Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sharpe's Escape

The year is 1810 and the French are invading Portugal. Wellington gives Massena a bloody nose at the battle of Buçaco and then continues to retreat towards Lisbon and the defensive lines of Torres Vedras leaving a scorched land behind, stripped of all food and supplies. In the South Essex regiment, Captain Richard Sharpe loses the command of the light company in favour of Captain Slingsby, who just happens to be the Colonel's brother in law. This being a typical Sharpe book, our hero falls foul of a traitorous Portuguese major and his thuggish brother who are conspiring to sell food to the French army and then finds himself trapped behind enemy lines away from his company. Will he make it back alive in time to save the day? Well, what do *you* think ...

This book, although written recently, fits neatly into the established Sharpe chronology. Bernard Cornwall pays his usual close attention to historical realism, with the obvious exception of putting Sharpe and the fictional South Essex regiment in the middle of the two battles that book-end the story. Some familiar faces make a re-appearance and the usual compliment of battles, rank insubordination, fisticuffs, swordplay, incompetent officers and poor bloody infantry are all present and correct. There is a smidgeon of romance and a hint of bodice ripping to boot, but nothing to upset the horses. This book is an excellent slice of Napoleonic action that does exactly what it says on the tin.

1 comment:

Miss Natalie said...

I must add that to my 'books to read' list!

I love novels set in France and Italy over 1700's - 1800's