Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sharpes Triumph

I grew up watching the Sharpe television series and was a huge fan of it. The glory days when ITV could actually produce good television.

I have never read any of the books before, and this is chronologically the second book in the series of 24 that Bernard Shaw wrote with the Sharpe character.

I was expecting it to be full of men who swear at each other but salute their officers. Big battles, and busty women -  whom are always addressed as me lady. A devilish plot with some twisting and turning, and everyone coming home in time for tea as heroes.

I wasn’t disappointed. The book has all those things in it.

The main battle that the story is set against is the Battle of Assaye where Wellesely defeated an army of a 100’000 of the Maratha with just under 10’000 troops. Sharpe starts of the book at the rank of Sergent and through the events becomes part of Wellesely Staff.  Due to his actions and people he meets,he is raised to the rank of Ensign by the end of the book.

The battle takes up a big chunk of the book, and I’m sure there is enough detail in the ranks, battle orders to appease the historian as well as the reader. (wargamers as well it seems)

I don’t think its fair to call it two dimensional, as its a very honest work in the sense of the characters are well defined, the action a-plentiful and those elements, of which why I liked the Sharpe series are all there. This doesn't pretend at any stage to be anything which it is not - an action book with a historical setting.

I also think Bernard Cornwell has an excellent skill of mixing in the history with the fiction. But, there is not enough depth there that wants to be to rush out and buy the rest of the books. If I saw one of the books, in the left over holiday reading pile  I would however, likely pick it up. 

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