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4.8 out of 5 stars46
4.8 out of 5 stars
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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".
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Major Sharpe, in the bitter winter, must attempt a desperate rescue and face his most implacable enemy. Newly promoted, he is given the task of rescuing a group of well-born women, held hostage high in the mountains by a rabble of deserters. And one of the renegades is Sergeant Hakeswill, Sharpe,s bitter enemy. Sharpe has only the support of his own company and the new Rocket Troop - the last word in military incompetence - but he cannot afford to contemplate defeat. For to surrender or to fail would mean the end of the war for the Allied armies...Soldier, hero, rogue - Sharpe is the man you always want on your side.
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I highly recommend that you read Sharpe's Enemy in the order of the chronology that it reflects. Although this book was number six in the original publication sequence, Sharpe's Enemy is fifteenth in chronological order of events.

As the book opens, Sharpe receives an unexpected message that changes his expectations quite a lot. He also gets a surprise when he's asked to evaluate a new unit, one employing Congreve's rockets (a la The Star Spangled Banner). From there, he is asked to perform the dangerous task of delivering a ransom for Lady Farthingale . . . without much expectation that this will work. Ever vigilant, Sharpe realizes that he will need to keep his eyes open for a possible later rescue. The ransom attempt brings two big surprises.

As the story develops, Sharpe finds himself in a typically uncomfortable position operating under a leader who is a fool and treats Sharpe with contempt. Eventually, the story develops into an extremely imaginative battle sequence that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Before the book is over you'll find your emotions going up and down like a yo-yo. It's great fun.

My only complaint about the book is that Mr. Cornwell mostly ignores actual history in developing his story. As a result, the developments lack the impact of realizing that amazing sequences are pretty close to what actually happened.

Pay attention to your instincts!
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on 12 August 2014
Bernard Cornwell is, in my opinion [for whatever that is worth] the best historical author currently working in the world of narrative fiction; based upon real-life historical events. He pulls no punches in respect to the often extremely violent reality of life during the wide ranging periods of human history he has covered. The net result is an authentic and often contemporary feel, featuring a cast of flawed characters that the modern day reader can identify with [in some cases], and entertained by until it becomes quite addictive.
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on 10 January 2003
I have read all of the Sharpe novels. This is the best. I take it out on a cold winter night every couple of years to find a cast of truly remarkable characters who have become old friends: the indestructable Patrick Harper and the rest of the Green Jackets: Harry Price is there with the Red Coats: evil and dangerous enemies Obadiah Hakeswill and Pierre Ducos: the incomparable "Lady" Josefina; Sharpe's incredible wife, Teresa; Two new allies appear in this story: Major General Nairn, who is introduced in one of the most hilarious and outlandish accounts in any of the Sharpe books, and "Sweet" William Frederickson,a thoughtful intellectual looking for a fight; Hogan and Wellington and a courageous French colonel who allies himself with Sharpe round out the cast. This book has humor, action, adventure, and tragedy. As a new Major, Sharpe shows that he can outthink and outfight his enemies, both foriegn and domestic! It is the supreme Sharpe story!
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on 19 November 2013
I have read and enjoyed this book so decided to purchase a copyas a birthday gift for my son. the copy I received was not the one I ordered. it was in a very poor condition and x library with new jersey free library stamp inside and library card pocket glued on back page. not suitable for a present. amazon have kindly given me a full refund and the book has been donated to a local charity shop.This would not put me off buying from amazon again your customer care is excellent.
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on 29 August 2011
Leaving aside narrative, character, plot for the moment, this is a shocking edition. Typos (or OCR errors) on every page. Characters threaten to LOL each other, and the piquets breed twice during the night. Sometimes the meaning evades even the best guesswork.

Other Kindle editions in this series are exemplary; well-produced and edited. This one, for some reason, falls apart every few dozen words.

Hope that they replace it with a better copy. It's worth the struggle.
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on 24 November 2011
Having been a Bernard Cornwall 'late starter' I just can't get enough now. I started with The Grail Quest, moved on to The Saxon Stories and then discovered Sharpe. Starting late does mean I can read the Sharpe books in chronological order and can only say that Sharpe's Enemy was the best yet. (And all the others were pretty damn good). So on to No16, Sharpe's Honour, try them, they won't disappoint.
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on 9 September 2014
One of the best of the Sharpe series - Hakeswill should get his own novel. I love the characterisation and is the definitive nemesis to poor Sharpe.

David Cook, author of Liberty or Death (The Soldier Chronicles Book 1) and Heart of Oak (The Soldier Chronicles Book 2)
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on 31 December 2010
If you have got this far in the Sharpe books you know what's coming.
Hardship, visceral fighting, appreciative women and victory.
Cornwell and Sharpe seldom disappoint.
If this is your 1st Sharpe book stop now and go back to the beginning,
Sharpe's Tiger you wont be disappointed.
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