valuable Spanish treasure.  Major Vivar enlists Sharpe's aid in delivering the treasure to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela.  Along the way, Vivar helps Sharpe earn the respect of the soldiers in his command.

This novel is an action-packed military adventure.  There are rousing scenes of battle.  There are gritty descriptions of army life in the  early nineteenth century.  And , of course, there is the mighty Richard Sharpe.

For me, this novel was a great page turning adventure tale.

Some of the books in the Sharpe Series:



  1. The Sharpe series is wonderful in that it carries the reader through some twenty years, from service in India, through the Peninsular War and Waterloo, right up to the war of liberation in Chile afterwards. It's no essential to read the 's career develops.Having seen some of the better TV adaptations (all had budgets that were too small) helps also - Sean Bean is wholly convincing and unforgettable as Sharpe.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I really enjoy all of Cornwell's novels.