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Sharpe's Rifles: Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809 [Paperback]

Bernard Cornwell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 1995 Sharpe
A story of a battle against impossible odds and victory snatched from defeat is the smashing prequel to the action-packed Richard Sharpe adventure series.

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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 the Hardcover edition.

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 the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another great one Aug. 8 2002
Format:Paperback
Cornwell does what he does best in delivering another suspenseful, action-packed Sharpe book. Like all the others, I had a hard time putting this one down once I had jumped into it. It's rare that it takes me longer then 4 or 5 days to get through a Sharpe book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pure awesomeness May 11 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great stepping stone in the path of Sharpe. I read the books first and saw the tv series after and then reread the book, and loved them even more. You wont find a better fight/battle scenes, Cornwell is a master of describing combat and making it feel real. He also creates villians and vendettas that get your blood up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The penisular wars begin. Sept. 1 2003
Format:Paperback
Sharpe's Rifles is the book in which Sharpe gets his first command. It's the bringing together of two characters that will see the peninsular wars to an end. Sharpe meets Harper for the first time in this book, and it not what I expected. It is however a great tale of how the two soldiers came together.
This book puts Sharpe in Spain, during the British retreat towards Corunna. This is a dark point for the British in the peninsular wars when French victory seems not so far off. Sharpe, while second in command of a detachment of riflemen cut off from the main British force, is soon to face the most challenging point of his career. Sharpe has to learn quickly when his commander gets killed and leaves him in charge. He needs to earn the respect of his men and lead them to victory. It's a great story and a great look at how Sharpe came to be so admired by his men. This book starts of many of the features that make the Sharpe series so great, it's a must read for all Sharpe fans.
4 Stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Cheers for Richard Sharpe July 20 2001
Format:Paperback
Sharpe's Rifles by Bernard Cornwell is an exciting roller-coaster ride of battles and army life as seen through the eyes of Richard Sharpe, a newly made lieutenant in the English infantry. During the early 1800s most officers in the English infantry were of noble birth, however Lt. Sharpe, a former enlisted man comes from the ranks. He receives little respect from the men in his command and even less from his peers. The setting is in Spain during the French-Napoleonic invasions. The English (and Lt. Sharpe) are supporting the freedom fighters of Spain.
His army has been defeated and the French are pushing the English towards the coast of Spain and into Portugal. Through a series of mishaps he finds himself under the loose command of a Spanish Major who is intent upon flying a holy banner from a major city deep within the French area of control. Sharpe must win the respect of his men, fight an invincible French Colonel, and vie for the attentions of a beautiful English missionary.
I admit that I was a fan of the PBS series before I read the books. However, when you start this book you will have a hard time putting it down. Cornwell writes in plain English and his dialog is great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe's Rifles Jan. 5 2010
Format:Hardcover
Thanks for this excellent buy. The books in the Sharpe's series by Bernard Cormwell are now "semi-rare" and I was able to find this one on your web listing at a very reasonable price. Of course,it was used, not "hot off the presses," but that just improves its value as it is a First Edition. Many thanks.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Many people compare the Hornblower books to the Sharpe novels and vice versa. The two series have little in common other than covering similar time periods in British history, one from the naval and the other from the military perspective. As his name suggests, Sharpe is quick-witted and as adaptable as a Swiss army knife. Hornblower is more cerebral and comfortable in his officer's role. Sharpe is initially a fish out of water when leading his men, and he knows it.

If you are like me, you've been reading these books in the order of the events they portray (rather than the order of publication). From that perspective, Sharpe's Rifles is the sixth in chronological order of events.

Since Sharpe was raised to be an ensign by saving the life of Sir Arthur Wellesley as the Battle of Assaye, he's been struggling. The Scottish regiments in India didn't want him because he is English. Posted to the 95th Rifles in England, the officers don't want him because he's not a gentleman born and the men don't respect him for the same reason. But he's seen as valuable in a quartermaster role where he can keep an eye on the tricks that soldiers use to fiddle the stores. Sharpe is a good quartermaster, but he wants to fight instead.

In Sharpe's Rifles, Sharpe comes unexpectedly to command a small group of the 95th Rifles during a disastrous retreat from the victorious French. He decides to take his men to Lisbon to find transport, but the men plan to head north instead. Immediately, Sharpe's authority is challenged and he fights back the only way he knows how . . . with his fists. Into that perilous moment steps a Spanish grandee, Major Blas Vivar, who persuades Sharpe to join forces with his cavalry troops who are carrying a mysterious chest to Santiago de Compostela.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Start to the Sharpe Series Dec 28 2003
Format:Paperback
This was my first foray into the Napoleonic historical fiction genre (including the Hornblower series as well as the Aubrey/Maturin books) and since I am more of a landlubber I went with the Sharpe series. The writing style can be light and fluffy at times but there is enough period detail to keep the historian in you engaged. The action is quite bloody and there is a certain gritty realism to much of the story. I could have done without the whole chick element that Louisa brings but it does serve to offer some insight into Sharpe's character by the end of the story. A quick read, and hard to put down. I'm looking forward to Sharpe's Eagle.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Sharpe's Rifles
The product is not bad, but the fact that it is an ex-library copy was not part of the description.
Published 15 months ago by Larry Hobson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Action
Reading Napoleonic books can become a bit dull without some imagery to add to the mixture. This and the other books (along with the good if low-budget TV series) really bring... Read more
Published on April 28 2003 by D. A Butler
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
One of the best novels in the Sharpe series. Unlike later novels, in which Richard Sharpe seems infallible and invincinble,
Sharpe's Rifles portrays the hero as insecure and... Read more
Published on April 5 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, Bernard is the man!
Another fine book. Writer's like Cornwell, of which there are few, never cease to amaze. Prolific yet always profound. Dramatic yet believable. Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars great start to an addictive series
This is an excellent action book. Sharpe is a strong character, and the historical context of the story is very interesting. Cornwell's battle scenes are very well done. Read more
Published on April 28 2002 by Kiwibelge
5.0 out of 5 stars sharpe's rifles
Firstly this is an exellent book like all of the others in the sharpe series.It is hard to believe ,at the start ,that the Chosen men will one day respect and like... Read more
Published on April 11 2002 by "adamconlin81"
5.0 out of 5 stars AIM!.........FIRE!.....FIX BAYONETS!
After reading a number of C.S Forester's Hornblower series, I realized the appreciation I have for historical fiction that contains a main character's development throughout that... Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2002 by Matthew Ozvat
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