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Sharpe's Company: Siege of Badajoz, January to April 1812 [Paperback]

Bernard Cornwell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 1 1987

Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Badajoz, January to April 1812

The Complete Sharpe Collection with a new introduction by the author

It was a hard winter. For Richard Sharpe it was the worst he could remember. He had lost his command to a wealthy man – a man with money to buy the promotion Sharpe coveted. And from England came his oldest enemy – the ruthless, indestructible Hakeswill – utterly intent on ruining Sharpe.

But Sharpe is determined to change his luck. And the surest way is to lead the bloody attack on the impregnable fortress town of Badajoz, a road to almost certain death – or unimagined glory…


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Review

"Brilliant... Sharpe is a great creation" -- Daily Mirror

About the Author

Born in Essex in 1944 Bernard Cornwell was adopted at the age of six weeks by two members of a strict fundamentalist sect called the Peculiar People. He grew up in a household that forbade alcohol, cigarettes, dances, television, conventional medicine and toy guns. Not surprisingly, he developed a fascination for military adventure. As a teenager he devoured CS Forester’s Hornblower novels and tried to enlist three times. Poor eyesight put paid to his dream, instead he went to university to read theology. On graduating, he became a teacher, then joined BBC’s Nationwide, working his way up the ladder to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland, then editor of Thames News. In 1979, his life changed when he fell in love with an American.

"Judy couldn’t live here, so I gave up my job and moved to the US. I couldn’t get a green card, and for 18 months the only thing I could do was write novels." The result was his first book about 19th century hero, Richard Sharpe, Sharpe’s Eagle.

Today he has 20 Sharpe adventures behind him, plus a series about the American Civil War, the Starbuck novels; an enormously successful trilogy about King Arthur, The Warlord Chronicles; the Hundred Years War set Grail Quest series; and his current series about King Alfred.

Bernard Cornwell owns houses in Cape Cod and Florida and two boats. Every year he takes two months off from his writing and spends most of his time on his 24 foot Cornish crabber, Royalist.


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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Siege + Hakeswill = Another Solid Entry June 28 2001
By A. Ross
Format:Paperback
This 1813-set entry in the Napoleonic War series finds Sharpe once again battling two of his most formidable foes: bureaucracy and the thoroughly evil Sgt. Hakeswill, the man responsible for his flogging in India a decade previously. The first of these battles is a foregone conclusion, as the Horse Guards finally reject Sharpe's battlefield commission to Captain, and he is reassigned away from his company as a Lieutenant. The depression this brings about is further exacerbated by the installation of Sgt. Hakeswill in Sharpe's old company. Early on, Sharpe has a chance to kill his legendarily unkillable enemy, but chooses not to and lets him go, saying that he prefers to do so in the sight of 1,000 men, so that everyone knows the deed is done. It's one of the unlikelier plot justifications of the series, made all the more annoying by the long-term implications of that decision. The story continues with Sharpe trying to figure out how to regain a Captaincy, while dealing with the schemes of Hakeswill. This is all set against the backdrop of the siege at the fortress of Badajoz. Cornwell excels at imparting the technical and murderous side of siege warfare at the time, while remaining entertaining. His descriptions of trench-digging, shelling, and futile charges against overwhelming firepower all eerily foreshadow the horrors of France and Belgium 100 years later. For Sharpe, the storming of the fortress is a test of his courage and pride, a point which Cornwell hammers home almost to the point of parody. To top it all off, Sharpe's lover, the guerilla leader Terressa, is holed up in Badajoz, and Sharpe must race to get to her before raping and looting soldiers do. The post-siege descriptions of wholesale rape are based on historical fact, and are not for the faint of heart (or young), so be warned. Another strong entry in the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best Feb. 27 2003
By ...
Format:Paperback
Overall, an excellent novel. I've read many of Sharpe's adventures, and have enjoyed them all. This particular story deals with the siege of Badajoz. It has everything we've come to expect from a Richard Sharpe novel: action, mind-boggling battle scenes, and the occasional romance. My only complaint sounds kinda dumb, even to myself-- the villian, Obadiah Hakeswill. Every so often an author comes up with a villian that he can't bring himself to kill. Even, as in this case, when it goes against all common sense. The character, Sharpe, simply would not allow an enemy to escape as many times as Hakeswill does. I know this is nit-picking, but having some experience in the military, I can safely say that an infantryman does NOT leave an enemy behind him. Not alive, anyway. Okay, enough whining from me. Again, this is an excellent read. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction, action, or military history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forever tormented Sharpe! Dec 19 2003
By Corpsie
Format:Paperback
I actually started reading the Sharpe series starting from the India campaign (Cornwell's prequal to the regular Sharpe story) and ol' Obadiah was prevalent throughout. So I have to admit I was a little put off by, what I perceived to be, slight story changes from the prequals that I had read first.
Despite the changes (yes, I know Cornwell wrote the Peninsular War series first!), this was an extremely enjoyable book and I found myself actually yelling at the pages for Sharpe to succeed. I knew he would, but Cornwell has an excellent way of telling a story that pulls the reader into the novel and the next thing you know you're at the end.
My thanks to emilyh for putting together an outstanding chronological history of the Sharpe books. Otherwise I would have been completely lost and not have enjoyed this series as much as I have!
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Sharpe! Sharpe! Sharpe!

