Sharpe's Rifles (Sharpe, #6)
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Sharpe's Rifles (Sharpe #6)

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  7,636 ratings  ·  212 reviews
It's 1809, and Napoleon's army is sweeping across Spain. Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is newly in command of the demoralized, distrustful men of the 95th Rifles. He must lead them to safety-and the only way of escape is a treacherous trek through the enemy-infested mountains of Spain.
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Published January 1st 2001 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1988)
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Jim
More of a 2.5, but definitely my least favorite of the series so far. I didn't care for the reader, Fredrick Davidson, which didn't help. While he was tolerable, his Spanish voices were very low, gravelly, & almost unintelligible at times, while all his Irish voices were very high & lilting. Since one of the Irishmen was a really big, tough sergeant, the high voice didn't fit my image of a red haired Lee Marvin well.

Sharpe wasn't shown in a very good light for most of the book & the...more
Brad
I am reading the Sharpe books in chronological order and have just reached Sharpe's Rifles, the first meeting of Lt. Richard Sharpe and his best friend, Sgt. Harper, and I have to admit that the moment doesn't mean all that much to me.

It's crafted to be one of those great moments in fiction, and I suppose it could have been if I had approached Sharpe's Rifles from a different direction. Had I been reading the books in order of publication or even seen the occasional installment of the BBC's Shar...more
Nate
Sharpe's Rifles starts in 1809 with the Peninsular War in Spain already raging. For those who aren't familiar, the Peninsular War was one of the big conflicts of the Napoleonic Wars, with basically Britain, Spain, and Portugal duking it out with the French on the Iberian Peninsula. When we join our hero, the Spanish armies are destroyed and the British are already outnumbered and on the retreat from the French hordes. Due to some typical snobbish officer dumbassery, Sharpe and a small group of R...more
Deanne
More swashbuckling derring do from Lieutenant Richard Sharpe, do like a man in uniform though Sharpe's sounds like it should be thrown in the rag bag.
The action has moved to Spain and the peninsular war, read books which mention the Napoleonic wars but this is a chance to get to grips with who fought where and when. Already got the next in the series on the shelf to read.
Kate Sherrod
"He might not be a born officer, but by God he was a born soldier. He was the son of a whore, bereft of God, but a God-damned soldier."

I've decided that the best way to approach the Sharpe series -- in which the publication order differs so radically from the publication order as to seem all but an exercise in randomization -- the way one does when reading stories about Conan the Cimmerian. There might be some narrative carry-over from novel to novel, but it's best to just regard them as discret...more
Linda Banche
Set during the Napoleonic Wars, Sharpe's Rifles is the story of soldier Richard Sharpe. War stories, full as they are of blood and guts, are not exactly my cup of tea. But Sharpe's Rifles is also a rousing adventure story, with plot twists that take you straight to the end, loads of descriptions, and even a bit of romance. Highly researched, the book is chock-full of historical detail, which I love, since it puts you right into the period.

But the best part is the self-doubting Sharpe, soldier ex...more
Katy
I watched the mini series first, and the book is way more intense and I wasn't even sure I liked Sharpe at all 1/2 way through the book. But that's character development for you. The author is a serious history buff and it's clear he knows what he's talking about. Some of it you kind of gloss over (which battalion was flanking which... come on!) but mostly he manages to sneak in interesting little facts like the English didn't smoke cigarettes, they only had little clay pipes. There's plenty of...more
William
I have really enjoyed this fantastic series by Bernard Cornwell, but this novel is, if not the most intricately plotted, saturated with battle after battle between Sharpe and his Rifles and the pursuing French hordes invading Spain in 1809. Right from the get go, the gore of the skirmishes leaves the reader feeling a bit queasy, and Cornwell rarely lets up. In fact I would say that every second chapter has some form of fight, conflict or attack that leaves the haggard main character, Richard Sha...more
Marc Haddock
I first met Richard Cornwell's books when I read his Arthurian series, and I've yet to read one of his books I didn't enjoy. I am working my way through the Sharpe series in chronological order and have enjoyed every one.

