Cover image for Sharpe's Trafalgar : Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Trafalgar, October 21, 1805
Sharpe's Trafalgar : Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Trafalgar, October 21, 1805
Cornwell, Bernard.
Personal Author:
First US edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, 2001.
Physical Description:
293 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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"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. Chronicling Sharpe's involvement in the famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Sharpe's Trafalgar finds the young ensign captive on a French warship and in gravest peril on the eve of the one of the most spectacular naval confrontations in history. 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

Can this popular historical novelist possibly keep up the high standards of entertainment he has demonstrated so far in his Richard Sharpe series of swashbuckling adventure tales set during the Napoleonic era? Does the latest installment, the seventeenth in the series, show any lessening of Cornwell's power to evoke times past and build characters who are both believable and larger than life? Not in the least. As the story here opens, Ensign Sharpe has been in India for five months and is now returning to England to join a new army unit. It is on Sharpe's long journey home, aboard ship, that the action of this skillfully executed, finely researched, and delightfully diverting yarn takes place. The convoy on its way to fair Albion's shores must deal with a French ship lurking in the Indian Ocean that has the habit of swooping down out of nowhere and seizing English ships for booty. Meanwhile, Sharpe has spotted potential trouble onboard his own ship: some passengers whom the ensign feels are not who they pretend to be. From those two sources of conflict comes the energy that drives this compelling narrative. The high-seas battle scenes are brilliantly written, and the love scenes (Sharpe has a shipboard romance, as if he were on a Caribbean cruise) tenderly so. The author's fans will eat this one up. --Brad Hooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nobody describes bloody battle scenes better than Cornwell, and even he outdoes himself with this riveting novel about the epic naval battle off Spain's Cape Trafalgar in 1805. This is the 17th volume in his popular Napoleonic War series about Richard Sharpe, a brutish yet admirable soldier in the British army. Here Cornwell jumps back chronologically in Sharpe's glorious career to 1805, when Sharpe is promoted from the ranks for saving Lord Arthur Wellesley's life in India. Loaded down with looted jewels, the bastard son of a London whore heads back to England to a posting with the famous 95th Rifle Regiment. His battlefield promotion to junior officer rank makes common soldiers wary, and gentlemen officers scornful, and Sharpe decidedly uncomfortable in a role he does not yet know how to play. But he certainly knows how to fight. As usual, there is not only plenty of action but romance and intrigue as well. Sailing aboard a large East India Company merchant ship, Sharpe encounters a wealthy married woman whose charms he cannot resist, a pompous English lord he cannot stand and a host of treacherous fellow passengers. Unusual circumstances, betrayal and some bad luck next find him aboard a British ship-of-the-line in pursuit of a French warship in the Atlantic. Beyond the murky horizon lies an unexpected rendezvous at Trafalgar, where Lord Nelson and the British fleet wait to meet the combined French and Spanish fleets. The naval battle occupies the last hundred pages and is stunning for its ferocity, detail, historical accuracy and suspense. Cornwell's fans will love Sharpe at sea in this latest installment in a first-rate series. (May) Forecast: Cornwell's books are major bestsellers in the U.K. Sharpe's Trafalgar hit the top of the charts and HarperCollins is pushing for similar success in the U.S. An eight-city author tour, national advertising and a 25-city national radio campaign will help, but word of mouth generated by satisfied readers should be even more effective. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Here's something special: the novel about the Battle of Trafalgar that C.S. Forester never wrote for his naval hero, Horatio Hornblower. However, instead of putting Hornblower in the history-changing battle, Forester acolyte Cornwell uses his own hero, soldier Richard Sharpe. It's 1805, and Sharpe now a commissioned officer is on his way home from India when some reasonably plausible events put him aboard a British ship of the line, which happens to reach the coast of Spain just as Admiral Nelson is preparing to attack France and Spain's combined fleets. The ensuing naval action is as fine as anything Forester ever wrote, and Hornblower himself would have been proud of Sharpe's conduct. It's all rollicking great fun, with generous dollops of real military history thrown in. William Gaminara's energetic reading helps to make this a can't-miss acquisition for general collections. R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Sharpe's Trafalgar Chapter One "A hundred and fifteen rupees," Ensign Richard Sharpe said, counting the money onto the table. Nana Rao hissed in disapproval, rattled some beads along the wire bars of his abacus and shook his head. "A hundred and thirty-eight rupees, sahib." "One hundred and bloody fifteen!" Sharpe insisted. "It were fourteen