© 1985 Bernard Cornwell
In Sharpe’s Enemy, Richard Sharpe vanquished one foe only to create another, this time the subtle French intelligence officer Pierre Ducos. Ducos is an enemy both to England and Sharpe, for with one plan he manages to ensnare Sharpe in legal turmoil that may end in a death sentence, and begin the destruction of the Anglo-Spanish alliance which is driving the French army back across the Pyrenees. Sharpe’s only hope is the possible help of a treacherous and dangerously attractive ‘Marquesa’.
Without giving too much away, Sharpe spends most of the book in trouble as an escaped and condemned outlaw working behind enemy lines. The escape tests Sharpe’s character several times, not just his resourcefulness; there are times when giving his parole or simply refusing to go one would make his life much easier, but Sharpe insists on making a fight of it.At the same time that Sharpe is engaged in a battle for his life, Wellington’s army and the French are moving toward one of the most decisive altercations of the Peninsular War: the Campaign at Vitoria. Much of the battle takes place without our rifleman, but it wouldn’t be a Sharpe novel without him making a dramatic entrance at a pivotal moment. The book is worth it just for the ending; being completely unfamiliar with the history of the Peninsular War, I flew into the book blind and didn’t know what surprises Wellington had up his sleeve or what fate would await him.
Although I missed the usual running interaction between Sharpe and his men, Honour offers plenty of excitement and a thoroughly satisfying ending that lifts the pall remaining from Sharpe’s Enemy‘s conclusion.
Next time: Sharpe’s Regiment invades France!