Cover image for Sharpe's triumph : Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Assaye, September 1803
Title:
Sharpe's triumph : Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Assaye, September 1803
Author:
Cornwell, Bernard.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Pub., 1998.
Physical Description:
291 pages : map, 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780061012709
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"The greatest writer of historical adventures today."
--Washington Post

Critically acclaimed, perennial New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell (Agincourt, The Fort, the Saxon Tales) makes real history come alive in his breathtaking historical fiction. Praised as "the direct heir to Patrick O'Brian" (Agincourt, The Fort), Cornwell has brilliantly captured the fury, chaos, and excitement of battle as few writers have ever done--perhaps most vividly in his phenomenally popular novels following the illustrious military career of British Army officer Richard Sharpe during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe's hunt for a traitorous renegade British officer leads the courageous young sergeant straight into the fires and madness of India's Battle of Assaye in September 1803. Perhaps the San Francisco Chronicle said it best: "If only all history lessons could be as vibrant."


Author Notes

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, England, on February 23, 1944, and came to the United States in 1980. He received a B.A. from the University of London in 1967.

Cornwell served as producer of the British Broadcasting Corporation from 1969-1976. After this he was head of current affairs for BBC-TV in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1979 he became editor of television news for Thames Television of London. Since 1980 he has been a freelance writer. he lives with his wife on Cape Cod.

Cornwell's Sharpe series, adventure stories about a British soldier set in the Peninsula War of 1808-1814, are built on the author's interest in the Duke of Wellington's army. Titles include Sharpe's Rifles, Sharpe's Revenge, Sharpe's Siege, Sharpe's Regiment, and Sharpe's Waterloo. The Last Kingdom series has ten books. Book ten, The Flame Bearer is on the bestsellers list. He has also written other works including Wildtrack, Killer's Wake, Sea Lord, Stormchild, Rebel, Copperhead, and Battle Flag. His title Death of Kings made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2012 and In 2014 his title The Pagan Lord made the list again.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Cornwell continues to luxuriate in the details of battle in his continuing series of novels following the exploits of British soldier-adventurer Sergeant Richard Sharpe. In this latest Sharpe novel, Cornwell leaves aside the Napoleonic wars in Europe to concentrate on the rich terrain of colonial India. The story starts with a tense situation. The time is 1803, and a league of native Indian princes called the Mahratta Confederation is determined to resist British encroachment into its territories. A large quantity of ammunition has been stolen from the East India Company, and the Mahrattas are poised to pay top price for the stolen goods for use in their British resistance. The ammo has been recaptured, and it is Sharpe's job to see that it is safely returned to where it belongs. A renegade British major allied to the Mahratta princes attacks the fort where the ammo has been taken, massacres everyone (except for Sharpe, who fakes death), and runs off with the highly negotiable commodity. Now Sharpe is ordered to hunt down this rogue, and the road ultimately leads to involvement in a major battle, authentically, even gracefully, reconstructed here with the electric prose Cornwell is known for. Eminently successful historical fiction. --Brad Hooper


