Thursday, August 23, 2018

Re-Heard on Vacation: "Sharpe's Gold" by Bernard Cornwell

Re-Heard on Vacation: Sharpe's Gold by Bernard Cornwell, 1981 (print), downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

I picked out several books for the long vacation drives from WI to WY to MT to WI again. All the books I chose were fantastic selections of adventure or intrigue or illuminating nonfiction. Unfortunately, my family did not recognize my great taste and this is the only book we listened to. (See previous post regarding Cosmos.)

I used to sneer at the Sharpe books. They looked like crappy male adventure novels that should have been printed on acidic paper and sold out of porn stores. I ended up trying one out almost 20 years ago, really enjoyed the novel, and I've been a enthusiastic fan of Cornwell ever since.

I chose a couple Sharpe audiobooks for the family drive because Cornwell tells a great story and his historical accuracy and detail add so much to that story. Cornwell's concise, descriptive sentences give great details and he he always keeps the story moving along.

Anyhoo. Sharpe is a Captain now. Still serving with Wellington's Army in Spain as the French Army is sweeping West towards Portugal. Things are looking bad for the limeys and Sharpe gets called to headquarters. Sharpe is called in front of Wellington himself and the General's intelligence chief. Sharpe and his company of riflemen are tasked with going into French territory and recovering a cache of Spanish gold. Sharpe is not told by Wellington how the gold will be spent but Sharpe is told that recovery of the gold is key to the survival of the British.

Sharpe and a supercilious, hyper-religious Major head into French territory to meet up with another British Army Officer who has been working with the Spanish partisans. The other Officer is the one who knows where the gold has been hidden. Sharpe and Co. arrive at the village to find it occupied by the Frogs. The witness a skirmish between the Spanish partisans and the Major is captured trying to rendezvous with the partisans.

As usual Sharpe has many troubles to overcome. This challenges come from the enemy and his own men and allies. The Major is a would-be-Spaniard and his sympathies for the Spanish are overriding Sharpe's own orders. Sharpe has to battle the partisan leader who wants to keep the gold for himself and establish his own fiefdom and government since the Spanish King and government have fallen apart and fled the French.

There are:
  • beheadings
  • torture
  • murder of Spanish women and children
  • revenge by the Partisans
  • Sharpe's fear and hatred of lancers
  • Long range rifle shooting
  • night attacks
  • sneakiness and subterfuge
  • Sharpe's dedication to the mission
  • pompous British officers
  • an absurd love affair between Sharpe and a beautiful partisan
  • The siege of Almeida
  • Sharpe blowing up Almeida when the British General does not let Sharpe leave with the gold (as mentioned above: Sharpe will complete the mission).

No comments: