Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Re-Listened: "Sharpe's Tiger" by Bernard Cornwell

Re-Listened: Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard Cornwell, 1997, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

Another book I downloaded to maybe play on our drive to WY and back. I have always greatly enjoyed the narration of Frederick Davidson. There are a number of novels in the Wisconsin Digital Library narrated by Davidson. Many of those are HEAVY LITERATURE. Like Jude the Obscure, Dubliners, Gulag Archipelago, and Brothers Karamazov. Maybe I'll give one of his versions a try. According to my internet box Davidson passed away in 2005. Bummer.

After Cornwell stuck Richard Sharpe into every battle, skirmish, and attack he could think of during the Peninsula Campaign he started setting his stories back when Sharpe as a 22-year-old Redcoat in India. This is the first of those three novels. Sharpe is a Redcoat in the 33rd Foot as the regiment and the rest of a combined British and East India Company army march against the Tippoo of Mysore. The Tippoo wants to drive the Limeys out of India and have his own massive kingdom.

Sharpe is considering desertion. He is bored. He hates his cruel company Sergeant, Hakeswilll. He wants to flee with his new girlfriend, Mary Bickerstaff, to somewhere interesting. Sergeant Hakeswill is cruel for cruelties sake and early in the novel he tries to set Sharpe up  - a trap that Sharpe escapes. But, Hakeswill's cruelty is determined and he gets the company's drunken Captain Morris to help. Hakeswill godes Sharpe into slugging Hakeswill, the Captain witnesses the assault, and Sharpe is sentenced to 2,000 lashes. That'll kill ya.

Anyhoo. As happens in several of the Sharpe novels Sharpe is rescued from punishment by a officer who wants Sharpe for a special job. Sharpe's Lieutenant is  tasked with sneaking into the city of Seringapatam to try and rescue a British soldier/spy. The Lieutenant knows he needs help and requests Sharpe. The General in charge of the campaign agrees to the request and off Sharpe and the Lieutenant go.They pretend to be deserters, are captured, prove themselves to their captors, are assigned to a company of European soldiers, and have to figure how to escape the city and warn the attacking army to avoid a trap.

Of course plenty more happens. We learn about the Tippoo (still revered in modern India). How siege warfare was run once armies had artillery. The brutality of the Tippoo on British prisoners. The gulf between officer and enlisted in the English army. The difficulties of night attacks, provisioning several thousand people who are marching hundreds of miles, and storming a freaking walled city. Great stuff. Much fun. Sharpe always wins out in the end and the bad guys are always dealt with.

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