Publisher's Weekly Review

Followers of Cornwell's series featuring the exploits of British infantry officer Richard Sharpe (Sharpe's Rifles, et al.) in the Napoleonic wars (adapted for Masterpiece Theater) and in his earlier career in colonial India will relish this look at Sergeant Sharpe on the subcontinent in 1803. A fluke makes our hero unofficial aide to General Sir Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington, though it's never mentioned in the novel) at the time of the siege of Ahmednuggur and Wellesley's brilliant victory at Assaye against the Indian Mahratta Confederation and the turncoat forces of ex-English officer William Dodd. This was the beginning of the end of the Mahratta rebellion against the British and a turning point in the Raj's growing power. Among the book's rich cast of characters are Hakeswill, a murderous British sergeant determined to kill Sharpe; Simone Joubert, the needy wife of a French officer; and the colorful Hanoverian mercenary, Colonel Pohlmann, who leads the Mahratta forces from atop an elephant. Most roundly dimensional and representing the extremes of British society are Wellesley, the coldly brilliant and fearless son of an earl, and Sharpe himself, the tortured, unlettered bastard from London's slums, who is determined to rise. Cornwell contributes vivid details in descriptions of life in an army camp, the dual military regimes of the East India Company and the regular army, and Indian politics. Best are the battle scenes, laid out clearlyÄthere's a handy mapÄwith all the heat, stink and blood of war and "the joys of slaughter." The reader's pleasure in all this gore may be a guilty one, but Cornwell, a master of battlefield writing, makes it too exhilarating to forgo. 15-city NPR feature; 3-city author tour. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Back in his fourth hot adventure, Richard Sharpe faces a treasonous English officer in 1800s India. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Sharpe's Triumph Chapter One It was not Sergeant Richard Sharpe's fault. He was not in charge. He was junior to at least a dozen men, including a major, a captain, a subadar and two jemadars, yet he still felt responsible. He felt responsible, angry, hot, bitter and scared. Blood crusted on his face where a thousand flies crawled. There were even flies in his open mouth. But he dared not move. The humid air stank of blood and of the rotted egg smell made by powder smoke. The very last thing he remembered doing was thrusting his pack, haversack and cartridge box into the glowing ashes of a fire, and now the ammunition from the cartridge box exploded. Each blast of powder fountained sparks and ashes into the hot air. A couple of men laughed at the sight. They stopped to watch it for a few seconds, poked at the nearby bodies with their muskets, then walked on. Sharpe lay still. A fly crawled on his eyeball and he forced himself to stay absolutely motionless. There was blood on his face and more blood had puddled in his right ear, though it was drying now. He blinked, fearing that the small motion would attract one of the killers, but no one noticed. Chasalgaon. That's where he was. Chasalgaon; a miserable, thorn-walled fort on the frontier of Hyderabad, and because the Rajah of Hyderabad was a British ally the fort had been garrisoned by a hundred sepoys of the East India Company and fifty mercenary horsemen from Mysore, only when Sharpe arrived half the sepoys and all of the horsemen had been out on patrol. Sharpe had come from Seringapatam, leading a detail of six privates and carrying a leather bag stuffed with rupees, and he had been greeted by Major Crosby who commanded at Chasalgaon. The Major proved to be a plump, red-faced, bilious man who disliked the heat and hated Chasalgaon, and he had slumped in his canvas chair as he unfolded Sharpe's orders. He read them, grunted, then read them again. "Why the hell did they send you?" he finally asked. "No one else to send, sir." Crosby frowned at the order. "Why not an officer?" "No officers to spare, sir." "Bloody responsible job for a sergeant, wouldn't you say?" "Won't let you down, sir," Sharpe said woodenly, staring at the leprous yellow of the tent's canvas a few inches above the Major's head. "You'd bloody well better not let me down," Crosby said, pushing the orders into a pile of damp papers on his camp table. "And you look bloody young to be a sergeant." "I was born late, sir," Sharpe said. He was twenty-six, or thought he was, and most sergeants were much older. Crosby, suspecting he was being mocked, stared up at Sharpe, but there was nothing insolent on the Sergeant's face. A good-looking man, Crosby thought sourly. Probably had the bibbis of Seringapatam falling out of their saris, and Crosby, whose wife had died of the fever ten years before and who consoled himself with a two-rupee village whore every Thursday night, felt a pang of jealousy. "And how the devil do you expect to get the ammunition back to Seringapatam?" he demanded. "Hire ox carts, sir." Sharpe had long perfected the way to address unhelpful officers. He gave them precise answers, added nothing unnecessary and always sounded confident. "With what? Promises?" "Money, sir." Sharpe tapped his haversack where he had the bag of rupees. "Christ, they trust you with money?" Sharpe decided not to respond to that question, but just stared impassively at the canvas. Chasalgaon, he decided, was not a happy place. It was a small fort built on a bluff above a river that should have been overflowing its banks, but the monsoon had failed and the land was cruelly dry. The fort had no ditch, merely a wall made of cactus thorn with a dozen wooden fighting platforms spaced about its perimeter. Inside the wall was a beaten-earth parade ground where a stripped tree served as a flagpole, and the parade ground was surrounded by three mud-walled barracks thatched with palm, a cookhouse, tents for the officers and a stone-walled magazine to store the garrison's ammunition. The sepoys had their families with them, so the fort was overrun with women and children, but Sharpe had noted how sullen they were. Crosby, he thought, was one of those crabbed officers who were only happy when all about them were miserable. "I suppose you expect me to arrange the ox carts?" Crosby said indignantly. "I'll do it myself, sir." "Speak the language, do you?" Crosby sneered. "A sergeant, banker and interpreter, are you?" "Brought an interpreter with me, sir," Sharpe said. Which was overegging the pudding a bit, because Davi Lal was only thirteen, an urchin off the streets of Seringapatam. He was a smart, mischievous child whom Sharpe had found stealing from the armory cookhouse and, after giving the starving boy a clout around both ears to teach him respect for His Britannic Majesty's property, Sharpe had taken him to Lali's house and given him a proper meal, and Lali had talked to the boy and learned that his parents were dead, that he had no relatives he knew of, and that he lived by his wits. He was also covered in lice. "Get rid of him," she had advised Sharpe, but Sharpe had seen something of his own childhood in Davi Lal and so he had dragged him down to the River Cauvery and given him a decent scrubbing. After that Davi Lal had become Sharpe's errand boy. He learned to pipeclay belts, blackball boots and speak his own version of English which, because it came from the lower ranks, was liable to shock the gentler born. Sharpe's Triumph . Copyright © by Bernard Cornwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Sharpe's Triumph by Bernard Cornwell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.