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Sharpe's Assassin

Sharpe's Assassin, December 2021
Sharpe #22
by Bernard Cornwell

Featuring: Richard Sharpe
336 pages
ISBN: 0062563262
EAN: 9780062563262
Kindle: B08X4Q7SX6
Hardcover / e-Book
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"If there’s an impossible job to do, Richard Sharpe’s still the man to get it done!"

Fresh Fiction Review

Sharpe's Assassin
Bernard Cornwell

Reviewed by Karen Siddall
Posted November 23, 2021

Thriller Historical | Suspense Historical

Although it’s been several years since the last new book in the Richard Sharpe series was published, Sharpe’s Assassin made it feel like it was only yesterday. Author Bernard Cornwell returns to the story of Richard Sharpe as if no time has passed at all.

In this book, Sharpe is at Waterloo regrouping in the aftermath of that fateful battle. Napoleon has been defeated and is in retreat when the Duke of Wellington calls on Sharpe’s unique skills to rescue a vital prisoner locked away in one of the French military prisons.  Accompanied by a British ‘exploring’ officer, Sharpe, Patrick Harper, and his band of handpicked men must take the prison and find their man before the commandant has all the detainees executed, and rush him to Paris as Wellington and the body of the main British forces arrives to occupy the city. Once there, Wellington and his diplomats will negotiate with the provisional French government to place a new king on the throne of France.

Sharpe’s Assassin is an excellent action-filled, superbly plotted return for Richard Sharpe. The story moves right along with fights, skirmishes, and exciting battle scenes that at times had me holding my breath and quite emotional. We see Sharpe’s point of view as an older, experienced soldier, one with reasons to live: Lucille and baby Patrick. This Sharpe is feeling his own mortality, briefly second-guessing his decisions, and at times he must struggle to prevent those thoughts from distracting him from his course.

Besides action and self-reflection, though, there is quite a bit of humor, love, and longing. Lucille and Sharpe’s relationship is loving, strong, and this touch of fun exists between the two. Also, I was happy to see the ever-loyal Patrick Harper at Sharpe’s side and their continual bantering. Sharpe is a dangerous, ruthless man, but with his people, he is kind, generous, and always has their back.

We get a good bit of interplay between Sharpe and Wellington and other historical figures. There is a reintroduction of an old enemy from Sharpe’s past, a thorn in his side he must deal with while attempting to do impossible tasks.

There is a recurring theme in the book that there are good men and women on both sides of the decades-long war. Sharpe is certain that he and many of the honorable French soldiers (including the novel’s most dangerous enemy) would have been good friends under normal circumstances.

There are wonderful physical descriptions of Paris as it was at the time of the Occupation with places and sights Sharpe and his men would have seen there such as the original Arc de Triomphe, constructed of wood and painted canvas, The Elephant of the Bastille, a colossal statue of an elephant intended to have been crafted out of bronze and installed on the site of the Bastille prison, however, only a plaster version was ever erected. Sharpe and his men also spend time protecting the Musée Napoléon (The Louvre), which, as any Sharpe fan will know, did not sit well with him at all.

I recommend SHARPE’S ASSASSIN to readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in stories related to the Napoleonic Wars or those who have read and enjoyed the previous novels in the series or even watched the television show.

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And the one man you want on your side.

 “Sharpe’s no fool. He’s a rogue, a damned rogue, but he has the devil’s own luck, and he wins his fights.  He's no gentleman, but for this job we don’t need a gentleman, we need a ruthless bastard. Just pray he wins.”

If any man can do the impossible it's Richard Sharpe . . .

Lieutenant-Colonel Sharpe is a man with a reputation. Born in the gutter, raised a foundling, he joined the army twenty-one years ago, and it’s been his home ever since. He’s a loose cannon, but his unconventional methods make him a valuable weapon.

So, when the dust is still settling after the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington needs a favor, he turns to Sharpe. For Wellington knows that the end of one war is only the beginning of another. Napoleon's army may be defeated, but another enemy lies waiting in the shadows – a secretive group of fanatical revolutionaries hell-bent on revenge.

Sharpe is dispatched to a new battleground: the maze of Paris streets where lines blur between friend and foe. And in search of a spy, he will have to defeat a lethal assassin determined to kill his target or die trying . . .

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