Sharpe's Escape (Sharpe Series #10) by Bernard Cornwell, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Sharpe's Escape (Sharpe Series #10)

Sharpe's Escape (Sharpe Series #10)

4.3 31
by Bernard Cornwell

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It is 1810, and in Napoleon's determination to conquer Portugal — and push the British back to the sea — he sends his largest army yet across the Spanish frontier. But between the Portuguese border and Napoleon's seemingly certain victory are two obstacles — a wasted land, stripped of food by Wellington's orders, and Captain Richard Sharpe.


It is 1810, and in Napoleon's determination to conquer Portugal — and push the British back to the sea — he sends his largest army yet across the Spanish frontier. But between the Portuguese border and Napoleon's seemingly certain victory are two obstacles — a wasted land, stripped of food by Wellington's orders, and Captain Richard Sharpe.

But Sharpe is in trouble. The captain of the Light Company is threatened from inside and out: First by an incompetent British officer, who by virtue of family connections is temporarily given Sharpe's command. An even greater danger is posed by two corrupt Portuguese brothers — Major Ferreira, a high-ranking officer in the army of Portugal, and his brother, nicknamed "Ferragus" (after a legendary Portuguese giant), who prefer to rule by crude physical strength and pure intimidation. Together the brothers have developed a devious plot to ingratiate themselves with the French invaders who are threatening to become Portugal's new rulers.

Sharpe's interference in the first stage of their plan earns the undying enmity of the brothers. Ferragus vows revenge and plots a merciless trap that seems certain to kill Sharpe and his intimates. As the city of Coimbra is burned and pillaged, Sharpe and his companions plot a daring escape, ensuring that Ferragus will follow on toward Lisbon, into the jaws of a snare laid by Wellington that is meant to be a daring and ingenious last stand against the invaders. There, beneath the British guns, Sharpe is reunited with his shattered but grateful company, and meets his enemies in a thrilling and decisive fight.

