Sharpe's Prey (Sharpe Series #5)

Sharpe's Prey (Sharpe Series #5)

by Bernard Cornwell


View All Available Formats & Editions
Want it by Tuesday, November 27 Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060084530
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/23/2012
Series: Sharpe Series , #5
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 141,633
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.65(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

Captain Henry Willsen of His Majesty's Dirty Half Hundred, more formally the 50th Regiment of West Kent, parried his opponent's saber. He did it hurriedly. His right hand was low so that his saber's blade was raised in the position known to the fencing masters as the quarte basse and the knowledgeable spectators thought the parry was feeble. A surprised murmur sounded, for Willsen was good. Very good. He had been attacking, but it was apparent he had been slow to see his taller opponent's counter and now he was in disorganized retreat. The taller man pressed, swatting the quarte basse aside and lunging so that Willsen skittered backward, his slippers squeaking with a staccato judder on the wooden floor which was liberally scattered with French chalk. The very sound of the slippers on the chalked wood denoted panic. The sabers clashed harshly again, the taller man stamped forward, his blade flickering, clanging, reaching, and Willsen was countering in apparent desperation until, so fast that those watching could scarce follow his blade's quick movement, he stepped to one side and riposted at his opponent's cheek. There seemed little power in the riposte, for its force all came from Willsen's wrist rather than from his full arm, but the saber's edge still struck the taller man with such might that he lost his balance. He swayed, right arm flailing, and Willsen gently touched his weapon's point to his opponent's chest so that he toppled to the floor.

"Enough!" the Master-at-Arms called.

"God's teeth." The fallen man swept his blade at Willsen's ankles in a fit of pique. The blow was easily blocked and Willsen just walkedaway.

I said enough, my lord!" the Master-at-Arms shouted angrily.

"How the devil did you do that, Willsen?" Lord Marsden pulled off the padded leather helmet with its wire visor that had protected his face. I had you on your damned ass!"

Willsen, who had planned the whole passage of the fight from the moment he made a deliberately soft quarte basse, bowed. "Perhaps I was just fortunate, my lord?"

"Don't patronize me, man," Lord Marsden snapped as he climbed to his feet. "What was it?"

"Your disengagement from the sixte was slow, my lord."

"The devil it was," Lord Marsden growled. fie was proud of his ability with foil or saber, yet he knew Willsen had bested him easily by feigning a squeaking retreat. His lordship scowled, then realized he was being ungracious and so, tucking the saber under his arm, held out a hand. "You're quick, Willsen, damned quick."

The handful of spectators applauded the show of sportsmanship. They were in Horace Jackson's Hall of Arms, an establishment on London's Jermyn Street where wealthy men could learn the arts of pugilism, fencing and pistol shooting. The hall was a high bare room lined with racks of swords and sabers, smelling of tobacco and liniment, and decorated with prints of prize fighters, mastiffs and racehorses. The only women in the. place served drinks and food, or else worked in the small rooms above the hall where the beds were soft and the prices high.

Willsen pulled off his helmet and ran a hand through his long fair hair. He bowed to his beaten opponent, then carried both sabers to the weapon rack at the side of the hall where a tall, very thin and extraordinarily handsome captain in the red coat and blue facings of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards was waiting. The guardsman, a stranger to Willsen, tossed away a half-smoked cigar as Willsen approached, "You fooled him," the Captain said cheerfully.

Willsen frowned at the stranger's impertinence, but he answered politely enough. Willsen, after all, was an employee in Horace Jackson's Hall and the Guards Captain, judging by the elegant cut of his expensive uniform, was a patron. The sort of patron, moreover, who could not wait to prove himself against the celebrated Henry Willsen. "I fooled him?" Willsen asked. "How?"

"The quarte basse," the guardsman said, "you made it soft, am I right?"

Willsen was impressed at the guardsman's acuity, but did not betray it. "Perhaps I was just fortunate?" he suggested. He was being modest, for he had the reputation of being the finest swordsman in the Dirty Half Hundred, probably in the whole army and maybe in the entire country, but he belittled his ability, just as he shrugged off those who reckoned he was the best pistol shot in Kent. A soldier, Willsen liked to say, should be a master of his arms and so he practiced assiduously and prayed that one day his skill would be useful in the service of his country. Until that time came he earned his captain's pay and, because that was not sufficient to support a wife, child and mess bill, he taught fencing and pistol-shooting in Horace Jackson's Hall of Arms. Jackson, an old pugilist with a mashed face, wanted Willsen to leave the army and join the establishment fulltime, but Willsen liked being a soldier. It gave him a position in British society. It might not be a high place, but it was honorable.

