Monday, September 19, 2011

47. Waterloo, A Captain Richard Sharpe Adventure

By:  Bernard Cornwell
Rated:  5 Stars

I have loved this series for a long time and it's a little sad that this is the last book.  But as Douglas McArthur said "old soldiers never die they just fade away" Richard Sharpe certainly deserves to sheath his sword and fade away into comfortable retirement.   If I have missed any of the books in this series it was by sheer accident.  If I was really, really rich I would collect them all in audio format to listen to when I am in a nursing home and beyond reading. :)

But Cornwell certainly ended the series with a great big bloody bang with this book.  His battlefield descriptions were about as graphic as I have ever read.  And his description of William of Orange's character made me go running to Wickipedia to see if this was the same William of Orange that was the scourge of Ireland and despised by Clan McDonald.  He wasn't.  That King William reigned in England with his wife Mary from 1689 to 1694.  The William of Orange that Cornwell is writing about in this book was born in 1792 and was subsequently King of the Netherlands.  He may or may not have been the jerk Cornwell protrays him as but after the hatchet job he did on Alfred the Great in his Saxon series I don't entirely trust him.  What I do trust is his accuracy as far as events are concerned and anyway this is fiction so Cornwell can write whatever he pleases.  But I can grumble about it. :)

Publisher's Summary

With the emperor Napoleon at its head, an enormous French army is marching toward Brussels. The British and their allies are also converging on Brussels - in preparation for a grand society ball. And it is up to Richard Sharpe to convince the Prince of Orange, the inexperienced commander of Wellington's Dutch troops, to act before it is too late. But Sharpe's warning cannot stop the tide of battle, and the British suffer heavy losses on the road to Waterloo. Wellington has few reserves of men and ammunition, the Prussian army has not arrived, and the French advance wields tremendous firepower and determination. Victory seems impossible.
In this, the culmination of Richard Sharpe's long and arduous career, Bernard Cornwell brings to life all the horror and all the exhilaration of one of the greatest military triumphs of all time.

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