Performed by Patrick Tull

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
“An altogether rousing tale of revenge and derring-do....Cornwell’s cinematically detailed battle pieces [are] literal tours de force.”
Michael Dirda
It's dryly witty, violent, highly melodramatic, briskly written and an altogether rousing tale of revenge and derring-do.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
"So Sharpe and Harper will march again." Thus ended Sharpe's Havoc, the previous (19th) volume in Cornwell's series, and Sharpe aficionados will rejoice that the prophecy has been fulfilled. In September of 1810, just before repulsing the French army on the bare slopes of Bussaco ridge in central Portugal, Captain Sharpe is forced to take Lieutenant Slingsby, Colonel Lawford's arrogant, heavy-drinking brother-in-law, under his wing. Sharpe then stumbles into a confrontation with Ferragus, the malevolent brother of their treacherous Portuguese ally, Major Ferreira, whom he catches illegally hoarding flour to sell to the enemy. Sharpe is soon ambushed by the cowardly Ferragus and barely escapes with his life. The much abused captain is further humiliated when, despite Slingsby's poor performance at Bussaco, Lawford puts him in charge of the troops, then has the effrontery to reprimand Sharpe for refusing to apologize for insulting the fool. When the French find a way to flank them, the British retreat through Coimbra, where Sharpe and Harper, Sharpe's right-hand man, find themselves lured into a trap. Sharpe's old friend, Portuguese captain Vicente, and a young English governess come to Sharpe's rescue just in time for Sharpe to save his battalion, exacting retribution on his enemies in a resoundingly satisfactory denouement. With fully fleshed-out characters and keen human insight, Cornwell just keeps getting better. His faithful will be left hoping Sharpe goes on forever. (Apr. 1) Forecast: With Master and Commander fresh in readers' minds, now is the time for booksellers to recommend Cornwell to Patrick O'Brian fans. This is the first Sharpe novel to be offered by the Book-of-the-Month Club, and it promises to build on the success of previous installments. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The prolific Cornwell is the author of numerous historical novels dealing with the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the medieval era. His most famous series, however, chronicles the military adventures of Richard Sharpe and has often been compared to Patrick O'Brian's maritime novels for its attention to plot and character. In this, the 20th volume of the Sharpe series, Captain Sharpe and his redoubtable Irish sidekick, Sergeant Harper, are in Portugal. The year is 1810. Sharpe has been cut off from his own men, the result of a trap laid by his enemies among the Portuguese. Encountering incompetent officers and vindictive, scheming civilians while rescuing frightened young ladies, he finally confronts all his enemies in a climactic battle. A worthy entry in the Sharpe series, this book will be eagerly anticipated by Cornwell's many readers. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/03; a BOMC selection, the first Sharpe novel to be so chosen.-Ed.]-Fred Gervat, formerly with Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cornwell's excellent long-running Sharpe series (Sharpe's Havoc, 2003, etc.) takes the soldiers' soldier to real-life battles around Bussaco and Coimbra, Portugal. Having imposed Napoleonic and imperial peace everywhere else in Europe, the Corsican monster has sent his troops to sew up what remains unconquered on the Iberian Peninsula. But, zut!, the Portuguese will not roll over. Lord Wellington-on his way to that Iron Dukedom-has dug in for the long haul, contrary to the French and occasional Portuguese belief that the English will cut and run for their ships when things get the least bit tough. Wellington's forces have secretly constructed a series of forts and battlements that extend from the Tagus River to the Atlantic, completely protecting Lisbon and its monarch. He has also instituted a scorched earth policy throughout the countryside, ordering the destruction of every bit of food and provision that might allow the French to dig in and stay. While carrying out those orders near the university city of Coimbra, Captain Sharpe encounters the treacherous Ferreira brothers, one a turncoat officer, the other a hulking sadist with a thriving business in slaves and prostitutes. The Ferreiras have been caught with a stash they were planning to sell to the Frogs, and when Sharpe puts the supplies to the torch he incurs the murderous wrath of Ferragus, the criminal kingpin, a fury that will plague the captain every bit as much as the Emperor's armies. Further complication comes from the awful Lieutenant Slingsby, a minor county boozer who cynically married the pregnant sister-in-law of Sharpe's commanding officer and now expects to move into Sharpe's position. Everything comes to a boil inCoimbra, where Ferragus has a warehouse secretly stuffed with enough supplies to keep the French fed for a good long siege of Lisbon and where Sharpe falls into a trap laid by the brute. He will emerge with the assistance of a clever Portuguese chum and a spunky English governess. Another good one. Agent: Toby Eady/Toby Eady Associates
People Magazine
"Prepare to have your buckles swashed."
“Prepare to have your buckles swashed.”
Wall Street Journal
“Richard Sharpe has the most astounding knack for finding himself where the action is…and adding considerably to it.”
Washington Post
“Perhaps the greatest writer of historical adventure novels today.”
Los Angeles Times
“Presents to the contemporary reader an important part of history that Americans know little about.”
Michael Dirda in The Washington Post
“An altogether rousing tale of revenge and derring-do....Cornwell’s cinematically detailed battle pieces [are] literal tours de force.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sharpe Series, #10
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sharpe's Escape

By Bernard Cornwell

Thorndike Press

Copyright © 2004 Bernard Cornwell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0786266902

Chapter One

Mister Sharpe was in a bad mood. A filthy mood. He was looking for trouble in Sergeant Harper's opinion, and Harper was rarely wrong about Captain Sharpe, and Sergeant Harper knew well enough not to engage his Captain in conversation when Sharpe was in such a black temper, but on the other hand Harper liked to live dangerously. "I see your uniform's been mended, sir," he said cheerily.

Sharpe ignored the comment. He just marched on, climbing the bare Portuguese slope under the searing sun. It was September 1810, almost autumn, yet the heat of late summer hammered the landscape like a furnace. At the top of the hill, another mile or so ahead of Sharpe, stood a barn-like stone building next to a gaunt telegraph station. The station was a black timber scaffolding supporting a high mast from which signaling arms hung motionless in the afternoon's heat.

"It's a rare nice piece of stitching on that jacket," Harper went on, sounding as though he did not have a care in the world, "and I can tell you didn't do it yourself. It looks like a woman's work, so it does?" He inflected the last three words as a question.

Sharpe still said nothing. His long, straight-bladed cavalry sword banged against his left thigh as he climbed. He had a rifle slung on his shoulder. An officer was notsupposed to carry a longarm like his men, but Sharpe had once been a private and he was used to carrying a proper gun to war.

