Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe’s Prey


The author of the swashbuckling Sharpe series of adventures fighting the French during the Napoleonic Wars, Bernard Cornwell is a premier writer of historical military adventures. This is one of only 90 numbered and signed copies in a special binding with an appreciation by the award winning espionage author and historian Anthony Price.

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Bernard Cornwell is the most prolific and best known author of historical adventure stories of his generation. His work is in the tradition of historical adventure established by G A Henty, C S Forester and his near contemporary George MacDonald Fraser. More than one critic has noted that the Sharpe adventures are like Hornblower on land. Richard Sharpe is a ranker and he uses his wit and charm to occasionally move in the higher echelons of society – much as a private detective does in say the Raymond Chandler mystery novels and his successors. This device allows Sharpe and his sidekick Harper to a kind of detective duo, to find things out, have some influence and to make alliances when favours need to repaid. But it is not just the machinations behind the scenes that Cornwell’s books are famous for; it is the action and rough and tumble on the battlefield (or sailing ship) that gets the adrenalin going.

Bernard Cornwell has written 21 books with Richard Sharpe and his colleagues serving against the French. Sharpe has become a hero figure and the Sharpe Appreciation Society frequently has many hundreds in attendance at its annual convention. This episode is about the high stakes of the huge Danish fleet and what the British do to prevent the French getting this valuable commodity. On a more personal level, betrayal and romance fit out the plot. This edition contains an appreciation by by the spy writer and historian Anthony Price.

Plotline: This tells the tale of one of the most obscure campaigns of the whole of the Napoleonic wars. The Danes had a huge merchant fleet, second only in size to Great Britain’s, and to protect it they possessed a formidable navy. But Denmark was a very small country and when, in 1807, the French decide they will invade Denmark and take the fleet for themselves, Britain has to act swiftly. Swiftly, but not particularly justly. Sharpe is inside Copenhagen when the dreadful and fateful bombardment begins.

4.00 out of 5

2 reviews for Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe’s Prey

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rating by Anthony Price on May 9, 2012 :

    Extract from the Appreciation by Anthony Price
    “Mr Cornwell has to hand that truly extraordinary ingredient, The British Army of Richard Sharpe’s time: that ever- victorious scum-of-the-earth, brutalised by the lash and mad for loot and drink, but led from the front against Napoleon’s hitherto unbeaten veterans in a long, bloody, yet surprisingly gentlemanly war which was yet fought alongside the hideous cruelties of the Franco-Spanish guerrilla struggle. Out of this unrivalled material and with a rewarding attention to detail Richard Sharpe and his adventures have been imagined so vividly. And in raising him from the ranks, Mr Cornwell is not pandering to popular taste. In fact, 5.4 per cent of Wellington’s line officers were promoted from the ranks (and, incidentally, only 17 per cent bought their commissions). So Sharpe is not unique. But it is what he is that matters: rough, surly, uncouth, angry, vengeful – really no gentleman, certainly no Hornblower – but also indomitable, loyal, gallant and peerless in combat, and above all a born leader of his beloved riflemen, Harry Smith’s “proper, saucy fellows” to the life. In an age when British history is sadly out of fashion we badly need Richard Sharpe”.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rating by Kirkus Reviews on May 9, 2012 :

    “The redoubtably prolific Cornwell, who has rounded out his revisionist Arthurian Warlord trilogy, filed four volumes in his Starbuck Civil War series, and now has 18 novels in his Richard Sharpe British Army series, plus other incidental novels about Stonehenge, etc., takes his hero Sharpe on the Expedition to Copenhagen of 1807. Sharpe, in the hip-hop fashion of Cornwell’s chronology, has already fought in the Waterloo Campaign in 1815 (Sharpe’s Waterloo), sailed to the New World in 1821 (Sharpe’s Devil) and most recently observed Nelson at Trafalgar (Sharpe’s Trafalgar, 2001) in 1805. Now, God’s teeth, how can it be, Sharpe not only is without woman but also without coin. Although he wants most to sell his battlefield commission for £450, he’s told battlefield commissions can’t be sold. Thus he must accept a post as quartermaster—and in addition is roped by the Honorable John Lavisser to carry a secret bribe to Denmark. But all is not well in Denmark, not with the French lusting to take over the Danish fleet. There is something splendid about Sharpe’s rugged leadership of British troops against the massed musketry of the Danes but not in the crippled children and widespread death of Danish civilians as the British bombard Copenhagen and set it afire.
    Rousing. At last count, 12 Sharpe novels had been filmed by PBS”. Kirkus Reviews

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