Genre: Historical Fiction, Military Fiction
Setting: Portugal, Spring 1809
First Sentence: Miss Savage was missing.
In chronological order, this novel is the seventh in Cornwell's Sharpe series.
Richard Sharpe entered the British Army as a regular soldier. When he saved the life of Sir Arthur Wellesley he was given a commission as a lieutenant. In the British army of the nineteenth century commissions were usually purchased by wealthy families for their sons. Very few soldiers every made the jump from soldier to officer. Those who did were usually looked down upon by the other officers, and treated with disrespect by the soldiers under their command. So Sharpe has had to continuously fight for the respect he deserves.
In this novel, Sharpe and his men are in Oporto, Portugal fighting the French. Sharpe has been ordered to find Kate Savage, the daughter of a rich wine maker. Operating behind enemy lines, must first battle their way out of Oporto as the French forces move in. Then, they need to find their way to the small village where Kate is believed to be. As they travel across country they need to avoid the French.
When they find Kate they discover that she has eloped to marry a British officer. The officer orders Sharpe to defend the village from the French. While protecting Kate, Sharpe learns some distressing facts about Kate's husband.
Eventually Sharpe's squad has to fight their way back to Oporto where they meet up with the British army. In the end, an intelligence officer orders Sharpe to provide a final solution to the problems Kate's husband has been causing.
This novel is an action packed military adventure story. Cornwell's descriptions of the battles are exciting and realistic. For me, this novel was a well written page turner that was hard to put down.