Top positive review
24 people found this helpful
on 22 June 2001
Sharpe's Enemy is the first "Sharpe" novel I ever read, some twelve years ago. To this day it remains my all-time favourite, not only in this series but of any historical fiction. It contains all of Cornwell's best creations in terms of characters: in addition to Sharpe himself we see the indestructable Patrick Harper, the formiddable enemies Obadiah Hakeswill and Pierre Ducos. There is the "Lady" Josefina, and Sharpe's Spanish wife, Teresa. Two new allies are also introduced in this story: Major General Nairn, and "Sweet" William Frederickson who will both have important roles to play in later stories. Harry Price is there, as drunk as ever, and even Hogan and Wellington himself put in brief appearances.
In Sharpe's Enemy, there are, as ever, enemies on both sides. It is Cornwell's gift to depict complex characters which really come to life, and we expect nothing less from the master of this genre. However, in addiction to the excellent plot, and fine description of war in the Napoleonic era, this story has an extra touch of humour which is sometimes lacking in the others. This is not to say that readers, old and new, will not be deeply moved by the novel's ending.
In his Historical Note to the novel, Cornwell apologises for distorting facts somewhat. It is true that Sharpe seems to pop up in just about every major battle, and indeed many a casual skirmish, of the era, but the quality of the writing always seems to overcome these unlikely coincidences.
This is an essential read for any fan of Richard Sharpe, whether you are new to the series or not. In fact, my advice to any new readers is to start with the original series (Sharpe's Eagle was the first) before going back to the more recent "prequels".