The Sharpe Series (10) - Sharpe's Escape: The Bussaco Campaign, 1810

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9780007120147: The Sharpe Series (10) - Sharpe's Escape: The Bussaco Campaign, 1810

The twentieth instalment in the bestselling Sharpe series.

It is 1810 and the French are making yet another attempt to invade Portugal. Facing them is a wasted land, stripped of food by Wellington’s orders, and captain Richard Sharpe.

But Sharpe is in trouble. His job as Captain of the Light Company is under threat and he has made a new enemy, a Portuguese criminal known as Ferragus. Sharpe, discarded by his regiment, wages a private war against Ferragus – a war fought through the burning, pillaged streets of Coimbra, Portugal’s ancient university city. Sharpe’s enemies are numerous but on his side he has Sergeant Patrick Harper, the Portuguese officer Jorge Vincent and a prickly English governess, whose first aim is to clean up Sharpe’s language.

Sharpe’s Escape begins on the great, gaunt ridge of Bussaco where a joint British and Portuguese army meets the overwhelming strength of Marshall Massena’s crack troops. It finishes at Torres Vedras where the French hopes of occupying Portugal quickly die.

This is a classic Sharpe novel, with Richard Sharpe in his finest form reunited with Patrick Harper, and facing enemies on every side.

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Review:

There's no question that Bernard Cornwell's ever-growing magnum opus consists of his books featuring the doughty soldier Richard Shape, of which Sharpe's Escape is the 20th title. All the elements that aficionados look for in Cornwell's books are firmly and satisfyingly in place. The year is 1810, and the British Army is struggling against the confident French, who are assailing Portugal once again. As British soldiers cross into Spain, they find a hunger-ridden, depleted land. In the middle of the chaos is Captain of the Light Company, Richard Sharpe, who has found a new nemesis in Ferragus, a duplicitous Portuguese man well-connected with the French invaders. However, the battle between the two men takes a more dangerous turn, when Sharpe, no longer with his regiment, takes some unorthodox routes to prosecute his personal battle. With only his ex-colleague, the reliable Sergeant Harper and a Portuguese ally, Jorge Vicente, to help confront myriad enemies, the Sharpe/Ferragus duel is fought through the ruined streets of Coimbra and on to Lisbon, as Wellington mounts a coup de grace against the French.

Bernard Cornwell fans know what to expect: vivid scene-setting and pithy historical detail (never artificially freighted in, always comfortably ensconced), exhilarating action set-pieces, and (riding above it all) the larger-than-life figure of Richard Sharpe, realised with real bravura. --Barry Forshaw

Review:

‘The Richard Sharpe novels are notable for their wonderfully astringent view of history. Sharpe is a man first and a patriot second: he is as likely to pick a fight with one of his own side as charge blindly towards the enemy.' Sunday Telegraph

‘No one is better than Bernard Cornwell in describing battles large and small, howitzer fire, cavalry charges or bayonet attacks.' Evening Standard

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