Sharpe's Havoc (Sharpe Series #7)

Sharpe's Havoc (Sharpe Series #7)

4.4 35
by Bernard Cornwell

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Lieutenant Richard Sharpe finds himself fighting the ruthless armies of Napoleon Bonaparte as they try to bring the whole of the Iberian Peninsula under their control. Napoleon is advancing fast through northern Portugal, and no one knows whether the small contingent of British troops stationed in Lisbon will stay to fight or sail back to England. Sharpe, however,

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Lieutenant Richard Sharpe finds himself fighting the ruthless armies of Napoleon Bonaparte as they try to bring the whole of the Iberian Peninsula under their control. Napoleon is advancing fast through northern Portugal, and no one knows whether the small contingent of British troops stationed in Lisbon will stay to fight or sail back to England. Sharpe, however, does not have a choice: He and his squad of riflemen are on the lookout for the missing daughter of an English wine shipper when the French onslaught begins and the city of Oporto becomes a setting for carnage and disaster.

Stranded behind enemy lines, Sharpe returns to his mission to find Kate Savage. Sharpe's position on enemy grounds is precarious, and his search is further complicated by a mysterious and threatening Englishman, Colonel Christopher, who has his own ideas on how the French can be driven from Portugal.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sharpe fans who may have worried that Cornwell's popular series was drawing to a close can heave a sigh of relief-the 19th entry (after 2002's Sharpe's Prey) brings the up-from-the-ranks rifleman back to the Peninsular War where the series began, among such familiar comrades-in-arms as Sergeant Harper and the "old poacher" Dan Hagman. In the treacherous villain role without which no Sharpe adventure would be complete, the Shakespeare-quoting Colonel Christopher plays both sides of the fence in an effort to contrive a peace between the warring parties that will leave him a rich man. But Christopher hasn't reckoned with the new British commander, Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, who arrives in time to catch Marshal Soult's invading army by surprise. Meanwhile, Sharpe and his men, cut off in a Portuguese village, hold off superior French forces with the aid of Lieutenant Vicente, a Portuguese lawyer, poet and philosopher turned soldier. Sharpe's antilawyer barbs, as well as some later banter about the troubled relations between the English and Irish and between the Spanish and Portuguese, provide comic relief, while Kate Savage, a naive 19-year-old Englishwoman seduced by Christopher, lends relatively minor romantic interest. A delicious scene at Wellesley's headquarters, in which Sharpe has to account for his seemingly inactive role, will please aficionados, as will the ringing words with which Cornwell closes his customary afterword on the historical background: "So Sharpe and Harper will march again." (Apr. 1) Forecast: An eight-city author tour, his first in the U.S., plus the human interest story of the author's recent discovery of his biological parents after being give up for adoption at birth, should ensure that Cornwell builds on his ever-increasing U.S. sales. Whether Cornwell will clamber up national bestseller lists, though, as he routinely does in the U.K., remains to be seen. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Cornwell (Gallows Thief) continues his popular "Sharpe" series with this latest entry. It is 1809, and Napoleon has plans to annex the Iberian Peninsula; British troops are sent to help the Portuguese in their battle against the French. Sharpe and his small regiment of riflemen are separated from the main body of British troops, and once again find themselves in the thick of the action, which centers in and around the city of Oporto. Complicating matters is Kate Savage, the daughter of a British wine merchant in Oporto, whom Sharpe must find and escort to safety. Meanwhile, a French spy marries Kate solely to get his hands on her fortune. The action shifts between battle scenes and the spy, whom Sharpe unmasks. Although the outcome is never in doubt, this nevertheless makes for a rousing story. The reader is pleased to encounter an ongoing cast of characters, familiar from the previous books in the series. In an afternote, Cornwell mentions that this book is based on actual historical events and people. Recommended for popular historical fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/02.]-Fred M. Gervat, Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Isolated but far from impotent, Sharpe and his trusty riflemen hold off vast Napoleonic forces in the Portuguese wine country. With years to go before the Corsican Menace is safely quarantined, there is never any doubt but that intrepid, supremely resourceful Richard Sharpe, amiable hero of 18 previous outings (Sharpe's Prey, 2001, etc.), will prevail, though Cornwell, always using good history and always explaining where he has fantasized, never fails to engross and beguile. Sharpe is every gentle reader's secret vision of his or her own self: the victim of idiotic superiors, the idol of his troops, unsure of his place in the world, utterly sure of his place in battle. And doesn't he go to the loveliest places! Now he's in greater Oporto, home to the great red wine and the great English red wine-exporting families, where Bonaparte's troops threaten the city and such lovely citizens as Kate Savage, heiress to House Beautiful and a port fortune, who has disappeared. Sharpe is on the scene because he and his riflemen have been cut off from their battalion and because shrewd Captain Hogan needs him around for the odd commando task. In this case, the task is dual: find Kate and keep an eye on a certain slippery Colonel Christopher. Hightailing it out of the city as the Emperor's troops invade, Sharpe is witness to the disastrous collapse of a bridge and is near victim himself of a French ambush. His bacon is saved by a band of Portuguese irregulars led by Lieutenant Vicente, a young philosopher-lawyer-poet learning army tactics on the fly. Sharpe and Vicente's united little bands find their way to Kate Savage's country estate, where Kate is about to marry the perfidious ColonelChristopher. How perfidious? Not only has he arranged a bogus wedding mass, but he's busy playing off subfactions of the French against each other. Fool that he is, the Colonel, like the French, fears nothing from the obviously ill-born Lieutenant Sharpe. The best stuff.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Sharpe Series , #7
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Sharpe's Havoc

