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Sharpe's Rifles

(Sharpe #6)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  15,156 ratings  ·  408 reviews
In 1809, Napoleon's army sweeps across Spain. Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is newly in command of the demoralized, distrustful men of the 95th Rifles. He must lead them to safety, possible only through the enemy-infested mountains of Spain. ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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Elizabeth Shea Hunter The not-kid-friendly parts of the book involve mentions of top-up lady parts, pretty gruesome war-time violence, and a multitude of old-time swearing …moreThe not-kid-friendly parts of the book involve mentions of top-up lady parts, pretty gruesome war-time violence, and a multitude of old-time swearing (eg "damn" and "bastard"). That being said, I became a fan of the series by watching my dad's VHS tapes of the television series from BBC. Maybe start there, as they are a bit less "graphic", as in they were made not to convey the brutality of the books for a wider viewer base. Im only just starting to read the books at age 29, so they don't really shock me, but they might be a bit much for a 12 year old.(less)
Ian Mapp Not really, they are all standalone stories, with some character's re-appearing. If you do read them in order, you have a choice. The back of the book…moreNot really, they are all standalone stories, with some character's re-appearing. If you do read them in order, you have a choice. The back of the books lists them in historical order (which is the way I am reading them) or in published order. This particular book is interesting, as it was published before (1988) the first 5 in historical order (published between 1997-2001). Hope that helps. (less)

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Alex Cantone
Sharpe knew himself to be a tough man, but he had always thought of himself as a reasonable one, yet now, in the mirror of William’s nervousness, he saw himself as something far worse: a bullying man who would use the small authority of his rank to frighten men…

In February 1809 the British army under Sir John Moore is routed by Napoleon’s forces and is in retreat to the port of La Coruna in North-west Spain’s Galicia region, hoping to escape in Dunkirk-fashion back to England. Lieutenant Richard
Carol Storm
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This read almost like an origins story for Sharpe. It shows how he first took command of the Rifles, how Sergeant Harper because his best friend, and how the British army began the long process of driving Napoleon and the French out of Spain.

The best thing about this book by far was actually nothing to do with Sharpe -- it was the way the author describes the uprising against the French. The way the Spanish peasants ambush and savagely assault the regular French troops has a disturbingly modern
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 historical a
Kate Sherrod
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
"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
Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you're not going to start at the beginning, this is a great place to start Bernard Cornwell's long-running Napoleonic War series. The events in Sharpe's Rifles take place when European hostilities between the French and English really took off, and it also contains the initial meeting between our hero Sharpe and his trusty sidekick Harper. Besides that, it's just a solid book in this truly action-packed series.

Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Number 6 in the Sharpe series.
This story takes place just after the French defeated the British at the battle of Corunna in 1809.
The British are in disarray trying to get to safety via the coast where the British fleet is waiting to evacuate the defeated army.
The 95th Rifles are separated from the main army and are being harassed by French dragoons. There are constant rearguard skirmishes which are taking a toll on the troops of the 95th. In one skirmish the last, but one, officer is killed. T
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
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
I've read many of his other series (Grail Quest, Saxon, Warlord, etc) but have not read any of the Sharpe's Rifles until now. Typically great fighting scenes, good characters, strong story. Brings the period to life. Now to find a bunch to acquire and read...eventually. 3 Stars ...more
Melissa McShane
I re-read this as research for the next Extraordinaries book, not for facts so much as Cornwell's gift for capturing the feel of the Spanish countryside and the grittiness of military life in the 19th century. Cornwell's style in this early novel isn't as solid as it becomes in later books, and there's a feeling of distance sometimes between the story and the reader, but that's really my only complaint. Richard Sharpe is a compelling character whose strengths and weaknesses combine to keep him f ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
One of the best books so far in the series. The superhero excesses from the Indian campaigns have been tempered and Richard Sharpe is caught in a more convincing posture as a freshman officer recently promoted from the ranks and struggling to impose his authority on a band of recalcitrant soldiers. His encounter with Harper is memorable and I look forward to further interaction between the two personalities. As usual, there is a romance element in the novel, and this too has been treated in a mo ...more
Samuel David
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have actually read several of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series before, but it had been some time ago. I was glad to re-immerse myself in a Napoleonic campaign of long ago. Sharpe is a hero that comes across as a real person. He responds authentically to the challenges he faces. I am not sure how much of the book is historically accurate, but it rings true to me.
Clearly, the campaign in Spain was a bloody one, and much of the book is devoted to military strategy and the nuances of battle. Some
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-novel
Cornwell owns the Peninsular War from a fictional standpoint. I am reading Esdaile's history of this campaign and Sharpe's Rifles rings true from start to finish. While this is not in the same league as the Aubrey/Maturin novels (but then no other books are), Sharpe's Rifles is a quick, gripping read. ...more
Lee  (the Book Butcher)
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sharpe-series
When people ask about the Sharpe series I usually refer them to this title. It's not the best but is very good. All the elements of the series are there. You get a good sense of Sharpe as a character. there's good character development non stop action and Cornwell patiented battle writing style. ...more
Feb 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
My first introduction to Richard Sharpe, soldier & reluctant officer. This is the book that tells how Sharpe ended up as the Leader of his Rifle contingent. I know little of the battles in this era (1809) between Britain & France or Spain & France, so always interesting to me to learn something new. Cornwell definitely paints the gritty picture of difficult marches & bloody battles with the weaponry of the day. I found myself invested in the lives of the main characters, although the character o ...more
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Sharpe. He's brought up from the ranks. Here's where he forms his posse. Also, attends a battle in Santiago de Compostela.

