[ Sharpe's Havoc: Richard Sharpe and the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809 By ( Author ) Mar-2004 Paperback
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One thing is as sure as death and taxes: that each successive Bernard Cornwell novel will be as exhilarating as its predecessor. Sharpe's Havoc continues the trend, demonstrating once again why the Richard Sharpe books by Cornwell are among the most cherished examples of historical derring-do around. While the novels are all assiduously detailed, with a precise sense of period, Cornwell knows how essential it is that his hero, the danger-prone Richard Sharpe, is as vividly characterised as ever. True to form, in Sharpe's Havoc we never lose sight of the character of the protagonist and the many members of the idiosyncratic supporting cast.
This time, we are taken to the spring of 1809 when a few British soldiers are stationed in Lisbon as Marshal Soult undertakes his assault on the garrison of Northern Portugal. It's not for Sharpe and his trusty crew of riflemen to dwell on the finer points of politics when they are sent into the city of Oporto to save the lives of two British women who have elected to stay. But when one of the women, Kate Savage, goes missing, Sharpe (along with Sergeant Patrick Harper and several battle-hardened colleagues) finds himself besieged in the city when the bridge over the river falls to the enemy. The English are forced on in a desperate journey back to the safety of the British encampment, but things become very murky when an enigmatic English officer informs them that they will be staying in the hellhole that is Northern Portugal.
Cornwell admirers will know exactly what to expect, and all the heady pleasures that distinguished such earlier books as Sharpe's Battle and Sharpe's Company are fully in place here, with the added impetus that comes from a notably picaresque narrative. All the central characters are drawn with the customary forcefulness, and instead of the expected tension and release that is the hallmark of most Cornwell novels, there's a steadily increasing excitement engendered here that leads to an all-stops-out finale. --Barry ForshawReview:
‘Sharpe and his creator are national treasures.' Sunday Telegraph
'Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation.' Daily Mail
'Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.' Observer
‘The best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present. Cornwell really makes history come alive.’ George R.R. Martin
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