Thursday, September 7, 2006

Finished: "Sharpe's Fury" by Bernard Cornwell

Finished: Sharpe's Fury: Richard Sharpe and Battle of Barrosa, March 1811 by Bernard Cornwell, 2006, 9780060530488.

This Sharpe novel has a different flavour than the others. The battle can be considered significant but was not as big as the ones in the other novels and Wellington was not there. I had not read any Sharpe books in a while so I cannot pinpoint the differences in the storyline but Fury just seemed out of tune compared the other books in the series. The novel is still enjoyable but it does not have the same flavor as the others.

Fury starts out with Sharpe assisting in the capture of a French fort in Spain so they can then destroy a pontoon bridge over a river. In the process of destroying the bridge Sharpe, Sergeant Harper, several riflemen and the force's commanding general are separated from the main force. Swept downstream on a barge from the pontoon bridge the group makes its way to Cadiz, Spain. Sharpe is then recruited by the British Ambassador in Cadiz to recover damning letters that the Ambassador wrote to his whore girlfriend.

Recovering the letters takes about half the novel and then Cornwell contrives a way to get Sharpe into the Battle of Barrosa to the south of the city.

Cornwell paints the Spanish army in a very unflattering light. The Spanish general commanding the joint British and Spanish force at Barrosa sucked. The Spanish troops in the Peninsular War could be very good but the commander at Barrosa, General Lapena was awful. General Lapena drove his attacking force around in the middle of night with constant starts and stops and turns. The Battle itself had Lapena refusing to fight while the British fought off and beat away a force outnumbering them 7 to 5, including an uphill British attack to clear the right flank. Lapena had his Spanish troops halt a mile or so from the battle on the beach while the British stopped the French from driving them all into the sea.

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