This book was written late in the series to provide an introduction to Sharpe and his Rifles, mainly to explain the relationship Sharpe forges here with his men and his brilliant Irish sergeant. It is great fun. The battle scenes are written with clarity and a great feel for act...more
Ernie
This series was recommended to me by Joe Wilson. He thought I would enjoy it since I enjoyed the Horatio Hornblower series. The characters, stories and adventures aren't as tightly written in this series as the other. But it was great fun. Indeed, I went on a binge read as you can see from the books read during the next month.

Some writers develop a plot formula and follow that in each book, changing the background. Cornwall tells a different story each time, while the background remains remarka...more
Matt
Just finished this novel today, tore through it in three days...I would have finished last night but I took a pause to waste my time watching TV instead (silly silly move).

First, I have to say I have tried to read one of Mr Cornwell's novel before and I could not get into it at all. This one was different. I purchased this on Sunday evening and started reading it Monday over lunch and read about a third of the way through on the first day. Tuesday was murder on the book, I read through lunch and...more
John Connolly
Bernard Cornwell was one of the first writers ever to say anything nice about me in print, and we entered into a brief correspondence – and an exchange of books – which I really should resurrect, if only to tell him how much I enjoyed Sharpe’s Rifles. I’ve dipped in and out of the Sharpe books, which details the exploits of the titular British rifleman during the period before, during, and after the Napoleonic Wars, but somehow I’d never read Sharpe’s Rifles, chronologically the first in the ser...more
Linda
Ok, so I wouldn't have read this series if my son hadn't been so enthusiastic about it. Sharpe is a military antihero in the British Army through part of the hundred year's war. Its sort of Horatio Hornblower on land. Love the adventures, loved the insubordination, learned a lot about the why's of the war. Lot of books in this series, this one's one of the best.
Heatherhh
These books were recommended to me as a Horatio Hornblower fan, but I found myself very underwhelmed. I found the characterization of all the characters to be quite shallow, and that does include Sharpe. Many of the characters actions were unbelievable like the falling in love or running hither or yon at the drop of a hat. I also found the main character to be quite unlikable, which never gives a book much chance of being liked by me. For me, the battle scenes dragged on and were uninteresting,...more
Trina
Great hook. There's something about the Napoleonic wars that stirs the blood. Sharpe's Rifles is like the Hornblower series, but on land. Bullseye if you like fast-paced action stories.
Melanie
Apart from the fact that Sharpe should have been blond, like Sean!
Nicholas Jasper
There are a dozen or so of these books. This one is neither the first written nor the first chronologically but it is the best. The intent of the series is to follow the career of Author Wellesy (The Duke of Wellington). Cornwell uses Richard Sharp to give us a look from the point of view of the guys down at the sharp end of the spear. Dicky Sharp is not velcro and hair gel bad; he is bad from his raggedy boots up. But more bad than Sharp is Sergeant Harper. If you don't read the whole series, a...more
Phil
I'm reading all the Sharpe novels in chronological order which presents the possibility for some interesting contrast when the difference in publication date is fairly long. Sharpe's rifles has a publication date of 1988 whereas the preceding novel, Sharpe's Prey, was published in 2001. Although the writing is fairly similar, there is a noticeable difference in Sharpe's personality. In Sharpe's Rifles he seems to wallow in much more self pity and certainly lacks the heroic can do no wrong charis...more
Graham
This was a precursor to the original Sharpe series, which will be of interest to fans as it properly introduces the various characters of his Rifles – Dodd, Hagman et al – and, of course, Sharpe’s right-hand, the immensely popular Harper.

