Sharpe, now a Sergeant, finds himself alongside Sir Arthur Wellesley at the terrifying Battle of Assaye. In later life Sir Arthur (who became, of course, the first Duke of Wellington), always reckoned Assaye was his finest achievement. During the battle he very nearly died, or certainly had his closest escape in a fight, and Sharpe, naturally, is there. The ‘villain’ in this book (apart from Hakeswill) is Anthony Pohlmann, a cheerful Hanoverian rogue who began life as a mercenary ranker and became one of India’s most successful generals.Read More...
I began writing Sharpe in 1980 and he’s still going strong. I never thought there would be this many books – I imagined there might be ten or eleven – but then along came Sean Bean and the television programmes and I virtually began a whole new Sharpe series.
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The first of Richard Sharpe’s Indian adventures, pitting him against the sinister Tippoo Sultan in the siege of Seringapatam, 1799. Like most of the Sharpe novels this one is based on a real campaign, and almost all of the actions described in the book really did take place. Sharpe begins this novel as a private and his worst enemy is not the Tippoo, nor even the Tippoo’s professional strongmen who had interesting ways of putting prisoners to death, but Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill who will continue to harass Sharpe all through the Indian novels.Read More...
Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro, May 1811
This, like Sharpe’s Rifles, was written at the request of the TV producers, though I can’t remember why they wanted this one. It tells the ghastly tale of the battle of Fuentes d’Onoro, a bloody struggle on the Portuguese frontier which deteriorated into a gutter fight in the narrow alleys of a small village. It was a French defeat, but they still chiselled it into the Arc de Triomphe as a victory – I guess they were short of victories so just added a few defeats to make up the numbers.
Sharpe, at last, meets Napoleon. I was worried about this, but it’s probably the best passage in the book (and right at the beginning, which is a bad thing). Sharpe then goes on to meet Lord Cochrane, the ‘sea devil’ who was the inspiration for C.S. Forester’s Hornblower and for Patrick O’Brien’s Jack Aubrey.Read More...
The story of the battle – and Sharpe’s part in it. For some reason this was published in the US as, simply, Waterloo. There’s almost no plot in this book because there doesn’t need to be (though Sharpe does have to settle accounts with the man who poached his second wife). The story of the battle is so dramatic, so unlikely and so full of suspense that fiction is scarcely needed. Nevertheless the book does suggest that perhaps it was not the enemy who shot the Prince of Orange. It also made a very good video.