Sharpe's Rifles: 2richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809

Bernard Cornwell, Author
Bernard Cornwell, Author Viking Books $17.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-670-82222-5
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
The eight previous books about Richard Sharpe, up-from-the-ranks infantry officer in H.M. Rifles, followed him from Talavera in 1809, battling Napoleon's armies across Iberia into France in early 1814. This ``prequel'' set in January 1809 has the new Lieutenant Sharpe trying to get his small English band away from the victorious French. Sharpe hopes to join the British outpost in Lisbon but is waylaid by a Spanish major of cavalry into helping him pull off a ``miracle.'' The noble Major Vivar means to raise the flag of Spain's patron saint over Santiago de Compostela, now in French hands, as a sign that Spain will not be defeated. Readers of the earlier books will enjoy the usual smooth writing and vivid, occasionally quite gory, color. The battle scenes are thrillingly realistic and we always learn something: a macho , for example, is a mule whose vocal chords have been cut so that it can't bray and warn the enemy. The subplots revolve around Sharpe's making the recalcitrant Harper a sergeant, winning the respect of his troops and, alas, losing a fair young English girl. (September)
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