Sharpe's Battle (Sharpe Series #12)

Sharpe's Battle (Sharpe Series #12)

by Bernard Cornwell

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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, the twelth installment in the world-renowned Sharpe series, chronicling the rise of Richard Sharpe, a Private in His Majesty’s Army at the siege of Seringapatam.

Quartered in a crumbling Portuguese fort, Richard Sharpe and his men are attacked by an elite French unit, led by an old enemy of Sharpe’s, and suffer heavy losses.

The army’s high command blame Sharpe for the disaster and his military career seems to be ruined. His only hope is to redeem himself on the battlefield. So with his honour at stake, against an overwhelming number of French troops, Sharpe leads his men to battle in the narrow streets of Fuentes de Oñoro.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060932282
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/19/2013
Series: Sharpe Series , #12
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 87,058
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.83(d)

About 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 Warriors of the Storm, and which serves as the basis for the hit television series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Sharpe swore. Then, in desperation, he turned the map upside down. "Might as well not have a bloody map," he said, "for all the bloody use it is."

"We could light a fire with it," Sergeant Harper suggested. "Good kindling's hard to come by in these hills."

"It's no bloody use for anything else," Sharpe said. The hand-drawn map showed a scatter of villages, a few spidery lines for roads, streams or rivers, and some vague hatchings denoting hills, whereas all Sharpe could see was mountains. No roads or villages, just gray, bleak, rock-littered mountains with peaks shrouded by mists, and valleys cut by streams turned white and full by the spring rains. Sharpe had led his company into the high ground on the border between Spain and Portugal and there become lost. His company, forty soldiers carrying packs, haversacks, cartridge cases and weapons, seemed not to care. They were just grateful for the rest and so sat or lay beside the grassy track. Some lit pipes, others slept, while Captain Richard Sharpe turned the map right side up and then, in anger, crumpled it into a ball. "We're bloody lost," he said and then, in fairness, corrected himself "I'm bloody lost."

"My grand-da got lost once," Harper said helpfully. "He'd bought a bullock from a fellow in Cloghanelly Parish and decided to take a shortcut home across the Derryveagh Mountains. Then the fog rolled in and Grand-da couldn't tell his left from his right. Lost like a wee lamb he was, and then the bullock deserted the ranks and bolted into the fog and jumped clear over a cliff into the Barra Valley. Grand-da said you could hear the poor wee beast bellowing all the way down, thenthere was a thump just like you'd dropped a bagpipe off a church tower, only louder, he said, because he reckoned they must have heard that thump all the way to Ballybofey. We used to laugh about it later, but not at the time. God, no, it was a tragedy at the time. We couldn'tafford to lose a good bullock."

"Jesus bloody wept!" Sharpe interrupted. "I can afford to lose a bloody sergeant who's got nothing better to do than blather on about a bloody bullock!"

"It was a valuable beast!" Harper protested. "Besides, we're lost. We've got nothing better to do than pass the time, sir."

Lieutenant Price had been at the rear of the column, but now joined his commanding officer at the front. "Are we lost, sir?"

"No, Harry, I came here for the hell of it. Wherever the hell this is." Sharpe stared glumly about the damp, bleak valley. He was proud of his sense of direction and his skills at crossing strange country, but now he was comprehensively, utterly lost and the clouds were thick enough to disguise the sun so that be could not even tell which direction was north."We need a compass," he said.

"Or a map?" Lieutenant Price suggested happily.

"We've got a bloody map. Here." Sharpe thrust the balled-up map into the Lieutenant's hands. "Major Hogan drew it for me and I can't make headnor tail out of it."

I was never any good with maps," Price confessed. "I once got lost marching some recruits from Chelmsford to the barracks, and that's a straight road. I had a map that time, too. I think I must have a talent for getting lost."

"My grand-da was like that," Harper said proudly. "He could get lost between one side of a gate and the other. I was telling the captain here about the time he took a bullock up Slieve Snaght. It was dirty weather, see, and he was talking the shortcut—"

"Shut up," Sharpe said nastily.

