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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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As always, I encourage you to read the books in this series in the order of the chronology they describe rather than by publication date. Mr. Cornwell has come back again and again to "fill in" between books with other books. You'll enjoy the series more in a logical order.

At the current time, this is the 14th book in the chronological series.

After the desperate battles to throw the French out of Portugal and to enter Spain by breaching two fortresses, the British and their Portuguese and Spanish allies are near Salamanca looking to set up a battle that they can win decisively against the larger French forces.

As the book opens, the dangerous French Colonel Laroux has extracted some important information about a British spy ring through torture. But he's made a mistake and taken too long. He's at risk to be captured. Being a capable dissembler, Laroux soon has most of the British fooled . . . but not Sharpe. Laroux soon shows his true colors and the British realize it's essential that they contain Laroux's information before their spies are killed.

In the process, Sharpe becomes fascinated by Laroux's sword and begins to wish it were his. You'll begin to wonder how that might occur.

Next, Wellington has the relatively simple task of seizing three forts against far from extreme opposition after the main French army retreats. But it proves to be more difficult than expected. Someone has tipped off the French about when and where the attack will come.

Sharpe meanwhile is drawn into the party life of the Spanish aristocracy, finding himself drawn to the alluring La Marquesa despite being a newly married man. Is she also interested?

Sharpe is now asked to solely focus on Laroux, and a fascinating sequence of unexpected events ensues.

In the second half of the book, you'll find many more surprises than most Sharpe novels contain. As the historical note at the end indicates, many of these surprises follow the facts of the real history pretty closely. Within that framework, Mr. Cornwell has added his magic touch to weave some imaginary plots involving fictional characters that work seamlessly together. It's very nice!

Although the battle writing cannot be nearly as engaging as usual because the nature of the battles here provide a less interesting factual basis for the descriptions, there are still some pretty neat touches in giving us a sense of how Wellington won the day against the crafty and determined marshal Marmont.
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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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Richard Sharpe, who alone can recognise the top French spy, is under orders to capture him alive. Richard Sharpe is once again at war. But this time his enemy is just one man - the ruthless Colonel Leroux. Sharpe's mission is to safeguard El Mirador, a spy whose network of agents is vital to British victory. Sharpe is forced into a new world of political and military intrigue. And in unfamiliar surroundings of aristocratic Spanish society, his only guide is La Marquesa - a woman with her own secrets to conceal...Soldier, hero, rogue - Sharpe is the man you always want on your side. Born in poverty, he joined the army to escape jail and climbed the ranks by sheer brutal courage. He knows no other family than the regiment of the 95th Rifles whose green jacket he proudly wears.
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on 4 March 2014
I am a devoted fan of the tv series and actually watch it every time it is on no matter how many times I have seen it. As an avid reader it was only natural that I should buy the complete set of these books and I am really looking forward to reading them, I just hope they don't let me down.
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on 5 September 2005
I picked up this book after reading all the sharpe books in chronicological order from Sharpe's tiger where we experience Private Sharpe in India, reading and learning how he foight to rise to Captain Richard Sharpe of the South Essex's Light Company. This book is absolutely brilliant, a great triumph for Bernard Cornwell(i recommend the Last Kingdom as well). We learn that shar[e becomes entangled in a world of spies and politics, his loving affar for the La Marqueasa and his bitter hatred for the renowned french spy Colonel Leroux his is threatening the entire of Britians spy network ranging from Paris to the coasts of Portugal. The book also contains Sharpe's near death (he was shot in the stomach, a near fatal wound) and once again we experience the private humour between Sharpe, Sergeant Harper (Sharpe's closest companion and friend) and Lieutenant Price (one of Sharpe's officers). I recommend this book to any Bernard Cornwell fan, no, any historucal fiction fan who is looking for a fantstic book to read. Deserves more than 5 stars!!
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on 24 June 2014
Yes, I've watched the tv series, but am now addicted to the books which are so much more. Well researched and always with notes from the author about how it links into actual events (or not). I didn't even know I liked the Peninsular way til now. Plus it's the only way I can take Sean Bean to bed.
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on 26 May 2011
it's been ages i hadn't read any sharpe novel, so i decided to snatch this one and have a bloody good read. Oddly, or rather psychologically, when it comes to women, we find Sharpe a very peculiar person , he does not have any conversational tone when he e...ncounters a woman. Moreover, he is always passively oblivious espacially when he is teased as if she had to undress herself maniacally to show him her sexual desire. And i am not quite certain why the author had to manfest Sharple's inner self beying's trauma at all times. Paradoxically, when it comes to battlefield and military campaigns sharpe has demonstarted himself as the sole survivor unmercyful son of a gun person with a sarcastic attititude , and quite godsend revengeful espacially when he finally defeated the french Colonel Leroun and looted his bloody sword.
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on 7 July 2012
Very unhappy when received . The book cover was not as illustrated and in poor condition .
My son was very upset as he is collecting the Sharpe series and all the covers needed to be the same style.
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on 2 April 2012
From the first time I read a Bernard Cornwall novel I knew I had to try one of the Sharpe books. I didn't know where to start so I just bought one - I was not disappointed, hid story telling is first rate and the detail he goes into makes you think you are there on Sharpe's shoulder.
I would recommend that anyone interested in the books should do a quick search on the internet so you know which one to buy first and do start at the beginning, you'll not be disappointed!
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VINE VOICEon 22 October 2008
I loved this book. It's a change of direction for Sharpe and shows a vunerable Sharpe, but that's why I liked it. I love the usual Sharpe formula, but after reading over 10 books of this series so far it was a nice change.
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