pounds, seven shillings and threepence ha'penny." Nana Rao examined his customer, gauging whether to continue the argument. He saw a young officer, a mere ensign of no importance, but this lowly Englishman had a very hard face, a scar on his right cheek and showed no apprehension of the two hulking bodyguards who protected Nana Rao and his warehouse. "A hundred and fifteen, as you say," the merchant conceded, scooping the coins into a large black cash box. He offered Sharpe an apologetic shrug. "I get older, sahib, and find I cannot count!" "You can count, all right," Sharpe said, "but you reckon I can't." "But you will be very happy with your purchases," Nana Rao said, for Sharpe had just become the possessor of a hanging bed, two blankets, a teak traveling chest, a lantern and a box of candles, a hogshead of arrack, a wooden bucket, a box of soap, another of tobacco, and a brass and elmwood filtering machine which he had been assured would render water from the filthiest barrels stored in the bottom-most part of a ship's hold into the sweetest and most palatable liquid. Nana Rao had demonstrated the filtering machine which he claimed had been brought out from London as part of the baggage of a director of the East India Company who had insisted on only the finest equipment. "You put the water here, see?" The merchant had poured a pint or so of turbid water into the brass upper chamber. "And then you allow the water to settle, Mister Sharpe. In five minutes it will be as clear as glass. You observe?" He lifted the upper container to show water dripping from the packed muslin layers of the filter. "I have myself cleaned the filter, Mister Sharpe, and I will warrant the item's efficiency. It would be a miserable pity to die of mud blockage in the bowel because you would not buy this thing." So Sharpe had bought it. He had refused to purchase a chair, bookcase, sofa or washstand, all pieces of furniture that had been used by passengers outward bound from London to Bombay, but he had paid for the filtering machine and all the other goods because otherwise his voyage home would be excruciatingly uncomfortable. Passengers on the great merchantmen of the East India Company were expected to supply their own furniture. "Unless you would be liking to sleep on the deck, sahib? Very hard! Very hard!" Nana Rao had laughed. He was a plump and seemingly friendly man with a large black mustache and a quick smile. His business was to purchase the furniture of incoming passengers which he then sold to those folk who were going home. "You will leave the goods here," he told Sharpe, "and on the day of your embarkation my cousin will deliver them to your ship. Which ship is that?" "The Calliope, " Sharpe said. "Ali! The Calliope! Captain Cromwell. Alas, the Calliope is anchored in the roads, so the goods will need to be carried out by boat, but my cousin charges very little for such a service, Mister Sharpe, very little, and when you are happily arrived in London you can sell the items for much profit!" Which might or, more probably, might not have been true, but was irrelevant because that same night, just two days before Sharpe was to embark, Nana Rao's godown was burned to the ground and all the goods: the beds, bookcases, lanterns, water filters, blankets, boxes, tables and chairs, the arrack, soap, tobacco, brandy and wine were supposedly consumed with the warehouse. In the morning there was nothing but ashes, smoke and a group of shrieking mourners who wailed that the kindly Nana Rao had died in the conflagration. Happily another godown, not three hundred yards from Nana Rao's ruined business, was well supplied with all the necessities for the voyage, and that second warehouse did a fine trade as disgruntled passengers replaced their vanished goods at prices that were almost double those that Nana Rao had charged. Richard Sharpe did not buy anything from the second warehouse. He had been in Bombay for five months, much of that time spent sweating and shivering in the castle hospital, but when the fever had passed, and while he was waiting for the annual convoy to arrive from Britain with the ship that would carry him home, he had explored the city, from the wealthy houses in the Malabar hills to the pestilential alleys by the waterfront. He had found companionship in the alleyways and it was one of those acquaintances who, in return for a golden guinea, gave Sharpe a scrap of information which the ensign reckoned was worth far more than a guinea. It was, indeed, worth a hundred and fifteen rupees which was why, at nightfall, Sharpe was in another alley on the eastern outskirts of the city. He wore his uniform, though over it he had donned a swathing cloak made of cheap sacking which was thickly impregnated with mud and filth. He limped and shuffled, his body bent over with a hand outstretched as though he were begging. He muttered to himself and twitched, and sometimes turned and snarled at some innocent soul for no apparent reason. He went utterly unnoticed. He found the house he wanted and squatted by its wall. A score of beggars, some horribly maimed, were gathered by the gate along with almost a hundred petitioners who waited for the house's owner, a wealthy merchant, to return from his place of business. The merchant came after nightfall, riding in a curtained palanquin that was carried by eight... Sharpe's Trafalgar . Copyright © by Bernard Cornwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Sharpe's Trafalgar 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.