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Sharpe's Trafalgar    by Bernard Cornwell order for
Sharpe's Trafalgar
by Bernard Cornwell
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2001 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

Sharpe's Trafalgar is an early episode in the career of Richard Sharpe. It is 1805 and he is on his way home from India with the precious stones looted from Tipoo Sahib's body at Seringapatam sewed into his jacket. He has taken ship on the Calliope, and finds an old acquaintance on board, together with an influential politician and his beautiful and enigmatic wife.

The Calliope is captured by a French warship, but later recaptured by an English vessel, the Pucelle, whose captain is a friend of Sharpe, and who has the task of finding and sinking the Revenant. Fleeing from the Pucelle, the Revenant meets and joins the combined French and Spanish fleets off Cadiz, and in turn the Pucelle joins the British fleet under Admiral Lord Nelson, which is trying to force battle on the enemy. The Battle of Trafalgar is a complete victory for Nelson, though he is killed in the action.

I am not a fan of Richard Sharpe, having been initiated into the history of the Peninsular War by reading Georgette Heyer's delightful The Spanish Bride, and being unable to avoid making invidious comparisons. However, this account of Trafalgar, written from the point of view of an ordinary ship of the line, is one of the best accounts of a sea battle that I have ever read - and I know my Forrester.

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