Monday, October 31, 2011

Sharpe's Company

Sharpe's Company
© 1982 Bernard Cornwell
280 pages


Spring 1812. After wintering behind its protective battle lines, the British army is ready to begin driving Monsieur Bonaparte out of Spain -- but first, there's a great big fortress at Badajoz to capture. The fortress has thwarted previous attempts at seizure by the British, but it must be taken....and Richard Sharpe must take it, for his promotion to Captain was refused and now he is but a lowly lieutenant, separated from his friends and his company. Only through some glorious triumph can he salvage his wounded pride and restore his proper rank. Worse yet, he's forced to contend with  an old nemesis, Sergeant Hakeswill, who must be one of the most perfectly loathsome men in all of English literature. Hakeswill is a malevolent force that Sharpe must destroy, for the contemptible sergeant has his eyes set on destroying Sharpe's love Teresa....and their daughter.

 The personal odds are as high as they've ever been for Sharpe, and the final battle one of his most difficult.  The prospect of Sharpe losing his company and his best friend should strike a chord with readers, for we have seen his bond with them grow throughout this series. Originally, Sharpe was assigned as their quartermaster, and when he presumed to take actual command the men hated him for it. Now Sharpe and his company are as loyal to one another as is humanely possible, and though fate and war would seem to drive them apart they will defy both and reunite to help accomplish one of Britain's most memorable victories -- one again, as an American, I've never heard of.  Company is one of the more intense Sharpe novels, although it does not quite satisfy in the matter of Obadiah Hakeswill. Still, I look forward to Sharpe's Sword.

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