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Sharpe's Battle (2013)

Sharpe's Battle (2013)

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4.11 of 5 Votes: 1
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0060932287 (ISBN13: 9780060932282)
harper paperbacks

About book Sharpe's Battle (2013)

First read 27 Jan 2009: Love the battle, tactics, camaraderie, and the history. Twelfth in the Richard Sharpe historical military fiction series revolving around Captain Richard Sharpe in the Peninsular War in May of 1811.My TakeOne of the subplots has Sharpe facing off with General Loup while the primary theme is sabotage. A weakening of one's enemy through subterfuge.Harper is such a crackup with his little ways of distracting Sharpe when he's angry or frustrated. This time he keeps telling stories of how one or another of his relatives loses things. Cornwell has really created a nasty character in General Loup and I do love how Sharpe snarks at Loup! I don't care how badly the partisans treat the soldiers, you just don't treat children this way. And considering how the French normally treat everyone, heck, I think the French are getting off light. I liked the reference Cornwell throws in about Agincourt. A lovely bit of up yours!Throughout the stories about the Peninsular War so far, Cornwell has included a description of the French Republican ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood ascribing these values as reasons why the afrancesadoes and others support the French invasion. Their reasons vary but boil down to intellectuals who see that the time for blood to dictate life and policy is over and a merit-based system would be preferred, the poor who are tired of being trampled on, and those who see violent change as an opportunity for their own advancement.From an American perspective, it's easy to empathize with these ideals especially when Cornwell presents the evils of the British Army's method of promotion! And their aristocracy's notions of officer suitablility...oh, brother. But Cornwell easily presents those principles only to demolish them through the French style of waging war. I find myself curious if Wellington's insistence on paying his army's way across countries is a first in warfare?From the dedication, I assume this particular installment was specifically written by Cornwell for the television series.The StoryIt's May 1811 and 40 men in Sharpe's company march to supplement the undermanned South Essex as a guard unit in Vilar Formoso. As you can imagine, Sharpe is quite depressed about this upcoming duty and inclined to take it out on the French soldiers who have raped and massacred a village right down to the babies and are just finishing up their "work" by raping the one woman they haven't yet killed. But Sharpe's idea of justice in one with which General Loup disagrees. Strongly. So strongly, that Loup vows to take Sharpe down.That's the easy part. The difficult task is coping with the Real Compañía Irlandesa. A royal household guard supposedly sent by the Spanish via the French to supplement Wellington's army. Right. It's a balancing act between being seen to honor the Real Compañía Irlandesa to curry favor with General Valverde---Wellington needs Valverde's nod to become Generalisimo and the head of the allied armies---and being nasty enough to the Irlandesa that they choose to go off to Cadiz even as he susses out their secrets. For Hogan and Wellington know full well that the company is simply a cover for French sabotage in the middle of the British Army.The powers-that-be determine that the best way to tick off the Real Compañía Irlandesa is assigning them to Sharpe's tender teachings. They couldn't ask for a better teacher nor could Sharpe possibly find a company in more desperate need of his abilities and compassion.Tucked away in Fort San Isidro for isolate this potential disaster, Sharpe does his best to strengthen them in spite of the betrayals, bitter attacks, and the determination of the High Command to get rid of the Irlandesa. Lord knows, Sharpe resorts to some pretty radical techniques to build morale! Shoot the officers. Hatch a gruesome plan with El Castrador. Logic.The enemy uses betrayal, forgery, and propaganda.The CharactersCaptain Richard Sharpe is between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand Wellington wants Sharpe to destroy the Irlandesa and on the other Sharpe just can't bear to destroy men who are not involved in the betrayal. His men include Sergeant Patrick Harper, an Ulsterman from Donegal; Lieutenant Harry Price; Daniel Hagman, the oldest man in the regiment and a former poacher from Cheshire; Thompson; Cooper; Harris, a former schoolteacher; Perkins, the youngest; Green; Horrell; McDonald; Cresacre; Smith; Sergeant Latimer; and, Corporal Jackson.Miranda is the woman they rescued from Loup's men.Teresa Moreno, a.k.a., La Ajuga (The Needle), is out fighting the French with her guerilla band. El Castrador, a.k.a., the Castrator, leads another band of partisans that castrates any Frenchmen they find. Of whom, Sharpe makes a very peculiar request. Strictly for morale, of course.Major Michael Hogan is the head of Wellington's Intelligence services. Arthur Wellesley is now Viscount Wellington and the General Marshal of Portugal's army and commander of the British forces in Portugal. He desperately needs to be placed in charge of all the allied armies. And sucking up to the Spanish is a necessity. General Don Luis Valverde is the junta's official observer and it is his recommendation that will determine if Wellesley is appointed Generalisimo. Major Alexander Tarrant with his sidekicks, Gog and Magog, a.k.a., Privates Hughes and Hughes, are in charge of Wellington's ammunition and getting it delivered where needed.Real Compañía Irlandesa, His Most Catholic Majesty's household guard, commanded by the drunk and dissolute Lord Kiely, an earl and the only Irish aristocrat in Spain, is being sent to supplement Wellington's army. Father Sarsfield is the Irlandesa's chaplain with a surprising sense of humor. The men of the Irlandesa includes Sergeant Major Noonan and Captain Donaju who is the real military expert commanding the Irlandesa. Colonel Runciman is the British liaison between Wellington and the Irlandesa. Wellington and Hogan see him as the ultimate scapegoat and, initially, one looks forward to his "execution" as bigoted as Cornwell paints him but towards the end, my opinion changed.Colonel Oliveira with Captain Tom Garrard and their Portuguese battalion are the babysitters. Brigadier General Guy Loup of the Brigade Loup, a.k.a., the Wolf Brigade, is a terrorist. His mission is to terrify the partisans into keeping to themselves and not killing French soldiers from ambush. Seems it's all right for the French to terrorize but they don't like having it done to them. Major Pierre Ducos is the emperor's spy and an even nastier man than Loup. Doña Juanita de Elia is well-born but with the character of a whore; it's said that she collects one uniform from the regiment of every man she's slept with and that she has tailored them to fit her form. She sees herself as an adventuress and a Spaniard who would prefer the French in power and she wears her uniforms whenever she can. She's using Lord Kiely as a way in to the British Army.The CoverThis is a new style of cover for this series. It has the feel of a watercolor painting: a rocky stream bordered by trees, a manor house in the background suffused with an orangey yellow sky as two men fight amongst the rocks.The title proclaims Sharpe's Battle against the Loup, France's best soldier.