"There's no such thing as luck," the guardsman said, only now he spoke in Danish, "not when you're fighting."

Willsen had been turning away, but the change of language made him look back to the golden-haired Guards Captain. His first careless impression had been one of privileged youth, but he now saw that the guardsman was probably in his early thirties and had a cynical, knowing cast to his devil-may-care good looks. This was a man, Willsen thought, who would be at home in a palace or at a prizefight. A formidable man too, and one who was of peculiar importance to Willsen, who now offered the guardsman a half-bow. "You, sir," he said respectfully, "must be Major the Honorable John Lavisser...

Sharpe's Prey. Copyright © by Bernard Cornwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Sharpe's Prey (Sharpe Series #5) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Splendid absolutely splendid, as I've grown accustome to expect from Master Cornwell
bntt1 More than 1 year ago
You feel the battle going on around you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A nice change of pace for our loveable rogue. We get to see him righting some wrongs from his past in old blighty. Then we see him facing a foe that he is in a moral quandry about fighting. He is more spy than soldier and faces off against a very worthy female adversary. A very nice history lesson about a subject that I had never heard of. All in all, a superior entry into the sharpe chronicles!
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Bernard Cornwell wrote Sharpe¿s Rifles over two decades ago, it is obvious he did not intend to add novels before the peninsular campaign. Now there are four, with the most recent being Sharp¿s Prey, a story of the British 1807 bombardment of Copenhagen with Richard Sharp serving as a spy. The story starts off slowly, with an explanation of Sharpe¿s experiences between Sharpe¿s Trafalgar and the current novel, his financial difficulties, the horror of London in 1807, and the introduction of the prey. It is not until we get half way into the book that the traditional Sharp appears, the battleground Sharp, although for the most part the spy Sharp. There is even a love interest. Some of the supporting cast comes from Sharpe¿s Trafalgar, but most are unique to this effort¿and they are well drawn and interesting. Unfortunately, they must disappear, as the remaining history between Sharp¿s Prey and Sharpe¿s Rifles is Wellington in Portugal, most likely Cornwell¿s next Sharpe story. As always, Cornwell is a superb wordsmith. His descriptions of Copenhagen are real, and, from time to time, there are sentences that summarize a character¿that say all there is to say about the character in shorthand. My only complaint is Sharpe¿s nemesis is not as evil as others are in the series¿I can almost like and understand this one.
Bonestcjmom on LibraryThing 9 days ago
Love the Sharpe series of books as much as I loved the TV series!
wispywillow on LibraryThing 9 days ago
Lt. Sharpe lost a lot of my respect in the previous book (Sharpe's Trafalgar), but he regained a lot of it--perhaps all of it and even more!--in this book.It starts off with Sharpe, mourning Grace's death, wanting out of the army. The only thing preventing him from doing so is the fact that he is unable to sell his commission. Since he was given his commission and had not bought it, as a 'proper' officer would have, he could not sell it back. The poor guy is utterly broke, due to legal issues with Grace's family after her death.He finds his way back to the foundling home where he grew up, and he meets up with the Master. It gets ugly, of course, but Sharpe is protecting a little girl. He does have a soft spot in him, it seems. A likeable character, all in all, even though he can be a brute. But he knows he's a brute, and so does the author, so it's all good.The story goes along and Sharpe finds himself in Denmark.This was a really interesting bit... Cornwell showed England as the aggressors in this battle. Denmark was utterly neutral, but because it had a good fleet that France was eyeing, England wanted control of the Danish fleet before France got it. Denmark, being neutral, refused time and again... so the fleet had to be taken from it by force.Sharpe was in Copenhagen when all this stuff happened, and he was torn between doing a duty that needed done and seeing the Danish people dying when they shouldn't have been. Good conflict, there. It gave Sharpe some extra layers in his character, too.And... the Rifles make a cameo, including Patrick Harper! *squee* The next book, which I have already read but will probably read again, is Sharpe's Rifles, and it shows us Sharpe's inclusion into that group.Good stuff. I was happy with this one. ^_^
TadAD on LibraryThing 9 days ago
