Sharpe’s Siege Review
If you haven’t read any of Bernard Cornwell’s books before then this is as good an introduction to his stock in trade as you might expect to fine. Regular readers of the Sharpe adventures will probably not bother to read this doggerel of praise: they will proceed directly to page one of the book and devour it shamelessly. To say that this, like the other Sharpe epics, is an action novel is an understatement. There is no end of slashing, gouging, stabbing, piercing, raping, disemboweling, gel ding, decapitating, beheading, drowning, and I may have missed a few: there’s no hanging, flogging or death by suffocation in this one. There is death, deceit, and violence galore. There is blood. There are broken bones. There are muskets and rifles; there are howitzers and cannons; there are cutlasses and swords and even chemical warfare. And where does all of this happen you may well ask?
The year is 1814. The tide has turned on Napoleon and his armies. In a hard fought contest, British troops, with the help of their Portuguese allies and the Spanish guerrillas, have pushed the French armies out of the Iberian Peninsula and are now beginning to move up France’s west coast.
Sharpe and his riflemen and a contingent of Royal Marines are abandoned by the British Navy to fend for themselves in a fortification stripped of its guns and stores and rendered useless by the hurriedly retreating navy. With no weapons except those slung over their shoulders and virtually without ammunition, Sharpe and his men, about two hundred of them, are forced to hold off a French force over ten times as large. Outmanned and outgunned, in fierce combat and with exemplary courage they none the less, consistently stay the course and manage to fight off superior French forces repeatedly while exacting a fierce toll of the increasingly dispirited French force.
In the end, Sharpe and his feckless Rifles and Marines, escape back to their lines to settle some scores: scores of deceit and cowardice.
Sharpe’s been doing this kind of thing, as he says it, for over twenty years now. He’s good --- on the battlefield he seems to have at least nine lives. How many of them has he used up?
As usual, a five star effort for Cornwell and Sharpe. Highly recommended. And pass me the next Sharpe adventure.
I think of the Sharpe books as literary junk food. There not terribly deep but they're oh so fun. I usually get hooked and read them through in 1-2 days. This is another one of my favourites.
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