I encourage you to read these books in order of the chronology of the events, rather than the order in which they are written. If you've been doing that, you've probably wondered whatever happened to Sergeant Obadiah ("I can't be killed") Hakeswill who we last read about in India. In Sharpe's Company, this spawn of the underworld returns to cause lots of mischief.

Viscount Wellington is still leading the allied forces in the Peninsula, having secured Portugal. In Sharpe's Company, two fortresses bar the way into Napoleon's Spain, Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. Naturally, Sharpe plays a key role in both battles. In this book, you get two sieges for the price of one.

The love story is much stronger here than usual in the series as the female partisan leader from Sharpe's Gold, Teresa, makes an important return appearance. In the process, Sharpe learns he has become a father . . . and his daughter is being cared for in Badajoz.

Sharpe's career also takes a turn for the worse. The temporary captaincy comes to an end, and he's reduced in rank to lieutenant reporting to a new captain who isn't as decisive as he might be. Hakeswill is soon undermining everyone to put himself to an advantage, and Sharpe's morale plummets while his hatred of Hakeswill grows.

Sharpe also comes to resent that he cannot become a permanent captain and toys with the idea of leading a Forlorn Hope into the breach to gain such a promotion.

The story's ending may turn your stomach more than a little as Mr. Cornwell treats us to a pretty graphic description of the sack of Badajoz by the British and Portuguese. It may be more historical realism than you really want to know about.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  59 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced Action/Adventure Aug. 23 2001
By "p_trabaris" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What are some of the reasons why you read books?
* Do you like adventure? * Do you like romance? * Do you like action? * Do you like history?
If you answered yes to the above then you will enjoy Sharpe's Company. I started reading these books and I find myself having a hard time putting them down.
Sharpe's Company by Bernard Cornwell is an exciting rip-roaring adventure addition to the Sharpe series. You can see Bernard Cornwell's extensive research come to life page after page. The setting is 1812 and the British forces are re-grouping in Spain to repulse the dreaded French juggernaut led by Napoleon. Sharpe's challenge is to defeat the French forces at Badajoz, retain his rank and marry the girl of his desires. All of Sharpe's soldiers are in attendance and ready for battle.
Sharpe lost his rank due to a clerical error in England and is now a mere lieutenant. He answers to a commanding officer that has never led a battle command. The captain who replaced him is a well meaning light-weight who lets his sergeant give the orders.
Additionally, the evil Sergeant Hakeswell is back in Sharpe's life again and up to his old tricks. I don't think I can imagine of a better villain than Hakeswell. He is ugly, twisted and thoroughly evil. There are no redeeming values to his character. He wants to kill Sharpe and ruin his career. Even Sharpe's friends are in danger from this psychopath.
Where Cornwell shines is the description of the battle. He paints a picture of the siege at Badajoz so realistic that you visualize the battle and all of its horrors. His details are fascinating. For example, the advantages and disadvantages of a rifle and a musket, the uses of cannon to reduce castle walls to rubble and the siege warfare techniques of 1800s.
I wholeheartedly endorse this book.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Siege + Hakeswill = Another Solid Entry June 28 2001
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This 1813-set entry in the Napoleonic War series finds Sharpe once again battling two of his most formidable foes: bureaucracy and the thoroughly evil Sgt. Hakeswill, the man responsible for his flogging in India a decade previously. The first of these battles is a foregone conclusion, as the Horse Guards finally reject Sharpe's battlefield commission to Captain, and he is reassigned away from his company as a Lieutenant. The depression this brings about is further exacerbated by the installation of Sgt. Hakeswill in Sharpe's old company. Early on, Sharpe has a chance to kill his legendarily unkillable enemy, but chooses not to and lets him go, saying that he prefers to do so in the sight of 1,000 men, so that everyone knows the deed is done. It's one of the unlikelier plot justifications of the series, made all the more annoying by the long-term implications of that decision. The story continues with Sharpe trying to figure out how to regain a Captaincy, while dealing with the schemes of Hakeswill. This is all set against the backdrop of the siege at the fortress of Badajoz. Cornwell excels at imparting the technical and murderous side of siege warfare at the time, while remaining entertaining. His descriptions of trench-digging, shelling, and futile charges against overwhelming firepower all eerily foreshadow the horrors of France and Belgium 100 years later. For Sharpe, the storming of the fortress is a test of his courage and pride, a point which Cornwell hammers home almost to the point of parody. To top it all off, Sharpe's lover, the guerilla leader Terressa, is holed up in Badajoz, and Sharpe must race to get to her before raping and looting soldiers do. The post-siege descriptions of wholesale rape are based on historical fact, and are not for the faint of heart (or young), so be warned. Another strong entry in the series.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not the best Feb. 27 2003
By ... - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Overall, an excellent novel. I've read many of Sharpe's adventures, and have enjoyed them all. This particular story deals with the siege of Badajoz. It has everything we've come to expect from a Richard Sharpe novel: action, mind-boggling battle scenes, and the occasional romance. My only complaint sounds kinda dumb, even to myself-- the villian, Obadiah Hakeswill. Every so often an author comes up with a villian that he can't bring himself to kill. Even, as in this case, when it goes against all common sense. The character, Sharpe, simply would not allow an enemy to escape as many times as Hakeswill does. I know this is nit-picking, but having some experience in the military, I can safely say that an infantryman does NOT leave an enemy behind him. Not alive, anyway. Okay, enough whining from me. Again, this is an excellent read. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction, action, or military history.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Fine Dec 15 2008
By kristin724 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Since I've already reviewed the television adaptation on Sharpe's Company, I'll only briefly give my praise for the Bernard Cornwell novel.

