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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2015
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While the Battle of Assaye (covered in Sharpe's Triumph) was a major defeat for the Mahratti forces of the confedration of western Indian kingdoms, Lt. Dodd, the renegade Englishman who has become Sharpe's personal target for revenge for the killing of Colonel McCandless, has retreated with his intact regiment, Dodd's Cobras, to the impregnable mountain fortress of Gawilghur. There, with the remnants of the Mahratti army, he plans to defeat the English army under Wellesley which must atttack and defeat Dodd if the English are to have any control and peace in the region. Confident of defending the fortress, Dodd intends to become Rajah of western India after destroying Wellesley's forces at Gawilghur.

Meanwhile, Sharpe--now Ensign Sharpe, having been promoted after saving Wellesley's life at Assaye--is miserable trying to fit in as an officer in a Scots regiment. He is also forced to coexist with his Nemesis, Sgt. Hakeswill, who has lost none of his enthusiasm to see Sharpe killed (preferably slowly and in great pain) and to steal the Sultan Tippoo's jewels which Hakeswill now knows Sharpe owns. Incapable by his malevolent nature of refraining from whatever evil comes to hand, Hakeswill, partnered by a degenerate officer, steals weapons and other military stores and sells them to the enemy. Sharpe discovers the treasonous scam by accident, and this provides Hakeswill an opportunity to kill Sharpe and steal his jewels.

Sharpe is captured by Hakeswill and turned over to the enemy, but Sharpe manages to escape. He rejoins the army as it prepares to assault Gawilghur. The rest, as they say, is history.

Oh yes, there is a love interest, but in this book, Sharpe is the object of a double whammy as he loses not one but two women!

Cornwell has few peers for this particular genere of historical action-adventure. The book is well researched; Cornwell provides an affterword of several pages explaining where he distorted history for the sake of the plot, and what the fortress looks like today.

You care about the characters--you worry about Sharpe and his friends, and curse his enemies.

Cornwell writes batttle scenes as well as Patrick O'Brain ever wrote the naval equivalent for the Aubrey/Maturin series; it would not be a surprise if Cornwell used O'Brian as an overall model. The one difference, I would say, is that O'Brian wrote memorable female characters who were integral to the series, whereas Cornwell's women are indifferently drawn and forgettable. Whether he emulated O'Brian or not, Cornwell's Sharpe series is outstanding in its own right. The climactic battle for Gawilghur is a real thriller--I could not put the book down until I finished, racing through the pages to the end.

Highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2009
With any Sharpe novel you know you are going to get a fast-paced, well told story and plenty of action. This is no exception. Here our hero must battle the prejudices of his own comrades as he rises to the rank of Ensign as well as the forces of Gawilghur lead by old enemy William Dodd and arch nemesis Obadiah Hakeswill, Sharpe's nemesis from the first two books. The early chapters, describing Sharpe's exposure of his Captain's corruption and subsequent kidnap are lively and interesting. Once again, as punishment for his honesty, Sharpe finds he must fight a couple of enormous local thugs known as Jettis and once again he eventually prevails. It as at this point where the novel begins to struggle a bit. It is difficult to see why Cornwell could not at least invent some other evil for Sharpe to overcome. The Jetti fight is almost identical to that in Sharpe's Tiger. Following the fight Sharpe basically seems to do what he wants, wandering from regiment to regiment at will and pretty much making his own orders. Of course we allow Cornwell a good bit of licence with Sharpe in the name of good story-telling but this really does stretch credulity a little too far. The Siege itself is well told and Sharpe conducts himself with his usual daring aplomb but again there are some things which are difficult to accept. It is never fully explained for example, why after taking the outer Fort, the British cannot simply wait and starve their opponents instead of ploughing recklessly forward on the same afternoon. This is not to say that in reality there was not a very pressing reason, it is just that is not explained here. Instead the capture of the fort feels a little too inevitable. Throughout the early chapters we are endlessly reminded of the impregnability of the `Fortress in the Sky' and yet ultimately it does not seem that tricky to capture it. Maybe these criticisms are a little harsh but Cornwell has set himself high standards and the first two `Indian prequels' were first class. It just feels that Cornwell was a little lazy with this one. Perhaps just a bit too keen to finish Sharpe's Indian adventures and ship him off to Trafalgar.
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on 18 July 2009
Being a great fan of Horatio Hornblower (books and films alike), I was immediately fascinated by his infantry counterpart and decided to follow this new career more closely when I first got acquainted with Richard Sharpe in Sharpe's Prey - a book I primarily bought because it takes place in my country, Denmark.
In this, the chronologically third, book about Richard Sharpe, the newly appointed ensign, who was taken from his cosy billet in Seringapatam by his mentor, Colonel McCandless, to pursue a murderous renegade across most of India, is struggling to succeed in his new role as officer and gentleman. However, despite his lowly origins, Sharpe repeatedly proves himself the better man as he fights cowardly and dishonest fellow officers between brushes with the enemy.
Possibly it is my lack of military background that makes it difficult for me to follow the battle descriptions blow by blow. It is certainly not for lack of detail and it did not spoil my pleasure, although I did find myself a little confused about the geography of Gawilghur which led to much turning of pages back and forth.
My only real regret is Sharpe's willingness to once again trust others to dispose of his old arch enemy, Sergeant Hakeswill. Having unsuccessfully thrown Hakeswill to the tigers and left him with trampling elephants, he really should know better by now.
As always, I appreciated Bernard Cornwell's careful research and his attention to detail, but mostly his very candid criticism of the worst aspects of military life in the British army at the time. Also I enjoy the historical note which never fails to give credit where due. I am sure that in these circumstances Sir Colin Campbell would be quite pleased to lend the honour temporarily to Richard Sharpe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 1999
Sharpe's Fortress is the best of the Cornwell's novels chronicling our hero's adventures in India, but it still lacks the character development of the books set in the Peninsula campaign. Hakeswill never appeared to be much of a threat and was unecessary as a foil for Sharpe since Dodd, a much more interesting foe, was present. The idea that the fortress actually existed and was attacked by Scottish and Sepoy troops makes the novel all the more fascinating and exciting. All in all, a fun and quick read and a welcome addition to the series.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2000
Once again Bernard Cornwell provides his followers with more of his famous character--Richard Sharpe. Continuing his series of "prequals" to Sharpe's Rifles, Cornwell has Sharpe suffer a bit more in India against foes both new and old to the reader. Cornwell notes that he has taken major liberties as an author by inserting his fictional character into the final battle, but it still a wonderful story. What I enjoyed was finding out the details behind the Sharpe story...such as how he got his telescope and his scar. We also have our first introduction to the Rifles that we will come to know and love so much. I can't wait to see how Sharpe loses his fortune, since we know he is penniless in Sharpe's Rifles. All in all...a good story in a wonderful series!
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on 9 August 2014
I have read a lot of Bernard Cornwall but having been introduced to his books through the series of earlier historical periods, I have come to Sharpe late in the day. Having enjoyed other stories very much I made a point of starting the Sharpe series at the start of Sharpe's career with the intention of reading the lot (although I hadn't realised that the first 3 stories were written later.).