Richard Sharpe and the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809
By Bernard Cornwell


ISBN: 0060530464

Chapter One

Miss Savage was missing.

And the French were coming.

The approach of the French was the more urgent crisis. The splintering noise of sustained musket fire was sounding just outside the city and in the last ten minutes five or six cannonballs had battered through the roofs of the houses high on the river's northern bank. The Savage house was a few yards down the slope and for the moment was protected from errant French cannon fire, but already the warm spring air hummed with spent musket balls that sometimes struck the thick roof tiles with a loud crack or else ripped through the dark glossy pines to shower needles over the garden. It was a large house, built of white-painted stone and with dark-green shutters closed over the windows. The front porch was crowned with a wooden board on which were gilded letters spelling out the name House Beautiful in English. It seemed an odd name for a building high on the steep hillside where the city of Oporto overlooked the River Douro in northern Portugal, especially as the big square house was not beautiful at all, but quite stark and ugly and angular, even if its harsh lines were softened by dark cedars which would offer welcome shade in summer. A bird was making a nest in one of the cedars and whenever a musket ball tore through the branches it would squawk in alarm and fly a small loop before returning to its work. Scores of fugitives were fleeing past the House Beautiful, running down the hill toward the ferries and the pontoon bridge that would take them safe across the Douro. Some of the refugees drove pigs, goats and cattle, others pushed handcarts precariously loaded with furniture, and more than one carried a grandparent on his back.

Richard Sharpe, Lieutenant in the second battalion of His Majesty's 95th Rifles, unbuttoned his breeches and pissed on the narcissi in the House Beautiful's front flower bed. The ground was soaked because there had been a storm the previous night. Lightning had flickered above the city, thunder had billowed across the sky and the heavens had opened so that the flower beds now steamed gently as the hot sun drew out the night's moisture. A howitzer shell arched overhead, sounding like a ponderous barrel rolling swiftly over attic floorboards. It left a small gray trace of smoke from its burning fuse. Sharpe looked up at the smoke tendril, judging from its curve where the howitzer had to be emplaced. "They're getting too bloody close," he said to no one in particular.

"You'll be drowning those poor bloody flowers, so you will," Sergeant Harper said, then added a hasty "sir" when he saw Sharpe's face.

The howitzer shell exploded somewhere above the tangle of alleys close to the river and a heartbeat later the French cannonade rose to a sustained thunder, but the thunder had a crisp, clear, staccato timbre, suggesting that some of the guns were very close. A new battery, Sharpe thought. It must have unlimbered just outside the city, maybe half a mile away from Sharpe, and was probably whacking the big northern redoubt in the flank, and the musketry that had been sounding like the burning of a dry thorn bush now faded to an intermittent crackle, suggesting that the defending infantry was retreating. Some, indeed, were running and Sharpe could hardly blame them. A large and disorganized Portuguese force, led by the Bishop of Oporto, was trying to stop Marshal Soult's army from capturing the city, the second largest in Portugal, and the French were winning. The Portuguese road to safety led past the front garden of the House Beautiful and the bishop's blue-coated soldiers were skedaddling down the hill as fast as their legs could take them, except that when they saw the green-jacketed British riflemen they slowed to a walk as if to prove that they were not panicking. And that, Sharpe reckoned, was a good sign. The Portuguese evidently had pride, and troops with pride would fight well given another chance, though not all the Portuguese troops showed such spirit. The men from the ordenança kept running, but that was hardly surprising. The ordenança was an enthusiastic but unskilled army of volunteers raised to defend the homeland and the battle-hardened French troops were tearing them to shreds.

