Book Review: Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Sword

Posted January 15, 2012 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 Sword

Sharpe's Sword


Bernard Cornwell

historical fiction, military fiction that was published by Signet on August 3, 2004 and has 320 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 Rifles, 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 Fury: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Barrosa, Sharpe's Enemy: The Defense of Portugal, Christmas 1812, Sharpe's Honor, Sharpe's Regiment

Fourteenth in the Richard Sharpe fictional military history series revolving around a man who has come up through the ranks. A natural soldier who fights back and forth around Salamanca in Spain between June and July, 1810 in this installment. The Americans have just invaded Canada.

My Take

I love the battle, tactics, camaraderie, and the history of the Richard Sharpe series.

It’s all about spying in this installment. Master spies, the little guy. The depths to which the enemy will sink to destroy the oppositions’ lines of information as well as the reasons people choose to spy.

It’s also about loyalty. To one’s country, one’s fellows. And the depths to which one’s friends will dig to protect.

Cornwell does it again…I just wanted to step in with some penicillin. An autoclave. Or at least a pot of boiling water! His descriptions of the horrific conditions in which soldiers were treated are gag-worthy while the painful interactions Sharpe experiences in his initial meetings with the marquesa are enough to make you blush. And it’s easy to get caught up in Harper and Hogan’s worries about Sharpe when they think he’s died.

There is some amusing banter back and forth between Jack and Helena. Teasing that has deeper undertones once you reach the end of the story.

This is a series I want on my bookshelf…or my Kindle…I’m easy!

The Story

Col. Leroux is trapped with the King’s German Legions driving him and Captain Delmas into an ambush. Well, if he must be trapped, it won’t be as Leroux! Nor will his parole hold him back from escaping from Sharpe and murdering anyone who gets in his way.

That same night Sharpe meets Helena. He wants her, but she is too far above him and he fears the ridicule that would he heaped upon him. I suspect Helena falls for our Richard partly because of his reticence as she blows hot and cold on him.

It’s fortunate for Wellington and Hogan that Richard and his men have seen Leroux’s face; they receive a special duty to keep watch on the three adjoining forts. Once the forts are captured, Sharpe and his men must find Leroux. A very tricksy man who almost makes it…again and again.

The Characters

Captain Richard Sharpe seems secure in his current rank. That breach at Badajoz had to help. Sharpe’s wife, Teresa, comes to Salamanca with their daughter, Antonia.

His Company consists of…
Sergeant Patrick Harper, an Ulsterman who is a gentle but ferocious warrior who is still with Isabella (see Sharpe’s Company); the 16-year-old Ensign McDonald; Daniel Hagman, the former poacher from Cheshire is still the best shot; Parry Jenkins; Lieutenant Harold “Harry” Price has managed to stay alive; Private Batten is still whining; and, Sergeants McGovern and Huckfield. Lieutenant Colonel Windham has finally come to appreciate Sharpe; he is quite the bluff Englishman who knows that only English dogs and English foods are acceptable while any gentleman has honor. Major Forrest is still with the regiment, and Major Leroy has risen up a rank.

Friends of Sharpe include…
Captain Lossow of the King’s German Legion and Major Michael Hogan who is in charge of Wellington’s intelligence service. Captain Jack Spears (a lord) is an Exploring Officer with a major gambling problem who befriends Sharpe; he’s one of the original goodtime boys. Major Colquhoun Grant is mentioned in passing as having been captured.

Salamanca, Spain
Father Patrick Curtis is an Irish priest who hates the English and is a professor of astronomy and natural history at the University of Salamanca. Brigadier General Bowes has a brief appearance. La Marquesa de Casares el Grande y Melida Sadaba, Helena, is staying in the family home in Salamanca and falls in love with Richard. El Mirador is the code name for the spy Leroux wants to capture.

The French
Lieutenant Colonel Philipe Leroux of the Imperial Guard is a ruthless monster and the Emperor’s man. He will do anything, say anything to achieve his objective. His signature is to remove all the skin from a man he’s questioning, leaving a square inch in which to sign his name.

The battles here are up against Auguste Marmont, Marshal of France and Duke of Ragusa, who is the son of an ironmaster.

The Cover

This cover is another black-and-white sketch with a bit of watercolor as swords clash and horses charge against a white background. A narrow black border at the top showcases Cornwell’s name.

The title is accurate enough as Sharpe ends up with two swords between which he must choose: Harper’s gift or the glorious Kligenthal as to which will be Sharpe’s Sword.