Friday, August 15, 2014
Forgotten Books: SHARPE'S WATERLOO by Bernard Cornwell (1990)
It's been a long, bloody, and bloody marvelous journey following Richard Sharpe from Sharpe's Tiger in 1799 India to this butt-kicking battle sixteen years later at Waterloo, and I enjoyed every second of it. (I'm now reading Sharpe's Devil, sort of a postscript to the series, which takes place five years after Waterloo, and when that's finished I'll probably read all 21 books--and three short stories--over again.)
Having heard the name Waterloo just about forever, I was amazed to discover just how little I really knew. I had no idea, for instance, that it was a tiny unknown village in the Netherlands--an area that would eventually become Belgium.
Like all of Cornwell's novels, this one lays out the battle so well I felt like I was right there, fighting alongside Sharpe and his longtime sidekick Patrick Harper. Cornwell himself described the book as having almost no plot, because all he had to do was tell the story of the battle, dropping Sharpe into the mix for flavor. It's true that Sharpe has less to do here than usual, and he is at the mercy of events rather than vice versa, but Cornwell's storytelling is so good, and the battle so fascinating that it doesn't matter.
I see that Cornwell has a new book out, titled simply Waterloo, presenting his own nonfiction study of the battle. I'm looking forward to that. It'll be interesting to see how it compliments and differs from this novel, written 25 years ago.
More Forgotten Books at pattinase (I think).