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Sharpes Prey [Paperback]

Cornwell Bernard
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 5 2001
It is 1807 and Sharpe, back from India and Trafalgar, has joined the newly formed Greenjackets – but his career is in ruins, and his future in the army apparently hopeless.

He is rescued from disgrace by General Sir David Baird, an old comrade from India, who needs a ‘disposable’ man for a mission in Copenhagen. An army is travelling to the Danish capital to enforce British policy, but unless Sharpe can complete the mission against enemies as subtle and clever as any he has ever faced, that army will meet disaster.

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Sharpes Prey + Sharpe's Rifles + Sharpe's Trafalgar
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From Amazon

All of the Sharpe novels, not just the new one, Sharpe's Prey, feature genuinely complex plotting in which the reader is kept engaged not just by a central conflict but by a whole host of subplots handled as adeptly as his main narrative. How does Bernard Cornwell maintain such a high standard in his tales of historical derring-do and danger? The genre is a touch overcrowded these days, but Cornwell is unquestionably in the upper echelons, with a consistency that must give most of his rivals pause. It isn't just the formula that makes these books work so well (high-powered, vividly described action, conflicted protagonists risking both their lives and careers, impressive historical detail), it is another factor that has distinguished the author's books since his early work.

The year is 1807; Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is planning to leave the army. Against his better judgment, he is persuaded to accompany the Hon John Lavisser to Copenhagen in what is essentially an act of political skulduggery: they are to deliver a bribe and (hopefully) avert a war. But with the French ensuring that Europe remains at boiling point, Sharpe finds himself protecting his charge against French agents and struggling to ensure that the Danish battle fleet is not used to replace every French ship destroyed at Trafalgar. Sharpe is a character we know well and like, and his customary characteristics (tenacity, bloody-mindedness) are well to the fore here, but, as always, the other characters are equally strikingly drawn: Lavisser is a splendidly complex figure, as are several of Sharpe's nemeses. But it's that wonderfully adroit orchestration of action and plot that keeps the pulse racing, with the bombardment of Copenhagen and the massive bloodshed resulting in a truly impressive set piece:

Sharpe, from his vantage point on the dune, could see the smoke wreathing the wall. The city's copper spires and red roofs showed above the churning cloud. A dozen houses were burning there, fired by the Danish shells that hissed across the canal. Three windmills had their sales tethered against the blustering wind that blew the smoke westwards and fretted the moored fleet to the north of Copenhagen.