Meanwhile Miss Savage was still missing.

Captain Hogan appeared on the front porch of the House Beautiful. He carefully closed the door behind him and then looked up to heaven and swore fluently and impressively. Sharpe buttoned his breeches and his two dozen riflemen inspected their weapons as though they had never seen such things before. Captain Hogan added a few more carefully chosen words, then spat as a French round shot trundled overhead. "What it is, Richard," he said when the cannon shot had passed, "is a shambles. A bloody, goddamned miserable poxed bollocks of an agglomerated halfwitted shambles." The round shot landed somewhere in the lower town and precipitated the splintering crash of a collapsing roof. Captain Hogan took out his snuff box and inhaled a mighty pinch.

"Bless you," Sergeant Harper said.

Captain Hogan sneezed and Harper smiled.

"Her name," Hogan said, ignoring Harper, "is Katherine or, rather, Kate. Kate Savage, nineteen years old and in need, my God, how she is in need, of a thrashing! A hiding! A damned good smacking, that's what she needs, Richard. A copper-sheathed, goddamned bloody good walloping."

"So where the hell is she?" Sharpe asked.

"Her mother thinks she might have gone to Vila Real de Zedes," Captain Hogan said, "wherever in God's holy hell that might be. But the family has an estate there. A place where they go to escape the summer heat." He rolled his eyes in exasperation.

"So why would she go there, sir?" Sergeant Harper asked.

"Because she's a fatherless nineteen-year-old girl," Hogan said ... (Continues...)

Excerpted from Sharpe's Havoc 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.

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Sharpe's Havoc (Sharpe Series #7) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As series go, the Sharpe series is historically accurate and action oriented. However, the local villain in this volume, comes across rather 2-dimensional, when compared with Sharpe's other foes. He's certainly as big a villain as the others but he could have been more developed, in my opinion. He's no Sgt. Hakeswill nor Captain Lavisser. On the other hand, there is more development of some of Sharpe's riflemen other than Sgt. Harper. An altogether enjoyable read that lays the groundwork for the next episode in the Shape saga.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1809 in the Iberian Peninsular, though isolated from his side¿s main forces, Richard Sharpe and his unit defend Oporto, Portugal from Napoleon¿s armies. The city and the surrounding area are home to the famous red wine and numerous influential English red wine-exporting families. His superior Captain Hogan assigns Richard to keep safe the House Beautiful wine heiress Kate Savage and keep an eye on slick Colonel Christopher.

As Richard and his commandos perform their current mission, the French attack them. Portuguese irregulars led by philosopher poet Lieutenant Vicente save the beleaguered English. The two units consolidate heading to Kate¿s winery only to arrive, as she is to marry treacherous Colonel Christopher.

In his eighteenth appearance as a soldier during the Napoleonic Wars era, Sharpe lives up to his name, retaining a keen freshness as he battles the French and the bureaucracy. The tidbits from history, of which there are plenty, are brilliantly interwoven into the taut story line so that the audience receives a smooth plot yet know what is fact and what is Bernard Cornwell¿s vivid imagination. Anyone who relishes the era, enjoys war stories, or is a historical buff should read the Sharpe novels that bring in focus the realistic atrocities of battle as few novels short of All¿s Quiet on the Western Front has achieved.

Harriet Klausner

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cronraptor More than 1 year ago
Good, typical, Sharpe story but I have to admit that after reading all of the Sharpe books, some of them several times, I don't recall Cornwell using so many run-on sentences, seriously some of them take up almost an entire paragraph and can be quite distracting, it's something I'll have to look for as I reread his other books but otherwise a satisfying read and not overly burdened with battle descriptions like Sharpe's Waterloo and others.
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