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Sharpe's Prey Paperback – 5 Jun 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Special Overseas Ed edition (5 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006513107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006513100
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2.7 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 420,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the Alfred series.

Product Description

Amazon Review

All of the Sharpe novels, not just the new one, Sharpe's Prey, feature genuinely complex plotting in which the reader is kept engaged not just by a central conflict but by a whole host of subplots handled as adeptly as his main narrative. How does Bernard Cornwell maintain such a high standard in his tales of historical derring-do and danger? The genre is a touch overcrowded these days, but Cornwell is unquestionably in the upper echelons, with a consistency that must give most of his rivals pause. It isn't just the formula that makes these books work so well (high-powered, vividly described action, conflicted protagonists risking both their lives and careers, impressive historical detail), it is another factor that has distinguished the author's books since his early work.

The year is 1807; Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is planning to leave the army. Against his better judgment, he is persuaded to accompany the Hon John Lavisser to Copenhagen in what is essentially an act of political skulduggery: they are to deliver a bribe and (hopefully) avert a war. But with the French ensuring that Europe remains at boiling point, Sharpe finds himself protecting his charge against French agents and struggling to ensure that the Danish battle fleet is not used to replace every French ship destroyed at Trafalgar. Sharpe is a character we know well and like, and his customary characteristics (tenacity, bloody-mindedness) are well to the fore here, but, as always, the other characters are equally strikingly drawn: Lavisser is a splendidly complex figure, as are several of Sharpe's nemeses. But it's that wonderfully adroit orchestration of action and plot that keeps the pulse racing, with the bombardment of Copenhagen and the massive bloodshed resulting in a truly impressive set piece:

Sharpe, from his vantage point on the dune, could see the smoke wreathing the wall. The city's copper spires and red roofs showed above the churning cloud. A dozen houses were burning there, fired by the Danish shells that hissed across the canal. Three windmills had their sales tethered against the blustering wind that blew the smoke westwards and fretted the moored fleet to the north of Copenhagen.

--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘The novel has plenty of action sequences, plenty of well-researched historical titbits, but the true glory of the Sharpe books lies in their characterisation.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘All the perfect ingredients for an action-packed and page-turning read.’ The Times

‘What a very fine writer Mr Cornwell has become’ The Economist

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Captain Henry Willsen of His Majesty's Dirty Half Hundred, more formally the 50th Regiment of West Kent, parried his opponent's saber. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Oct. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Having read ( and in several cases re-read) all of the Sharpe tales to date I now know what to expect from each subsequent entry in the series. There will be lots of action, plenty of swashbuckling, superb descriptions of battles and background scenes, regular love interest for our hero and of course vindication in the end for Sharpe and comeuppance for the villain. The stories are nearly always of a very high class, occasionally peerless i.e, Rifles, Gold, Battle & Revenge. The most recent novels including Trafalgar & this novel Prey have failed to attain the peak of earlier tales. Maybe the absence of Harper and Hakeswill (an unmatchable character!) has something to do with it. The plots are well written but don't seem to grab the reader as much as before. The love interest doesn't seem right coming as quickly as it seems to do on the heels of the previous one. Still I'm sure that it's impossible to be 5 stars with every novel and I look forward to the next one in this and every other BC series with just as much anticipation.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John Davidson on 28 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read all the other Sharpe novels, so it was inevitable that I would get round to this one sooner or later.
If you are a fan, you'll probably read it anyway. If not, I suggest you start elsewhere.
Not that this is badly written, but given its position in the chronology of the character (early but not at the start) and that it is the umpteenth book written by Cornwell about his most famous character (Richard Sharpe) I would be hard pressed to say it offered anything new or insightful about the character or the period.
A bit of background might help those who are interested.
Richard Sharpe is a fictional soldier in the British Army during the Napoleonic period.
The earliest novel (so far) is set in India in the 1799 and the latest is set in South America (mostly) in 1820-21, but the core novels and the earliest written are set in the Peninsular war (Britain & Portugal vs. France in conquered Spain) between 1809 and 1812 leading inevitably to Belgium and the fields at Waterloo.
If you can think of a major (or even minor) British military engagement in that time period, Cornwell has written a Richard Sharpe book about it (except the 'War of 1812' ..but it may yet come if he can get Sharpe there and back before waterloo).
This novel is set pre 1809 in the lovely city of Copenhagen and tells the story of the British attack on the city. The device that gets Sharpe there is a plot to bribe the Prince of Denmark into surrendering his fleet to the Brits to prevent the French from getting their hands on it (as a replacement for the fleet they lost at Trafalgar).
I wasn't aware previously that we had attacked Denmark or that we shelled the population of Copenhagen into surrender...
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MR DAVID C HUGHES on 20 April 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book sees Sharpe in a different role, to that of previous novels. Here there is little mention of battlefield fighting as we see Sharpe pushed into the world of espionage at the start of the Nineteenth Centuary. At the start we see Sharpe as a bitter and angry man. He has just lost his latest love, his fortune that he gained in India, taken by lawyers, and to top it all he has been given the job of Quartermaster with his regiment. In this sullen mood he goes awol from his post, and visits the dark streets of his childhood. After exacting revenge on the master of his former orphanage he finds himself in a tavern where he meets a general he knew in India. As a result of this meeting Sharpe finds himself on a boat to Denmark with a Guards officer on a desperate mission to prevent the Danish Fleet from falling into French hands. No sooner than he has landed in Denmark he discovers that the mission is doomed by treachery. Never one to let a few obstacle get in his way Sharpe finds his way to Copenhagen where he comes across a British Spy. At this point the story starts twisting and turning, leaving Sharpe guarded as to who he can or cannot trust. Eventually Sharpe is in the middle of Copenhagen whilst it is bombed by the British. During the confussion of the bombardment he manages to salvage what he can of the mission. Once started I was unable to put this book down. As always Cromwell had done a thorough job in his research, and gives vivid descriptions of events. I could really picture the bombardment as I was reading. The sub-plot was masterful in its conception, leaving me wondering at eacg turn of the page where the story was going next. This novel, I presume, takes the Sharpe adventures full circle to the start of the original novel (Sharpe's Rifles), and can only hope that there are more to come in the series. That said, it was nice to see a mention of Harper, even if it was only for a couple of pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 May 2001
Format: Hardcover
Ho hum Bernard. Is this is to be the end of the Sharpe novels? I truely hope not, however it does (just about) bring the storyline full circle (there are still many gaps in the timeline for you to fill Mr C).
Sorry, I digress. Sharpe's Prey is not the best Sharpe novel. Don't get me wrong - I thoroughly enjoyed it. The depiction of the streets of London and the revenge on an old acquaintance (don't want to give too much away) were delicious and in sharp contrast to the descriptions of the tidy neatness of Copenhagen and the lives of its residents. There were several stand out moments for me - top has to be Sharpe's triumph at unmasking the French agent - superb! The battle scenes too were (as you would expect from BC) top notch.
The only aspect of the book that didn't quite gel was the love interest - yes, so Sharpe had to get over the death of his ex (oops, another spoiler), but the relationship did not seem to develop in enough depth for the level of feeling that was supposed to have been generated. Only a little moan - must be turning misogonistic at an early stage of my life.
Anyway - another excellant read - lets hope it's not the last - doesn't have to be read in chronological order (as with all the series) but it does help.
Thumbs up from me!
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