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Richard Sharpe takes his riflemen into Napoleonic France
on 18 December 2000
Described by Sharpe's creator Bernard Cornwell as his personal favourite amongst the series of novels, Sharpe's Siege is yet another class act.
Sharpe and his henchmen Harper and Frederickson are once more up against desperate odds - battling the old enemy for the first time on French territory as well as striving to make the best of a bad officer lot. The difference this time is that it is the naked and naïve ambition of a Royal Naval captain and the treachery of a French sympathiser that puts Sharpe and his men in danger of their lives. Sharpe, a recently married man, is also in great fear for the well-being of his wife - from whom he has been separated by the powers-that-be just as she seems to have contracted a deadly fever from Sharpe's old mentor, Major Hogan.
Things are not looking good when Sharpe's riflemen are abandoned after a coastal hit and run raid on a fortress goes wrong, courtesy of the inept naval officer. Being set in 1813 with Britain facing up to not only the French but also the United States, Cornwall takes the opportunity to give Sharpe a further adversary with whom to contend as a seagoing American privateer and his crew add fuel to the mix. And as if this isn't enough, Sharpe's old nemesis, Pierre Ducos, arrives to exact personal revenge against the battle-scarred rifleman. The rifleman and his assorted collection of greenjackets and marines dig in deep in an attempt to hold the fortress until succour arrives.
Sharpe is at his most ruthless and compassionate as he tries to keep his cold, hungry and war weary troops safe. Cornwell is certainly right to rank Sharpe's Siege as one of the more outstanding escapades of his most well known creation, Major Richard Sharpe.