"Was it someone you met in Lisbon, now?" Harper persisted.

Sharpe simmered, but pretended he had not heard. His uniform jacket, decently mended as Harper had noticed, was rifle green. He had been a rifleman. No, he still thought of himself as a rifleman, one of the elite men who carried the Baker rifle and wore the dark green instead of the red, but the tides of war had stranded him and a few of his men in a redcoat regiment and now he commanded the light company of the South Essex who were following him up the hill. Most wore the red jackets of the British infantry and carried smoothbore muskets, but a handful, like Sergeant Harper, still kept their old green jackets and fought with the rifle.

"So who was she?" Harper finally asked.

"Sergeant Harper," Sharpe was finally goaded into speaking, "if you want bloody trouble then keep bloody talking."

"Yes, sir," Harper said, grinning. He was an Ulsterman, a Catholic and a sergeant, and as such he was not supposed to be friends with an Englishman, a heathen and an officer, but he was. He liked Sharpe and knew Sharpe liked him, though he was wise enough not to say another word. Instead he whistled the opening bars of the song "I Would That the Wars Were All Done."

Sharpe inevitably thought of the words that accompanied the tune; "In the meadow one morning, all pearly with dew, a fair pretty maiden plucked violets so blue," and Harper's delicate insolence forced him to laugh aloud. He then swore at the Sergeant, who was grinning with triumph. "It was Josefina," Sharpe admitted.

"Miss Josefina now! How is she?"

"She's well enough," Sharpe said vaguely.

"I'm glad to hear that," Harper said with genuine feeling. "So you took tea with her, did you, sir?"

"I took bloody tea with her, Sergeant, yes."

"Of course you did, sir," Harper said. He walked a few paces in silence, then decided to try his luck again. "And I thought you were sweet on Miss Teresa, sir?"

"Miss Teresa?" Sharpe said, as though the name were quite unknown to him, though in the last few weeks he had hardly stopped thinking about the hawk-faced girl who rode across the frontier in Spain with the partisan forces. He glanced at the Sergeant, who had a look of placid innocence on his broad face. "I like Teresa well enough," Sharpe went on defensively, "but I don't even know if I'll ever see her again!"

"But you'd like to," Harper pointed out.

"Of course I would! But so what? There are girls you'd like to see again, but you don't behave like a bloody saint waiting for them, do you?"

"True enough," Harper admitted. "And I can see why you didn't want to come back to us, sir. There you were, drinking tea while Miss Josefina's sewing, and a fine time the two of you must have been having."

"I didn't want to come back," Sharpe said harshly, "because I was promised a month's bloody leave. A month! And they gave me a week!"

Harper was not in the least sympathetic. The month's leave was supposed to be Sharpe's reward for bringing back a hoard of gold from behind enemy lines, but the whole of the light company had been on that jaunt and no one had suggested that the rest of them be given a month off. On the other hand Harper could well understand Sharpe's moroseness, for the thought of losing a whole month in Josefina's bed would make even a bishop hit the gin.

"One bloody week," Sharpe snarled, "bastard bloody army!" He stepped aside from the path and waited for the company to close up. In truth his foul mood had little to do with his truncated leave, but he could not admit to Harper what was really causing it. He stared back down the column, seeking out the figure of Lieutenant Slingsby. That was the problem. Lieutenant bloody Cornelius bloody Slingsby.

As the company reached Sharpe they sat beside the path. Sharpe commanded fifty-four rank and file now, thanks to a draft from England, and those newly arrived men stood out because they had bright-red coats. The uniforms of the other men had paled under the sun and were so liberally patched with brown Portuguese cloth that, from a distance, they looked more like tramps than soldiers. Slingsby, of course, had objected to that ...


Excerpted from Sharpe's Escape by Bernard Cornwell Copyright © 2004 by Bernard Cornwell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Michael Dirda
“An altogether rousing tale of revenge and derring-do....Cornwell’s cinematically detailed battle pieces [are] literal tours de force.”

Meet the Author

BERNARD CORNWELL is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales series, which includes The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, and, most recently, The Empty Throne, and which serves as the basis for the BBC America series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.

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