I have to say that these 3 books really disappoint. They are not bad but they seem to lack the imagery and characterisation of some of his other work. The battle scenes appear to be the be all and end all and we are encouraged to be thrilled by rather than appalled at the savagery displayed. At times it makes for uncomfortable reading and makes you dislike the hero of the book.

Other reviewers who are fans of the earlier written Sharpe books seem to feel that the mini series charting Sharpe's earlier career are worthy additions. If that is the case then I can no doubt expect more of the same if I read on. Whilst the books are OK I think 3 of Sharpe is quite enough and I'll move onto something else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 1999
A really enjoyable read from a brilliant author. You'll probably read it in one sitting as the storyline is so absorbing. I felt that this book was even better than 'Triumph' and it further develops the character of Richard Sharpe. It definately lives up to the standard of the previous books and concludes the India series very well.
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on 2 January 2014
I confess I had never read a Sharpe novel until I saw the series on TV a few years ago, though I have read and
enjoyed the Starbuck series.
Since then, I have read a few of the Sharpe series and I downloaded 3 over Christmas onto my Kindle.

I give this 3.5 stars because it was an o.k. read and I enjoy Sharpe's insubordinate nature. However, for me it was a
little boring with the guns laying siege to the walls of the enemy fortress, and the enemy firing back. How often can
you describe this?

When the book concentrated on Sharpe and his relations to his fellow officers and former colleagues - most of whom resent
him for one reason or other - then the book held my interest. At other times, it didn't.

I am sure those interested in the history of India at this time, will enjoy the book very much.

I will read the other books I downloaded at some time and review them.
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on 7 April 2014
This si my 3rd sharpe When i read the first I said it was predicatable , and was'nt really sure wether to read any more ,however I find I am getting hooked , sharpe has a charmed life, as has sgt haweswill , and I am intrigued as to wether he will reappear , or wether the serpents got him. , I enjoyed the book found it to be a real page turner , and one thing I do like is that at the end the facts of the real events are revealed . whilst reading the book I imagined that there would be thousand of casuaalities , but in fact there were 150 on the british side,which comprised mainly scottish and indian troops .Sean Bean is well cast in the tv portrayal and he is the image I have when i am reading , a real yorkshire man who tells it the way it really is. I am now reading trafalgar , sharpe is on a sailing ship on his way back to england , with his loot from the wars and methinks he may not have it for long . We shall see!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2013
I purchased this book for my husband who is a keen Cornwell/Sharpe reader and has many titles in paperback. I am now trying to convert him to Kindle but the Kindle version doesn't have the maps which are in the paper version and spoiled his enjoyment of the book. Why???
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