I have stayed in and explored both Cuidad Rodrigo and Badajoz - altough technically/historically, in the wrong order. I had read "Sharpe's Company" before visiting these fine places, and once again I must say that Bernard Cornwell and his friend Richard Sharpe provided me with a first class insight into the events which culminated in Wellington's capture of these vital fortress towns. What comes across best is the sheer size and apparent impossibility of the task - standing outside the walls, your money would always be on the defenders. Back to the novel though. Leaving aside the historical accuracy of "Company," borne of Mr. Cornwell's meticulate research, what the reader cannot fail to appreciate is the absolute terror of siege warfare in the Napoleonic age. Here we learn about two of Wellington's most important successes of the Peninsular War, both coming in 1812. Followed in the Summer by his brilliant victory at Salamanca, that year was truly the turning point of Napoleon's fortunes in Europe. (Things didn't go particularly well in the East either). The sub-plot finds our old friend Sgt.Obadiah Hakeswill returning to make Sharpe's life a misery. This time he avoids death in the bloody breaches at Badajoz by feigning death, and once inside the walls he finds and attempts to rape Sharpe's wife, killing one of our hero's friends in the process. Sharpe arrives in the nick of time, but Hakeswill escapes, and although we know he will meet his maker eventually, I personally feel that this would have been the opportune moment for Sharpe's ultimate revenge. "Battle," "Company," and "Sword" are, for me at least, the most entertaining and historicaly enlightning of the series. Coming, as they do, consecutively in chronological order, they make for the ultimate Sharpe trilogy, and I would recommend the Sharpe/Peninsula enthusiast to take time out to read all three one after the other. Clive Witcomb. Birmingham, England. January 2000.