In order of publication, this is the 5th book in the Richard Sharpe series , but the 11th in a "timeline". As such , the author Bernard Cornwell has smoothed out his writing style to give Sharpe a lot more depth of character and a three dimensional aspect lacking in some of the earlier adventures.
In addition to Richard Sharpe ,Major Hogan , Wellington , and Patrick Harper , there are many interesting new characters introduced--La Marquesa (Helena) , Lord Jack Spears , "El Mirador" , and of course a vile villian , Colonel Laroux. All of these characters are artfully blended to achieve an exciting military adventure in which our hero Sharpe is gravely wounded ,and is rescued by his friend Patrick Harper. After being nursed back to health , Sharpe seeks his vengance against the man who wounded him.
The plot of this story involves a possible comprimise of the intelligence network of Major Michael Hogan and the possible exposure of his top agent , the mysterious El Mirador. Colonel Laroux , sent by Napoleon Bonaparte himself to destroy El Mirador , proves to be a ruthless enemy devoid of any honor. To reveal any more than this would indeed compromise the book's enjoyment for the reader , so I'll stop right here.
This volume seems to have it all--excitement,intrigue,romance,and of course the inevitable battle action! Of the 11 volumes I have read in timeline order , this one is right at the top of "my list" along with "Sharpe's Tiger" and "Sharpe's Triumph" for sheer entertainment value and excitement! Five stars and highly recommended.