Sharpe's Havoc: Richard Sharpe and the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809 (Richard Sharpe Adventure)

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9780060566708: Sharpe's Havoc: Richard Sharpe and the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809 (Richard Sharpe Adventure)

The latest book in the brilliant, bestselling Sharpe series brings Sharpe to Portugal, and reunites him with Harper.

It is 1809 and Lieutenant Sharpe, who belongs to a small British army that has a precarious foothold in Portugal, is sent to look for Kate Savage, the daughter of an English wine shipper. But before he can discover the missing girl, the French onslaught on Portugal begins and the city of Oporto falls.

Sharpe is stranded behind enemy lines, but he has Patrick Harper, he has his riflemen and he has the assistance of a young, idealistic Portuguese officer. Together, they have to find the missing girl and extricate themselves from the entanglements cast by Colonel Christopher, a mysterious Englishman who has his own ideas on how the French can be ejected from Portugal. Those ideas are as fantastic as they are dangerous, but the French are rampant, Lisbon is threatened and Christopher sees Sharpe and his riflemen as the only obstacles to his subtle scheme.

But there is a newly arrived British commander in Lisbon, Sir Arthur Wellesley, and just when Sharpe and his men seem doomed, Sir Arthur mounts his own counter-attack, an operation that will send the French army reeling back into the northern mountains. Sharpe becomes a hunter instead of the hunted and he will exercise a dreadful revenge on the men who double-crossed him.

Sharpe's Havoc is a classic Sharpe story, a return to Portugal in the company of Sergeant Patrick Harper, Captain Hogan and Sharpe's beloved Greenjackets, who can turn a battle as fast as Cornwell's readers can turn a page.

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Review:

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 Forshaw

Review:

The 19th novel in the bestselling Sharpe series is set in 1809. Sharpe and his squad of riflemen, with Sergeant Patrick Harper, is in Oporto on the River Douro in northern Portugal, trying to rescue a British mother and her 19-year-old daughter. The daughter, Kate, disappears, and Sharpe has to find her, but is cut off when the bridge is broken. They join forces with a fugitive group of Portuguese soldiers in order to fight their way back to the British lines, but something happens which cancels their orders. Then Sir Arthur Wellesley arrives to take command in the south, and Sharpe breathes again. It is a great story, brilliantly told, which will undoubtedly sell well this coming spring, and is always lively and entertaining.

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