Best-selling novelist Bernard Cornwell crafts a thrilling tale from his immensely popular Richard Sharpe series. In 1809 Lieutenant Sharpe and his riflemen are in Portugal, preparing for Napoleon’s next strike. The smaller English force will probably pull out before it’s too late, but not Sharpe. His orders are to find the missing daughter of an English wine shipper. Just as Sharpe and his men begin their mission, the French launch their punishing assault.
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Not Exactly Unabridged
Sharpe's adventures are always entertaining, rich in historical detail, and good action-adventure. This particular story is a little below the usual high grade yarn Cornwell tells, but only a little. The climax is a modestly improbable in what does *not* happen to Sharpe (I am avoiding a spoiler). For much of this book, this story also takes Sharpe further from the actual historical events than is the norm for the series. The Sharpe series was originally a series of 11 books. They were sufficiently successful that some sequel and prequel books were written, plus a few (like this novel) that were shoe-horned in between the original volumes. This particular story is taking place in the spring of 1809, as French Marshal Soult conquers northern Portugal, and then prepares to move on to Lisbon with his seemingly unstoppable army of 25,000 veterans. The small British army is in Lisbon, commanded by General Cradock, perhaps waiting to embark on British shops and sail home. All of Portugal is ready to fall, and Soult is being encouraged to dream big dreams for his personal future. But of course, Soult never planned on Lieutenant Richard Sharpe, Sergeant Patrick Harper, and their fearsome dogs of war, their fellow refugees from the British 95th Rifles.
Unlike the original 11 books in the Sharpe series (I believe all read by Frederick Davidson), the narrator of this book neglects to read the closing "Historical Notes" provided by the author. For me, at least, it is always interesting to know when the story's done what was real history and what was fiction. I'm fortunate enough to have a hard cover version of the book, and so able to look this information up, after listening to the book in my car. I would strongly encourage Audible to include the "Historical Notes" of Cornwall's books.
Hard to go back