--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The traditional military adventure yarn remains alive and well in the capable hands of Cornwell, as his up-from-the-ranks hero, Richard Sharpe, though stuck in the lowly role of regimental quartermaster, finds himself in the thick of the 1807 British campaign to destroy the Danish navy anchored in Copenhagen before the French can seize the ships and pose another invasion threat. As ever, the story starts fast, here with the murder of an English army officer in London by Captain John Lavisser a traitor working for the French and as vile a villain as any Sharpe has faced and scarcely lets up until Sharpe's final confrontation with Lavisser during the British bombardment of Copenhagen. Along with the swashbuckling action, Sharpe finds romance with the widowed daughter of Britain's top Danish agent, Astrid Skovgaard, who helps him get over the loss of Grace, the aristocratic young woman he met in his last outing, Sharpe's Trafalgar, but who died in childbirth. Much of the suspense hinges on whether Sharpe will quit the army and remain in Denmark, or persuade Astrid to return with him to England. Unlike Patrick O'Brian, Cornwell doesn't dwell on the details of early 19th-century life, writing in plain prose that neither evokes nor obviously violates period. This is the 18th installment in the Sharpe series (which now covers the years from 1799 to 1821, with a few small gaps). It's anyone's guess how many more are still to come, but Cornwell fans will welcome each and every one.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Captain Henry Willsen of His Majesty's Dirty Half Hundred, more formally the 50th Regiment of West Kent, parried his opponent's saber. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Cornwell's best April 13 2006
I’ve read all of the Sharpe series at least three or four times and I’m always amazed at Cornwell’s ability to bring actual history to life. The first read is always to capture the characters and the story, the second and third to pick up the nuances in the character interplay and the historical narrative in the background. Every layer is just as fascinating. This book is no exception and involves characters from real life, notably Wellington in his role as a military commander against the Danes in Copenhagen, and the British campaign to capture the Danish fleet before Napoleon does. The book also introduces some notable characters that play key roles in later Sharpe novels.
The story starts with Lieutenant Richard Sharpe, newly trained from the Rifles, and in misery due to the death of his lover and first child, his penniless state and his unappreciated state of affairs with the battalion’s senior officers. On the run again from the law, he is offered a job by the Foreign Office to protect an emissary sent to bribe the Danish King. Sharpe soon finds himself embroiled in mystery, treachery and mayhem behind enemy lines.
One of Bernard Cornwell’s best Sharpe novels.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A history lesson made fun Aug. 20 2003
This was my introduction to the Sharpe series. Before buying the books I was big fan of the Sharpe movies on TV, I used to love watching them and am glad to say upon finding the series of books my opinion of Sharpe has raised many times over.
This book is set the peninsular wars. Sharpe has not yet met Harper (there is a small section about harpers experiences though) and he is not enjoying his life as a commissioned officer in his majesty's army. This book gives Sharpe just the kind of adventure he needs to get his morale up for the books that follow.
This book isn't my favourite of the whole Sharpe series but it is the most sentimental to me, Bernard Cornwell is a great author/historian. You don't just get a great story but you get an in-depth history lesson also. Though Sharpe is a fictional character the scenarios in which he is placed are not, so you get a feel for what soldiers and people alike lived through and experienced.
Of all the Sharpe books this is up there with the best, I give this book a well deserved 4 stars (it'd be five but they are reserved for Sharpe's Tiger).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rediscover unpublicised history. Oct. 4 2002
Exactly what we have come to expect from Mr.Cornwell - intriguing plot, bloodthirsty action, skulduggery, espionage and (of course) the usual healthy dose of lust, both carnal and pecuniary.
Although, in this little-publicised episode in British history, Sharpe seems strangely inept and less logical than normal, doubtless due to his recent bereavement and near-bankruptcy. At times we see the hard man reduced to tears at some small reminder ... this unmanning shows in the guileless way he goes about his task of ensuring that a chest of gold gets to the right place with the desired effect. Instead, he lets himself be duped - and almost killed - several times before gathering his wits; which he does in grand style, saving the day, finishing the job and settling a few scores - looks like it all turns out fine in the end, doesn't it? Read it and find out...
The writing, and the action, flows so well that the book is finished before one realises - leaving one gasping for more.
Once again the tale is based on historical facts, brilliantly dramatised; and summarised in an illuminating appendix - Mr.Cornwell's place at the top of the military history writers' roll of honour is assured. *****
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe in Denmark, 1807 July 31 2002
This is book is not as bad as some reviewers seem to indicate. I find it easilier to view Sharpe as a means to an end. The Sharpe character serves as a vehicle in which Mr. Cornwell can present a fascinating portrayal of the Napoleanic period in which the British army fought. To view him in any other context is absurd, because Sharpe is superhuman. No other living mortal could have seen and done the many things which Cornwell has put him through. If looked at in this way, the Sharpe series can really be a fun, entertaining and informative read. Sharpe represents the Tommy Atkins of Wellington's army which humbled the great Corsican over years of warfare.
Cornwell has been back-tracking his saga ever since getting Sharpe through the Peninsular and Waterloo campaigns. The many references to his past in India and England that were mentioned in these novels have been brought to the fore in the latest series. We get to see how Sharpe got himself into the 95th Rifles and with Wellington's army in Spain. One has to credit Cornwell for doing a brilliant job here of incorporating all this information and plot together. He has constructed each novel to stand on its own, as well as be part of the on-going Sharpe series. What makes these novels great is their period detail and close attention to history. The reader not only gets first-class action, romance and adventure, but great historical detail as well. It's a winning combination for sure, even if Sharpe does come across as a robotic killing machine at times. Cornwell's penchant for graphic descriptions of fighting and killing also carry much shock value and keep the reader standing on edge.
In this story our hero actually expresses a little feeling and emotion for a change.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I love this series. Can't wait for my kids to be old enough for the series
Published 1 month ago by Amie
4.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Despicable Villain Gives a Desperate Sharpe the Fits
The ground has shifted out from under Richard Sharpe's feet in the events that have occurred between Sharpe's Trafalgar and Sharpe's Prey. Read more
Published on Dec 26 2008 by Donald Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars "All the perfect ingredients for an action-packed novel
"All the perfect ingredients for an action-packed and page turning read" as THE TIMES said. Read more
Published on March 14 2004 by a tan
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the weaker Sharpe novels
Not as much fun as most of the Sharpe series. Sharpe spends much of the book in an utter funk, and hanging darkly over the whole story is that Britain's handling of the Copenhagen... Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars This Series Used to Be So Much Better
Not that this isn't good -- a Richard Sharpe story combines, adventure, history, and social commentary in a most enjoyable way. Read more
Published on Dec 24 2003 by David K. Taggart
5.0 out of 5 stars another great romp
Stupendous as always, with plenty of depth to Sharpe as we see him again after his great love affair has come to a tragic end. Read more
Published on June 19 2003 by J. Mullally
1.0 out of 5 stars If you admire cowards then this is a great book for you.
I find it very sad that one of the most disgraceful events i english history is being presented as something heroic. Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2003 by Erik Jensen
5.0 out of 5 stars The series just keeps getting better!
Having read every book in the series, I have to say that they ae consistently excellent. This more rough and ready Sharpe is consistent with a young man at war; he may o always be... Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars The series just keeps getting better!
Having read every book in the series, I have to say that they ae consistently excellent. This more rough and ready Sharpe is consistent with a young man at war; he may o always be... Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2002
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