Sharpe is a captain who has come up through the ranks and is now attached to the" green jackets," riflemen attached to the Light Division. Reviewers have lauded Cornwell's realistic portrayal of the period. I am in no position to judge, but it certainly seems real enough. The characters are well-developed, humorous, and likeable. Cornwell's description of Wellington' s defense at Fuentes de Orono, a battle that if lost might have spelled doom for the British, is marvelous. I never really understood the power of the "square," how it moved and was used successfully as an almost impenetrable barrier to cavalry, until I read Cornwell's narrative. The square could form almost instantly through a series of intricate maneuvers from a marching column. Its power against cavalry came from the massive firepower its leaders coordinated. It was susceptible to mounted artillery so it was protected by sharpshooters who picked off the horses and artillerymen who tried to venture close enough to deliver the lethal canister. When the cavalry withdrew in frustration after a futile charge, the square would reform into columns and continue marching until again threatened by the cavalry's charge. It took months of practice and steady commanders to perform the intricate maneuvers while loading muskets, a complicated process itself The story revolves around Sharpe's encounter with some of the French General Loup's troops, who have raped some Spanish villagers. Loup rides up under a flag of truce demanding his men back. Sharpe, backed up by his riflemen, refuse s and has two summarily shot. Loup swears revenge, a retaliation that leads to the death of 400 Portugue se allies, for which Sharpe is perhaps correctly picked to take the blame. The story has everything: traitors, a beautiful spy, dunderheaded leaders and brilliant generals. It's a ripping good read that vividly brings home the horror of warfare in the early nineteenth century.

Do You like book Sharpe's Battle (2013)?

My sixth Sharpe book was predictable but loved all the same.May 1911, Sharpe is in Spain and making enemies again. This time with Brigidier General Loup, the bane of the Spanish partisans. During Sharpe's quest to bring Loup to justice and thanks to politics he has been given the task of training the Spanish King's ceremonial guard. With someone trying to get the Irish to revolt within Wellington's army and the seemingly impossible task of winning the next battle, Sharpe must use all his soldiering instinct to survive.I feel the need to quip 'if you've read one Sharpe book you've read them all' but I still want to read the entire series.

Alright, this is book #12 chronologically in the series so let's dispense with the standard boilerplate review openings and get to the good stuff. Sharpe's Battle is one of the books that was added to the series later but inserted in between the existing titles chronologically. As previously stated, I personally find these to be much better written and more keenly polished. Sharpe's Battle is no exception. In fact it's one of the better reads since Sharpe left India. The problem with keeping to a certain formula is that things begin to get stale, especially if your like me and read 3-4 of these at a time. The problem with straying from said formula is that you run the risk of ruining a good thing. Bernard Cromwell strikes the perfect balance with this installment. There's no love interest, no scheming officer intent on ruining Sharpe's career and no get out of jail free card this time around. We also see an old face make an appearance, something the series has sometimes lacked but it gives a nice feeling of cohesiveness to the overall story of Sharpe. In short, if your a fan of the series there's no reason to stop here. If you've gotten a little jaded from the repetitive themes spanning the series thus far, Sharpe's Battle is just what you need to get started again and to remind you of why you fell in love with the series to begin with.

This is a solid continuation of the Sharpe story. It's a particularly bloody part of the war in which Sharpe must train and lead a group of Spanish Royal guardsmen, toy soldiers more fit for parade and ceremony than for actual battle. The leadership of the army set it up to fail in attempt to get rid of the unit, but Sharpe whips them into shape and ends up taking on a particular brutal group of French.One of the things that stands out about this particular novel is the increasing effectiveness of Sharpe as a leader. Born in the gutters and starting out in the ranks of the British army, but this novel he's a brevet captain and leadership has started to come naturally and easy. There a lot to be learned about real leadership from Sharpe and the contrast to many others of the novels' characters.
—Jeff Yoak

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