This is the fifth (chronologically...they were published in a different order) in Cornwell's series about Richard Sharpe, a soldier in the British infantry during the Napoleonic Wars. As the subtitle says, this episode occurs during the British invasion of Copenhagen in 1807, a seldom-remembered event. Denmark possesses the second most powerful navy in existence after Trafalgar destroyed the French fleet. The Danes are neutral in the wars and have taken their fleet and moored it up in Copenhagen's harbor, refusing to allow either side to use it.As our story opens, the French have just concluded the Treaty of Tilsit with Russia, one whose provisions states that the Russians will turn a blind eye toward a French move to seize the Danish fleet. The British cannot afford to allow this and demand that Denmark moor the fleet in England for safe-keeping. The Danes refuse. In response, the British attack Copenhagen, shelling¿tactics that presage the horrors of warfare a century later¿the civilian population of the city with thousands of explosive and incendiary rounds in order to break the Danish will and force them to yield the ships.Richard Sharpe is sent into this volatile situation in advance on a mission as a bodyguard for Captain Lavisser, who has orders to follow up on intelligence that the Danish Crown Prince is amenable to a bribe. Of course, the reader is aware from an opening scene that this intelligence was faked by Lavisser himself who is a French agent and intends to abscond with the £43,000 in gold while opening the city to the French. What follows is an exciting ride through intrigues, betrayals and battles. This book packs a bit more punch than the previous, where Sharpe's actions were somewhat constrained by being at sea.The overall tone of the book is not as up-beat as some of the earlier stories. When Sharpe enters the book, we learn immediately that Grace died in childbirth and Sharpe is left rudderless: he cannot deal with her absence; he had spent his fortune on property for the family they were starting, only to lose it to her family's lawyers afterwards; he does not fit in as an officer because of his background and sees no future in the Army. The subplot of this story is Sharpe coming to terms with all of this, emerging at the end still sad, but able to let Grace go and throw himself back into life an infanty officer. In addition to Sharpe's personal troubles, new layers (darker layers) are added to his personality as he watches, appalled, the slaughter of the helpless Danes, full of contempt for those who make strategic policy.A good read.
5hrdrive on LibraryThing 9 days ago
Didn't care for this one nearly as much as its predecessors. I sympathized too much with the defenseless residents of Copenhagen, I suppose. Still, it was interesting learning about this little known episode.
BruderBane on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Though not the best in the Sharpe series, Sharpe¿s Prey is solid with action and adventure throughout. Taking place in 1807 our hero once again finds himself riding shotgun, and with a seven barreled gun almost literally, on the coattails of the soon to be Duke of Wellington. I found this fifth book in the series a bit lugubrious but all in all a decent ride.
Joycepa on LibraryThing 3 months ago
#5 in the Richard Sharpe series.It's 1807, and Sharpe is broke and bitter. After returning to England after the Batle of Trafalgar, he and Lady Grace Hale began living together. But the class difference between them led to social disapproval and shunning. When Lady Grace died in childbirth, leaving Sharpe stricken with grief, the family's lawyers descended like a pack of vultures and stripped Sharpe of all his property, leaving him destitute into the bargain. In addition, he still has not integrated well into the Rifles; the company captain relegates Sharpe to the menial and boring task of quartermaster.Desperate, feeling that his fortunes can go no lower, Sharpe plans and carries out a daring robbery of a man he hates more than anyone else in the world--the head of the orphanage in which Sharpe grew up. Sharpe intends to take the money and desert from the army. Hiding in a tavern to escape pursuit, Sharpe suddenly is accosted by Major General Sir David Baird, a Scotsman whose life he saved during the storming of the fortress of Seringapatam in India. Baird has been searching for Sharpe, since Sharpe is exactly the person that Baird thinks can handle an unusual and dangerous assignment: escorting Foot Gruads' Captain Lavisser to Copenhagen, Denmark on a mission to prevent the French from capturing Denmark's navy--by means of a bribe.The errand seems simple, but Sharpe does not reckon on treachery. Trapped in Copenhagen and a hunted man, he enters a series of adventures that ends with the brutal bombardment of Copenhagen's civilian population by the British, possibly the first instance of deliberate warfare on a civilian population to achieve military ends. In this installment is the first appearance of Lord Pumphrey, and effeminate-seeming but subtle and powerful member of the Foreign Office. Those who have read the Aubrey-Maturin series will remember Sir Joseph Blaine, Stephen Maturin's contact and a decent person. However, Blaine refers to other types in the Foreign Office, and Pumphreys is definitely one of the "others"--ruthless and remorseless behind a smiling and foppish exterior.The bombardment of Copenhagen is described in detail and leaves nothing to the imagination in terms of the suffering of the civilian population.As usual, Cornwell has done his research and history comes alive in another very well-written book in this excellent series. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago