Most helpful critical review
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Lots of overly-familiar themes - deja vu?
on 29 April 2013
This Sharpe is different from the Sharpe in the previous chronological novel 'Sharpe's Fury' - the 'bugger' and 'bastard' count is up, for a start. Also, Sharpe appears to have regressed in his acceptance of being an officer. In 'Fury' he (reasonably) is showing signs of sophistication as the effects of constantly rubbing shoulders with his betters takes toll of his early rough and ready persona. Here, we return to the surly and resentful Sharpe. We also have a return to Sharpe Superhero - turning the tide of a battle. What seems to have happened is that the author, dedicating this book to Sean Bean, has decided to make his hero more in the mould of Bean's portrayal of the character on telly.
This novel introduces two potentially very strong characters - Loup, the leader of the French Wolf Brigade, and a Mata Hari type female with a fondness for skin-tight male military uniforms. Sharpe has sex with the latter, but just once - she's not really his type and has zero sex appeal. Loup is a thoroughly bad person, with no redeeming features. This makes him very one-dimensional, and one waits eagerly for his inevitable demise at the hands of our hero - to avoid the tedium of having to read about him any more. The literary potential of both these characters is utterly wasted; they should both be terrifying but one is simply boring and the other too ridiculous to be taken seriously. There is also an initially unidentified spy who is trying to forment rebellion in the considerable Irish contingent of Wellington's forces. Sadly, it is fairly obvious who this is from the beginning; in fact, on the basis of unnecessary prominence it is hardly a secret at all. Oh, and in case you're wondering, there is the usual complete fool of a senior officer who is threatening to Sharpe by virtue of his superior upbringing. But don't worry, Sharpe's Luck will no doubt win through. The battle scene at the end of the book is exciting enough, but even that tends to go on a bit. In his 'Historical Note' the author refers to the Battle of Feuntes de Oñoro as a victory for Britain and her allies. This is far from the case, even Wellington did not consider it such. It was essentially a draw with both sides relieved when France withdrew, unable to exploit her numerical superiority because of lack of artillery ammo.
You know what? I'm giving up on Sharpe. Life is too short to read the same book over and over again!