Book Review: Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Rifles

Posted November 9, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Rifles

Sharpe's Rifles


Bernard Cornwell

historical fiction, military fiction in Paperback edition that was published by Penguin on February 1, 2001 and has 304 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Sharpe's Fortress: India 1803, Sharpe's Trafalgar: Richard Sharpe & the Battle of Trafalgar, October 21, 1805, arpe's Prey: Denmark, 1807, Sharpe's Havoc: Portugal 1809, Sharpe’s Eagle, Sharpe’s Escape: Richard Sharpe and the Bussaco Campaign, Sharpe's Gold: Richard Sharpe and the Destruction of Almeida, Sharpe's Battle: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, Sharpe's Company, Sharpe's Sword, Sharpe's Fury: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Barrosa, Sharpe's Enemy: The Defense of Portugal, Christmas 1812, Sharpe's Honor, Sharpe's Regiment

Sixth in the Richard Sharpe historical military fiction series revolving around Lieutenant Richard Sharpe currently slogging through a very cold Spain in January of 1809 as Quartermaster with the 95th Rifles.

My Take

This is a bridge story in which Sharpe struggles with and wins the hearts of the 95th while building new contacts that will aid him in Spain.

The Story

The 95th Rifles are bringing up the tail end of Sir John Moore’s retreat in Spain. Clad in rags, freezing and starving, fighting off the constant sting of advancing French troops, their paths intersect with a fresher troop of French Dragoons who annihilate the 95th.

None of the few remaining men want this upstart in charge, especially one who wants to head south, and a mutiny rises. One of their number volunteers to “persuade” this upstart lieutenant.

Truly, getting to Santiago, let alone taking it with their tiny force will be a miracle in itself.

The Characters

Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is still Quartermaster but at least he’s with the Army in Spain. Well, for now. Maybe forever if he and his battalion don’t catch up. Major Warren Dunnett is still in charge of the 95th, and he still hates Sharpe. Captain John Murray tries to give Sharpe advice and gifts him with his sword in an attempt to sway the men to support Sharpe. The surviving men of the 95th include Sergeant Williams, Patrick Harper, Gataker, Tongue, Parry Jenkins, Hagman, and Dodd.

Captain Hogan is with the Royal Engineers.

Major Blas Vivar is on a mission with his Cazadores to keep safe a sacred object which has the potential to rally all of Spain against the French. Lieutenant Davila is his second-in-command.

A chasseur Colonel of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, de l’Eclin, with a troop of Dragoons and the Count of Mouromorto have been sent in pursuit of that object.

Mr. and Mrs. George Parker and her niece, Louisa, join up with Sharpe just outside Santiago de Compostela. Devout Methodists, they have barely escaped Santiago and Mrs. Parker insists on an escort south to rejoin the British.

The Cover and Title

The cover is in a different style from the previous three but perfectly reflects the miracle within of a padlocked and ancient bound chest, a worn purple velvet nestled around a burning candle next to a key. Kinda wish someone would have read the actual description of the trunk that is the object of the chase.

The title is also perfect as this is the story in which the 95th becomes Sharpe’s Rifles.