Things aren’t all plain sailing, however, and the opening half of this book is fantastic at putting across the dissension and outright mutiny felt by the cut-off Rifles, who neither understand or want to follow Sharpe. As a result, Cornwell’s hero becomes ever...more
Dick Edwards
The French took Madrid in December 1808. The object in the strongbox is unknown. Major Vivar (Spanish) has left Madrid just one hour after the French arrived. He goes north into the mountains in the dead of winter. He is high in the mountains, but can see the French through a telescope. The Spanish King was a prisoner in France, and the brother of Napoleon was enthroned in Madrid. The British are allies of the Spanish, but only because they share a common enemy: Napoleon. The Spanish have almost...more
Jeff Yoak
Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series of historical fiction traces the adventures of Richard Sharpe through India and Europe through the Napoleonic wars. Sharpe begins life as an orphan of a prostitute and joins the army as a private to avoid a worse fate. Over the course of 24 novels and short stories, we follow his adventures, promotions, successes and failures. We also gain a ground-level perspective on the Napoleonic wars and insight into the life of a 19th century soldier through a compelling an...more
Justus
When you see one of these popular quasi-trashy series that have a million books written in non-chronological order I think you're always bound to be somewhat disappointed when you tackle them. Do you go in order of publication? That's what makes the most sense, I think. Yet Cornwell himself says to read them in chronological order. Not that his viewpoint has any special merit, all he did is write them and authors are far from the best judge of their works.

Over the years a number of people have a...more
Alan
A December tradition (missed only a couple of times) the past several years has been to read a historical novel. This started with the gift of four first edition Hornblower novels, and this year I decided to read the first of the Sharpe books.

Like many people my first exposure to Sharpe was the movies that ran on my local PBS station. The differences between Cornwell and Sean Bean's Sharpe are rather dramatic. In the book Sharpe is riven with doubt, and not just because of the British defeats in...more
Richard Wise
I am a lover of historical fiction and I have wanted to get into the Sharpe series for some time. I am glad that I did. At first I was a bit put off by Cornwell's characterization of Sharpe. I bought the book assuming since it was marked #1, it was the first of the series. I was wrong.

Sharpe is the son of a London whore who was raised in an orphanage and we are treated to some clumsy renderings of the effects of this physic damage in the first few chapters. As I got into the narrative, I reali...more
William
If you would like to fight in the Nepoleonic war, and experience what it was like to be a ground pounder on the battle field, read Bernard Cornwell's epic series about the fictional rifleman Richard Sharpe. This novel and it's companion books are full of cannonball, musket, sword play, and the rifle's effectivness in the war from a foot soldier's viewpoint. The Brittish Army of the early 19th century, and the officer corp's prejudice and resentment toward a private who gets promoted to officer r...more
Migdalia
Feb 19, 2012 Migdalia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction and tales of gallantry
This book tells the story of Sharpe's first command with the Rifles in Spain, recounting the retreat to Corunna. Sharpe's battalion, acting as rearguard to the army, are cut down by a squadron of French regular cavalry and they are cut off from their main unit. From then on the story follows the small band of surviving riflemen as they try to escape to Portugal and regroup with the British forces. However, they are interrupted in their journey and diverted by a Spanish Major, Don Blas Vivar who...more
Tim Weed
At least Patrick O’Brian had the good sense to stay away from female characters for the most part. Cornwell makes the mistake of trying to write them, and the results are (so to speak) not pretty. His women are caricatures or automatons, drifting from one motivation to the next at the behest of the plot, without any sense of internal logic of their own.

I can tell this book is an early effort, because I can see myself in it. He doesn’t quite have control of his characters, which has been a bugbe...more
Thomas
I really loved the first five Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell -- reading them chronologically, up to Sharpe's Copenhagen or whatever. I'm glad I did, because I think this one is pretty mediocre, comparatively. Maybe I just don't really give a damn about the Napoleonic Wars right now. Given the world-building Cornwell did in Sharpe's Rifles (and presumably beyond), the whole first five books really shouldn't exist, I guess. They're pulpy and improbable, to the point of, at times, being silly. T...more
Joyce Lagow
#6 in the Richard Sharpe series.[return][return]Two years have passed since the Copenhagen campaign, and in January, 1809, Sharpe finds himself, along wiht about three hundred men of the 95th Rifles, in Galician Spain running for safety, along with the rest of the defeated British army, from the French victory at Corunna. But in the retreat, Sharpe and the Rifles have become cut off from the main part of the army. Far from taking part in the fighting, Sharpe is Quartermaster of the 95th, a menia...more
Bjoern
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Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his mother's maiden name, Cornwe...more
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