Damage: Severe beating by one of his own men
Ladies Banged: 1, minister's niece who ends up snubbing him (if you know the series, this is no spoiler)
Proper Officer Yet?: No.
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, war
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.
Lea Ann
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Ah okay, I get it. I kind of messed this up. When I was browsing a used book store in Riverside, California for a return flight read (that was my first mistake, travelling cross country with ONE book), I picked up a copy of Sharpe's Rifles that helpfully had a #1 pasted to the spine and the inside sheet placed it as the first book in the Sharpe series.

Listen, I have a love affair with Uhtred in Cornwell's Saxon Stories series. So I was fairly confident he could get me through a return flight. A
Chris C
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked the historical perspective on the Peninsular War as it is a time that I have little to no knowledge of however the writing itself was fairly lackluster. The characters did have some actual development but the seeming need of the author to always include a female character in a war setting makes other interactions less likely.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great adventure with a thrilling end.
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very fun read and the first of the Sharpe series I have read. If you're coming from the show to the books, like I did, it's very different. ...more
Roy Elmer
So, this is the sixth Sharpe book I've read so far, and quite a brief span of time. I do this from time to time. I'll pick up a series and read until the fatigue sets in. Discworld is the most recent example. The trouble with this approach is that it results in needing to take a breather and as the author's style and tropes become so familiar, it breeds a sort of complacent dislike for the material. Not because it isn't good, but because the turns of phrase can be repeated, or in Pratchett's cas ...more
Linda Banche
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robin Webster
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
‘Sharpe’s Rifles’ is centred on the mainly fictional account of events in 1809 after a small expeditionary army sent to Spain in 1809 to support the Spanish and to cut off the invading French Army's supply lines. The story opens when the British army is forced to retreat and Lieutenant Sharpe finds himself for the first time in charge of a unit of his Rifle regiment. They find themselves cut off from the main army and the soldiers are reluctant to take orders from someone of their own class. Thi ...more
Jul 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
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
Marc Haddock
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Rick Brindle
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The story that starts Sharpe's campaign on the mainland peninsula, although of course by this time he's fought in India, gained a commission for saving Wellington's life, and also helped out at Trafalgar. During that time he's become fabulously wealthy and then reduced to pauper again. Here he learns his craft as an officer, how to lead his company of riflemen who first want to kill him, and then grow to follow him. It's the start of the friendship between Sharpe and Harper. Sharpe gets a few hi ...more
Sam Taylor
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother, who 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 birth mother's maiden n ...more

Other books in the series

Sharpe (1 - 10 of 22 books)
  • Sharpe's Tiger (Sharpe, #1)
  • Sharpe's Triumph (Sharpe, #2)
  • Sharpe's Fortress (Sharpe, #3)
  • Sharpe's Trafalgar (Sharpe, #4)
  • Sharpe's Prey (Sharpe, #5)
  • Sharpe's Havoc (Sharpe, #7)
  • Sharpe's Eagle (Sharpe, #8)
  • Sharpe's Gold (Sharpe, #9)
  • Sharpe's Escape (Sharpe, #10)
  • Sharpe's Fury (Sharpe, #11)

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“Sharpe is the epitome of a nineteenth-century, romantic working-class hero. Cool, flash and fragrant … Escape and enjoy’ Daily Express” 1 likes
“Once they passed a village sacked by the French. Not a building remained intact, not a person was in sight, not an animal still lived.” 0 likes
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