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Sharpe's Rifles (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series #1)

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Sharpe's Rifles (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series #1) [Paperback]

Bernard Cornwell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1, 2001
Bernard Cornwell's action-packed series that captures the gritty texture of Napoleonic warfare--now beautifully repackaged

It's 1809, and Napoleon's army is sweeping across Spain. Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is newly in command of the demoralized, distrustful men of the 95th Rifles. He must lead them to safety--and the only way of escape is a treacherous trek through the enemy-infested mountains of Spain.

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Sharpe's Rifles (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series #1) + Sharpe's Eagle (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series #2) + Sharpe's Havoc: Richard Sharpe & the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809 (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series #7)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The eight previous books about Richard Sharpe, up-from-the-ranks infantry officer in H.M. Rifles, followed him from Talavera in 1809, battling Napoleon's armies across Iberia into France in early 1814. This "prequel" set in January 1809 has the new Lieutenant Sharpe trying to get his small English band away from the victorious French. Sharpe hopes to join the British outpost in Lisbon but is waylaid by a Spanish major of cavalry into helping him pull off a "miracle." The noble Major Vivar means to raise the flag of Spain's patron saint over Santiago de Compostela, now in French hands, as a sign that Spain will not be defeated. Readers of the earlier books will enjoy the usual smooth writing and vivid, occasionally quite gory, color. The battle scenes are thrillingly realistic and we always learn something: a macho , for example, is a mule whose vocal chords have been cut so that it can't bray and warn the enemy. The subplots revolve around Sharpe's making the recalcitrant Harper a sergeant, winning the respect of his troops and, alas, losing a fair young English girl.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Sharpe may come to personify the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars in the same way that Horatio Hornblower does the Royal Navy. Sharpe's exploits during the Peninsular Campaigns (1809-14) have been chronicled in eight prior novels; this "prequel" is the story of Sharpe's first command. He becomes the leader of a force of Rifles cut off behind lines during the disastrous English retreat from Spain and battles not only crack French dragoons but also the fierce winter weather and the hostility of his men. A Spanish major offers aid if Sharpe will help with his own desperate mission to guarantee a Spanish victory. A crackling adventure yarn, sure to delight Sharpe's many fans. Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (February 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140294295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140294293
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Peninsular Wars! August 2, 2001
Some nine books into his Napoleonic series, Cornwell pauses here to return to the beginning of Sharpe's association with the 95th Rifles. In 1809 French forces were sweeping the British out of the Spain in a full retreat to Portugal. Sharpe is a Lieutenant, and a lowly quartermaster at that, but through a series of mishaps and skirmishes, he finds himself in command of the tattered remnants of a Rifle Company cut off from the main British army. These men, led by the indominitable Irishman Harper, are demoralized, distrustful of Sharpe, and waver on mutinousness. We see his first clumsy attempts at leading men, as he tries to get them to safety. Their momentary alliance with a Spanish Major who is escorting a mysterious strongbox only leads to more trouble as the combined forces are dogged by a unit of French Cavalry intent on capturing the box. Of course, over time, the contents of the box are revealed and a thrilling city battle is fought. We also see Sharpe's first awkward falling in love, with the niece of some British missionaries (who provide some of the most comic moments in the entire series). It's a good prequel to Sharpe's adventures in the Peninsular Wars, and while it makes a logical place for newcomers to start the series, it might actually be more fun for those who have already gotten to know Sharpe and Harper.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Starting point for Sharpe's Campaigns May 24, 2000
Sharpe's Rifles is the place to start with Bernard Cornwell's gripping series of adventures which follow the career of Richard Sharpe, an officer in Wellington's army. Sharpe is unusual for an officer in Britain's army in the 19th Century - he was promoted from the ranks in a time when this was exceedingly rare. These novels follow Sharpe's career through the Peninsula war, culminating with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.
In Sharpe's Rifles we meet the new Lieutenant Richard Sharpe as he is struggling to earn the respect of his fellow officers and the men he commands. As we meet him he is serving as a quartermaster, as the popular prejudice was that officers promoted from the ranks took to drink and could not be trusted in a fighting command. We learn that he is in fact an experienced professional soldier and won his commission by an act of bravery on the battlefield, so he is seething with frustration and a sense of injustice at his lot. During a disastrous retreat from Napoleon's pursuing troops Sharpe finds himself in command of a company of survivors separated from the main army. During the journey in which he leads the men back to safety (with a detour to help the Spanish guerillas and capture a town) he learns how to command and earns the respect he craves. We also see the birth of the friendship between Sharpe and Sergeant Harper, which is central to the rest of the series.
Once I had started I found it impossible to put this book down, and then dashed out and bought the rest of the series. The story is gripping, the pace fast, and the characterisation excellent - Sharpe is no one-dimensional action man and his character continues to develop throughout the series. Cornwell is a very well-informed military historian and I learned a great deal about an era with which I was previously unfamiliar.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beginning that you will like. March 20, 2001