The film adaptation keeps true to the written word, but the battle scenes on the page are much more detailed and complex. Cornwell finds historical niches for Richard Sharpe to appear, and the siege of Badajoz is lengthy, rough, deadly, and dirty. Several failed siege attempts are also in the book-unlike the film-raising the stakes for Sharpe-who of course has to deal with army politics, enemies within, and the rescue of his wife and daughter.

Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill makes just as much trouble for the written Sharpe as he does onscreen. It's morbidly delightful to read the twisted thoughts of this madman, and Pete Postlehwaite does a fine job of bringing the character to the screen. Of course, on film characters are dropped or combined and dismissed, but in the Sharpe's Company novel, all the supporting officers and soldiers are given plenty of time to develop themselves and their relationship to Sharpe. Hard core friendships and army loyalty between Harper and Sharpe are almost more of a delight to read than see.

Historical fans will love any Sharpe novel. I'm not really reading them in order, more as I find them, but it's easy to jump into the series-especially for Hornblower fans. As realistic as C.S. Forester's books are on naval warfare, Sharpe is their equal on the battlefield. The British-ness may take a few folks some getting used to, but Sharpe's Company is well worth the journey.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the Sharpe books are good... but this one March 6 2001
By Allan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
is great.
I own all the Sharpe novels, and this is one of the best. Sharpe's exploits on the Iberian Peninsula rank alongside those of Horatio Hornblower at sea - except that Bernard Cornwell's writing style is probably more accessible for the modern reader.
The Sharpe stories follow the exploits of a poor officer in the British army as it battles Napoleon's Marshals in Portugal and Spain. Badajoz was a pivotal battle in the campaign, and the seige was a masterpiece of engineering, and a triumph of courage and spirit.
Naturally, Sharpe is in the thick of things, battling not only the French, but his enemies in red jackets: the malicious Hakeswill being chief amongst them.
But Sharpe, and his ever-trustworthy partner, the huge Irishman Harper, fight through one of the grimmest descriptions of a battle you're ever likely to read.
A great episode in the lives of Richard Sharpe, Patrick Harper - and the man who relies so much on them: Arthur Wellesly, the Duke of Wellington.
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