Book Review: Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Fury: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Barrosa

Posted February 21, 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 Fury: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Barrosa

Sharpe's Fury: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Barrosa


Bernard Cornwell

historical fiction, military fiction that was published by HarperCollins on September 1, 2006 and has 352y 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 Sword, Sharpe's Enemy: The Defense of Portugal, Christmas 1812, Sharpe's Honor, Sharpe's Regiment

Eleventh in the historical military fiction series revolving around Captain Richard Sharpe and the Peninsular War. It’s March 1811, and the British Army is intending to keep Cádiz.

My Take

Typical. It is interesting that Cornwell makes all the incompetent generals assholes and all the competent ones are either down-to-earth or realistic about war. Moon’s biggest problem is his class and his own selfish, racist, myopic character. All that befalls him…serves him right.

Oh man, I just don’t understand the reasoning behind putting men like General Lapeña, a.k.a., Doña Manolito, in charge of the Spanish forces — he is such an idiot!!! Doesn’t Spain want to kick out the French? Don’t they want their country back?? One of these books, a Spaniard is going to have to show some backbone! Although, it’s not just the Spanish officers. There’s an Englishman, General Whittingham, in the Spanish service who is also a coward with no sense of honor.

The soldiers do crack me up. In other stories, Cornwell has enemies swapping sausages, wineskins, carving chess pieces. In this one, Richard’s men take a break to let the French have a wee in the river. I did like Henry Wellesley, he was so very kind to Sharpe, especially in the face of Moon’s enmity.

Poor Richard. I found that I have such high expectations, I was expecting him to win the battle singlehandedly… He certainly exceeded expectations in other areas! Pumps really shouldn’t underestimate our Richard…now that Richard has learned what happened to Astrid.

As intense as the battle at Bassao is, it’s really just an opportunity to create an about-face from Moon and let Sharpe get back at another. The real intensity during the battle is reading as the Spanish completely avoid the battle — taking naps, playing cards in plain sight! — while their allies, the British battle fiercely against superior odds.

Ah well, it’s a parallel plot for a bit with Father Montseny busy with his sabotage and his own form of plotting with a dash of foreshadowing.

The Story

The mission is to destroy the pontoon bridge between Forts Joseph and Josephine, but it all goes to pot when the Brigadier gets involved and has to show off. Oh, the bridge blows up all right…with Moon, Sharpe, some of his Rifles, and a few of the Connaught Rangers on it, and they go drifting down the Guadiana River.

And Moon has a broken leg. He alternates between demanding they find a doctor…as they drift down the river dodging French bullets…and insisting that the few men they have paddle the six-barge chunk of bridge to shore with their rifle butts. Yup, he is one realistic boy! Naturally, everything that goes wrong is Sharpe’s fault including their almost getting caught in a tiny village they linger in to allow Moon to have a “proper” doctor look at the broken leg.

Luckily, they practically run into friendlies, but end up back in Cádiz where Sharpe discovers he’s in demand for his unique talents.

Meanwhile Captain Plummer and his men are about to fall for the con. Father Montseny doesn’t realize he’s minor league when it comes to a con, although it does help that Sharpe comes up against a true patriot, Captain Galiana.

The Characters

Captain Richard Sharpe, while in command of the South Essex Light Company, is down to five men in this particular operation after getting separated from his men. The men include Sergeant Patrick Harper; Daniel Hagman, a poacher from home; Harris; Perkins; Slattery; Sergeant Huckfield; Carter; and, Lieutenant Jack Bullen is still with us…sort of. The men of the 88th, the Connaught Rangers, along for the ride include Sergeant Noolan, Private Geoghegan, Fergal, and Padraig.

Brigadier General Sir Barnaby Moon sees Sharpe as a rival and an upstart. Moon wants to be the one doing the heroics. Lieutenant Sturridge is the engineer in command of setting the charges to blow up the bridge. Jethro McCann is the surgeon on board the HMS Thornside. Captain Pullifer came up through the hawse hole like Sharpe. Major Duncan, an artillery officer, is a very temporary roommate with Sharpe while he makes an excellent impression on Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Graham, the commander on Isla de Leon. Lord William “Willie” Russell is his aide.

The British Foreign Office
Henry Wellesley, His Britannic Majesty’s Envoy Extraordinaire to Spain [and the Duke of Wellington’s little brother!], a.k.a., el Cornudo, has urgent need of Sharpe’s abilities; seems Henry was indiscreet. James Duff is the British Consul in Cádiz and advises Henry. Lord William “Pumps” Pumphrey of the Foreign Office has arrived to handle the situation, and he learns just how dangerous Sharpe can be.

Father Salvador Montseny is a Spanish zealot with a hatred for the English after spending time with Admiral the Marquis de Cardenas as a “guest” of the English after the Battle of Trafalgar. Somehow, I don’t think God will be as accepting of murder and blasphemy as the father thinks. Both men want the old Spain back, the one of king and church. Eduardo Nuñez is the publisher of the El Correo de Cádiz and will be forced to help the “good” father. Benito Chavez is the forger who is, poor boy, deprived of his alcohol and smokes.

Gonzalo Jurado is Caterina’s pimp with an eye to making money any way he can. Caterina Veronica Blazquez has a number of secrets she uses to supplement her career as a whore.

Marshal Victor is the opposing French commander. Captain Lecroix of the 8th and Colonel Henri Vandal is his commanding officer who turns the rules of war on and off as it suits him.

Joana is still with Harper even though she doesn’t actually appear. The only other regulars who get a mention include Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable William Lawford still in command of the South Essex; and, Lieutenant Knowles.

The Cover and Title

The cover is by Steve Stone, and the background is split into an almost black with Richard Sharpe looking pretty tidy in his uniform on a night battlefield, cocking his rifle as the skeleton of a barn burns in the background. The lower third of the cover is an aged parchment showcasing the author’s name.

The title is rather weak — Sharpe is always in a fury!