Book Review: Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Regiment

Posted March 1, 2014 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 Regiment

Sharpe's Regiment


Bernard Cornwell

historical fiction, military fiction that was published by Penguin on June 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 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 Fury: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Barrosa, Sharpe's Enemy: The Defense of Portugal, Christmas 1812, Sharpe's Honor

On April 10, 2009, I did a VERY short review: “Love the battle, tactics, camaraderie, and the history.”

This time, I got into it a bit more, LOL.

Seventeenth in the Richard Sharpe fictional military history series and revolving around Major Richard Sharpe and the South Essex. This one takes place in England. Funny place to do battle with the regiment…

My Take

Heart-stopping as always! Richard is so terrifyingly naive. He scares me to death.

I love Cornwell’s descriptions, and the way in which he describes the “…plump…ripening orchards, grain fields bright with poppies, and pigs running free that could have fed an army corps for a week” that make England seem indeed a green and pleasant land. It’s certainly a change from the scrubby fields of Spain!

Poor Sharpe. Presented to the Prince of Wales, admired and honored, but pushed aside when there’s money to be made. And the prince is a nutjob. How can anyone like being surrounded by yes-men? Although, I suppose when you’re as nutty as George…

The truly horrible part is the greed of the army and its officers, how they steal the shillings from their own soldiers. We thought our soldiers today were poorly paid. They’re rich compared to these men.

You can’t help but laugh even as you hold your breath when Harper is being hunted and when they turn the depot at Chelmsford upside down. Treasure those moments for there is much too much of the anger this story will raise, for you know that this sort of disrespect and theft went on then, and still does.

The Story

Sharpe is temporarily in charge of the regiment since Lieutenant Colonel Leroy died a few weeks back at Vitoria. Only to find that the War Office wants the South Essex broken up, its colors sent home, and the brutal reputation the South Essex has achieved tossed in a heap.

But not if Sharpe can find the so-called non-existent Second Battalion in his race against the devils.

The Characters

Major Richard Sharpe has fought his way up from the ranks and is a brilliant tactician and rifleman. Sergeant Patrick Harper, an Ulsterman who has been with Sharpe through thick and thin, gets MacLaird’s job; his wife, Isabella, is pregnant. Captain Peter d’Alembord and Lieutenant Harry Price (he’ll replace Captain Thomas) come along with Sharpe to London.

Privates Daniel Hagman and Clayton are still here along with Angel (Sharpe’s Honour, 16). There’s also Regimental Sergeant Major MacLaird (d) and Lieutenant Andrews. Privates O’Grady, Kelleher, Rourke, Callaghan, Joyce, Donnell, the Pearce brothers, O’Toole, Fitzpatrick, and Halloran will do for Lynch.

Major General Nairn sends Sharpe to London to get his regiment.

Lord Simon Fenner, a politician and the Secretary of State at War, doesn’t want the South Essex to get its replacements. Anne Camoynes, the dowager Countess of Camoynes, refused Fenner’s offer of marriage so he’s destroyed her. The former Lieutenant Colonel Lawford is now the one-armed Sir William Lawford who catches up with Richard at the Horse Guards (Sharpe’s Company, 13).

Chelmsford Depot
Captain Carline, Lieutenant Merrill, and Lieutenant Pierce have no clue. Ted Carew is the armoury sergeant with a tale to tell.

Lieutenant Colonel Bartholomew Girdwood of the tarred and shaped mustache is currently in command of the Second Battalion, South Essex. He’s one of those with a fantasy of battle and war. Briggs is his batman. Sir Henry Simmerson is his patron, and he’s promised his niece, Jane Gifford, in marriage to Girdwood. Don’t know what will happen to her dog, Rascal! (She’s Christian Gifford‘s sister; see Sharpe’s Eagle, 8). Cross is Sir Henry’s London butler. Sergeant Horatio Havercamp is one of the best recruiters in the battalion. Captain Finch will be Girdwood’s partner in the hunt, Captain Hamish Smith, the barbaric, bullying Sergeant John Lynch, Sergeant Major Brightwell, Corporal Mason, Lieutenant Mattingley, and Captain Prior stick, while Lieutenant Ryker legs it.

The new recruits include Charlie Weller and his dog, Buttons; Tom is a half-wit; Giles Marriott enlisted for all the wrong reasons; Jenkinson is one of the convicts; and, Sharpe and Harper enlist as Vaughn and O’Keefe.

Horse Guards
Lord John Rossendale delivers the Prince of Wales’ invitation. Prince George, the Prince of Wales, is acting Regent for the king, and he greatly admires Sharpe. Prince Frederick, the Duke of York, and in charge of the army, does not. General Sir Barstan Maxwell is appalled, sir, appalled. Captain Mellors is in charge of the eagles.

St. Giles Rookery
Maggie Joyce rescued Sharpe when he ran away as a child, and she’ll rescue him again. She’s a gin goddess, a midwife, a procuress, and eight times a widow, for even Tom is gone. Cross-Eyed Moses will do the selling of Richard and Harper’s fortune. Messrs. Hopkinson are Sharpe’s army agents. Jem Lippett is one of the men after Sharpe. Belle works for Maggie.

The Cover and Title

The cover looks like a pen-and-ink sketch with some red and blue coloring against a white background. A black band across the top announces the author’s name while a graphic image below is of an exhausted man on horseback, carrying a rifle, and Richard Sharpe in a fine red coat urging the horse on with both the horse and Richard neck deep in water.

The title is what Sharpe seeks, for Sharpe’s Regiment is in danger and must be rescued from the greedy paper pushers.