"We went wrong at that ruined village," Price said, frowning over the creased map. "I think we should have stayed on the other side of the stream, sir." Price showed Sharpe the map. "If that is the village. Hard to tell really. But I'm sure we shouldn't have crossed the stream, sir."

Sharpe half suspected the lieutenant was right, but he did not want to admit it. They had crossed the stream two hours before, so God only knew where they were now. Sharpe did not even know if they were in Portugal or Spain, though both the scenery and the weather looked more like Scotland. Sharpe was supposedly on his way to Vilar Formoso where his company, the Light Company of the South Essex Regiment, would be attached to the Town Major as a guard unit, a prospect that depressed Sharpe. Town garrison duty was little better than being a provost and provosts were the lowest form of army life, but the South Essex was short of men and so the regiment had been taken out of the battle line and set to administrative duties. Most of the regiment was escorting bullock carts loaded with supplies that had been barged up the Tagus from Lisbon, or else were guarding French prisoners on their way to the ships that would carry them to Britain, but the Light Company was lost, and all because Sharpe had heard a distant cannonade resembling far-away thunder and he had marched toward the sound, only to discover that his ears had played tricks. The noise of the skirmish, if indeed it was a skirmish and not genuine thunder, had faded away and now Sharpe was lost. "Are you sure that's the ruined village?" he asked Price, pointing to the crosshatched spot on the map that Price had indicated.

"I wouldn't like to swear to it, sir, not being able to read maps. It could be any of those scratchings, sir, or maybe none.

"Then why the hell are you showing it to me?"

"In a hope for inspiration, sir," Price said in a wounded voice. "I was trying to help, sir. Trying to raise our hopes." He looked down at the map again. "Maybe it isn't a very good map?" he suggested.

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Sharpe's Battle (Sharpe Series #12) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is #12 in the Richard Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell, who has to be the best writer of historical military fiction ever. His novels are extremely well researched, the action is true-to-life, and the characters are compelling. This series is a must read.
TprE More than 1 year ago
A super hero of the past - good action - fast moving and some history lessons thrown in - real good series.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No. 12 in the Richard Sharpe series.In May 1911, Sharpe and his company are still in Spain. Thanks to international politics, Sharpe is given the responsibility of training a mostly ceremonial battalion of the Spanish King¿s Household Guards made up of Irishmen or descendants of Irishmen. But first Sharpe and his south Essex company encounter an unusual French brigade, led by Brigadier General Guy Loup, designed to fight the partisan¿s with the utmost savagery. Encountering two of the French brigade¿s soldiers in the act of raping a young Spanish woman, and after seeing the rape and mutilation of children and other inhabitants of a Spanish village, Sharpe decides to execute the two soldiers. This, of course, is against the rules of war, since they were prisoners. Worse, Sharpe ha in the most insulting way possible, denied Loup¿s demand that he release the soldiers; instead, he executes them in front of Loup¿s eyes, making him Sharpe¿s mortal enemy.Sharpe and the Household Guards, along with the south Essex Light Company, encamp in the old and crumbling fort of San Isidro, where they are attacked, at night, by Loup¿s brigade. After a desperate defense, Sharpe and the troops escape. Sharpe, however, and the indomitable Sergeant Harper, find themselves participating almost by accident in the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, a horrendous three-day slaughter marked by one of Wellington¿s rare tactical mistakes.Again, this is one of my favorites in the Sharpe series. It has all the outstanding qualities of the series, as well as an interesting subplot. The Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro as the climax of the story is a real thriller. The reader knows perfectly well that Sharpe will get out of it alive; the only suspense is how, and that¿s sufficient to keep you up late at night reading on.There is a brief Historical Note on the battle, and a good if somewhat unnecessary diagram of the area in which it took place.One of the best of the series. highly recommended.
5hrdrive on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The bloodiest, nastiest battle Sharpe's encountered since Sharpe's Fortress, maybe ever. From the carnage of San Isidro Fort to the magnificent retreat from Poco Velha and the frantic final struggle in Fuentes de Orono, the action never lets up. And Sharpe faces perhaps his most dangerous adversary yet, the grotesque Brigadier Loup. This is one great story and I can't recommend it enough.
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