Cornwell’s latest (2023) Sharpe adventure Sharpe’s
Command places our hero at the battle of the Bridge at Almaraz, 1812 – as usual,
based on historical events.
Major Sharpe is leading his Chosen Men, with sergeant Harper and the familiar other characters. They are behind enemy lines, intent on preventing the French from crossing the bridge to reinforce one of their forts which is soon to be under British siege.
Needless to say, he triumphs after a number of setbacks, this time aided by his wife Teresa and her guerrillas. Some of the impediments are due to betrayal by presumed allies, and others by the incompetence of British officers.
If you’ve watched any of the Sharpe TV films then you’ll be familiar with the characters and can even hear their voices as they speak from the page. If you haven’t, you’ll still enjoy an engaging and fascinating adventure sprinkled with knowledge about rifles, muskets and big guns! We meet again major Hogan who this time opines ‘A wise man once said that the best way to win a war is to do it without fighting’ (p210). He was doubtless quoting from Sun Tzu’s Strategy of War: ‘To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence.’
It would be unfair to go into details (spoilers) about the book. There’s historical fact, humour, bravery, and blood and gore. The usual ingredients for a fast-paced Sharpe read.
***Like C S Forester with his hero Hornblower, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels are not written in historical chronological order. Of his twenty-three Sharpe books, this is the fourteenth in chronological order, preceded by Sharpe’s Company and followed by Sharpe’s Sword. It’s not essential to read them in historical order, though it’s recommended as some main characters do die in the series (though it’s a good way to meet again some who later die, if that isn’t too confusing!)