If you have read other Sharpe books, you will realize right away that the story goes back to the time before "Sharpe's Eagle". It serves to set the stage and introduce the characters that will populate the series thoughout the campaigns in Portugal and Spain. If you haven't read any other Sharpe stories and you like Historical Fiction that are enjoyable reads you are going to enjoy it.
Don't get me wrong, as a story it stands alone quite well. Readable and entertaining are the first thoughts that come to mind. The battles/fights seem to be historically accurate as well as well written (not always the case with storied written about this time period). The characters are understandable, without appearing to be twentieth-century men being transported to another era. As Sharpe grows as a commander, you both empathise with his problems and cheer his accomplishments.
The whole series is worth reading, and this a great prequel to the timeframe where most of the action takes place.... and there will be quite a lot of it!
PS... The books are better than the BBC series.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe's Adventure begins! August 9, 2000
'Sharpe's Rifles' is the first of Bernard Cornwell's orginal Richard Sharpe series and is a wonderful start. Here we meet for the first time the maverick British officer Richard Sharpe and his tough-as-nails companion Sergeant Harper. The story takes place during the British retreat from Spain in 1809. French victory seems certain. Lieutnant Sharpe is seperated from his unit and forced to command a rag tag company of riflemen, who have little love for thier new leader, though enemy territory back to the British lines. On top of these worries, Spanish partisans insist that the British escort them to a remote village where they believe victory over the French is possible. This is a novel that takes you back in time to the desperate days in the struggle against Napoleon. Even if historical novels aren't your thing the adventure alone is worth the read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Historical But Who Cares! February 13, 2000
I am a history teacher and I am very serious about historical details. The characters in this book may not be real, but that makes no difference. The book is well written, the characters are complex, and the story line is steeped with historical detail. Cornwall is a fantastic writer who seems to capture the feeling of the Napoleonic Wars as if he were there himself. This book introduces the reader to Richard Sharpe and Patrick Harper, two of the best written characters in modern fiction. The action starts almost immediately as Sharpe takes over the 95th Rifles. Your heart won't stop racing until the final page. Sharpe and Harper have grabbed my imagination as does the back drop of 19th century Spain. This is a must read for any student of the Napoleonic Wars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
He is a hard soldier, fought well, made the French run.
Published 5 hours ago by Helen G. Doye
5.0 out of 5 stars History, with a hero to root for
It has been 200 years since Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. I was looking for a way to get into the history prior to that, and was excited to read these books. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Dr. Donald J Lanahan, DMD
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good series!
Published 1 month ago by Brian Fogarty
5.0 out of 5 stars These Sharpe books are amazing. It's challenging to find novels that...
These Sharpe books are amazing. It's challenging to find novels that are well written and entertaining. This is brilliant on every level.
Published 1 month ago by Michael F Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rousing Good Tale!
Great historical fiction. Cornwell tells a great story. His characters feel real and he knows how to make a battle compelling. Read more
Published 1 month ago by G. Blassman
5.0 out of 5 stars As with all the Sharp novels... they ...
As with all the Sharp novels...they move fast with exciting conflicts and mostly historical factual battle engagements. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Virgil Howarth
5.0 out of 5 stars History comes alive
More than just the tale of battle, but a story which reflects transcendent emotions that know not the bounds of time. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Donald Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book
Details are presented in a concise manner
Published 2 months ago by Barry Blecher
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Robert E Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe faces up to his gremlins
Bernard Cornwell's long running series about Richard Sharpe, a foot-soldier in India and in the Napoleonic Wars is one of the best historical series around. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Suncoast
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More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London in 1944 - a 'warbaby' - whose father was a Canadian airman and mother in Britain's Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted by a family in Essex who belonged to a religious sect called the Peculiar People (and they were), but escaped to London University and, after a stint as a teacher, he joined BBC Television where he worked for the next 10 years. He began as a researcher on the Nationwide programme and ended as Head of Current Affairs Television for the BBC in Northern Ireland. It was while working in Belfast that he met Judy, a visiting American, and fell in love. Judy was unable to move to Britain for family reasons so Bernard went to the States where he was refused a Green Card. He decided to earn a living by writing, a job that did not need a permit from the US government - and for some years he had been wanting to write the adventures of a British soldier in the Napoleonic wars - and so the Sharpe series was born. Bernard and Judy married in 1980, are still married, still live in the States and he is still writing Sharpe.

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Sharpe's Rifles (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series #1)
This item: Sharpe's Rifles (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series #1)
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Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell


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