Sharpe's Fortress (Sharpe Series #3)

Sharpe's Fortress (Sharpe Series #3)

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With each new installment in his acclaimed Sharpe's historical series, Bernard Cornwell's enthusiastic following has grown larger and more vocal. Sharpe's Fortress will again reward those eager readers with authentic historical action, as Richard Sharpe's old nemesis Obidiah Hakeswill commits another treason, forcing Sharpe to seek revenge. Wellesley's army is besieging the Mahattra fortress of Gawilghur, an impenetrable bastion of rock and bristling cannon. Led by renegade Englishman William Dodd, its defenders will be almost impossible to dislodge…but this time, they're standing between Richard Sharpe and his reputation, his honor, and a sultan's stolen jewels.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780001055629
Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
Publication date: 04/01/1999
Series: Sharpe Series , #3
Edition description: Abridged
Product dimensions: 4.33(w) x 5.51(h) x (d)

About the Author

BERNARD CORNWELL is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling Saxon Tales series, which includes The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of the North, Sword Song, The Burning Land, Death of Kings, The Pagan Lord, and, most recently, The Empty Throne and Warriors of the Storm, and which serves as the basis for the hit television series The Last Kingdom. He lives with his wife on Cape Cod and in Charleston, South Carolina.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Richard Sharpe wanted to be a good officer. He truly did. He wanted it above all other things, but somehow it was just too difficult, like trying to light a tinderbox in a rain-filled wind. Either the men disliked him, or they ignored him, or they were overfamiliar and he was unsure how to cope with any of the three attitudes, while the battalion's other officers plain disapproved of him. You -can put a racing saddle on a carthorse, Captain Urquhart had said one night in the ragged tent which passed for the officers' mess, but that don't make the beast quick. He had not been talking about Sharpe, not directly, but all the other officers glanced at him.

The battalion had stopped in the middle of nowhere. It was hot as hell and no wind alleviated the sodden heat. They were surrounded by tall crops that hid everything except the sky. A cannon fired somewhere to the north, but Sharpe had no way of knowing whether it was a British gun or an enemy cannon.

A dry ditch ran through the tall crops and the men of the company sat on the ditch lip as they waited for orders. One or two lay back and slept with their mouths wide open while Sergeant Colquhoun leafed through his tattered Bible. The Sergeant was short-sighted, so had to hold the book very close to his nose from which drops of sweat fell onto the pages. Usually the Sergeant read quietly, mouthing the words and sometimes frowning when he came across a difficult name, but today he was just slowly turning the pages with a wetted finger.

"Looking for inspiration, Sergeant?" Sharpe asked.

"I am not, sir," Colquhoun answered respectfully, but somehow managed to convey that the questionwas still impertinent. He dabbed a finger on his tongue and carefully turned another page.

So much for that bloody conversation, Sharpe thought. Somewhere ahead, beyond the tall plants that grew higher than a man, another cannon fired. The discharge was muffled by the thick stems. A horse neighed, but Sharpe could not see the beast. He could see nothing through the high crops.

"Are you going to read us a story, Sergeant?" Corporal McCallum asked. He spoke in English instead of Gaelic, which meant that he wanted Sharpe to hear.

"I am not, John. I am not."

"Go on, Sergeant," McCallum said. "Read us one of those dirty tales about tits."

The men laughed, glancing at Sharpe to see if he was offended. One of the sleeping men jerked awake and looked about him, startled, then muttered a curse, slapped at a fly and lay back. The other soldiers of the company dangled their boots toward the ditch's crazed mud bed that was decorated with a filigree of dried green scum. A dead lizard lay in one of the dry fissures. Sharpe wondered how the carrion birds had missed it.

"The laughter of fools, John McCallum," Sergeant Colquhoun said, "is like the crackling of thorns under the pot."

"Away with you, Sergeant!" McCallum said. "I heard it in the kirk once, when I was a wee kid, all about a woman whose tits were like bunches of grapes." McCallum twisted to look at Sharpe. "Have you ever seen tits like grapes, Mr. Sharpe?"

"I never met your mother, Corporal," Sharpe said.

The men laughed again. McCallum scowled. Sergeant Colquhoun lowered his Bible and peered at the Corporal. "The Song of Solomon, John McCallum," Colquhoun said, "likens a woman's bosom to clusters of grapes, and I have no doubt it refers to the garments that modest women wore in the Holy Land. Perhaps their bodices possessed balls of knotted wool as decoration? I cannot see it is a matter for your merriment." Another cannon fired, and this time a round shot whipped through the tall plants close to the ditch. The stems twitched violently, discharging a cloud of dust and small birds into the cloudless sky. The birds flew about in panic for a few seconds, then returned to the swaying seedheads.

"I knew a woman who had lumpy tits," Private Hollister said. He was a dark-jawed, violent man who spoke rarely. "Lumpy like a coal sack, they were." He frowned at the memory, then shook his head. "She died."

"This conversation is not seemly," Colquhoun said quietly, and the men shrugged and fell silent.

Sharpe wanted to ask the Sergeant about the clusters of grapes, but he knew such an inquiry would only cause ribaldry among the men and, as an officer, Sharpe could not risk being made to look a fool. All the same, it sounded odd to him. Why would anyone say a woman had tits like a bunch of grapes? Grapes made him think of grapeshot and he wondered if the bastards up ahead were equipped with canister. Well, of course they were, but there was no point in wasting canister on a field of bulrushes. Were they bulrushes? It seemed a strange thing for a farmer to grow, but India was full of oddities. There were naked sods who claimed to be holy men, snake-charmers who whistled up hooded horrors, dancing bears draped in tinkling bells, and contortionists draped in bugger all, a right bloody circus. And the clowns ahead would have canister. They would wait till they saw the redcoats, then load up the tin cans that burst like duckshot from the gun barrels. For what we are about to receive among the bulrushes, Sharpe thought, may the Lord make us truly thankful.

"I've found it," Colquhoun said gravely.

"Found what?" Sharpe asked.

"I was fairly sure in my mind, sir, that the good book mentioned millet. And so it does. Ezekiel, the fourth chapter and the ninth verse." The Sergeant held the book close to his eyes, squinting at the text. He had a round face, afflicted with wens, like a suet pudding studded with currants. "'Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley,"' he read laboriously, "'and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof."' Colquhoun carefully closed his Bible, wrapped it in a scrap of tarred canvas and stowed it in his pouch. "It pleases me, sir," he explained, "if I can find everyday things in the scriptures. I like to see things, sir, and imagine my Lord and Savior seeing the selfsame things."

Sharpe's Fortress. Copyright © by Bernard Cornwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Stephen King

Consistently exciting...these are great novels.

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Sharpe's Fortress 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
bonz140 More than 1 year ago
This is the 3rd in the Sharpe series and the way the stories go, you can't wait to start reading the next (continuing) novel. These books must be read in chronological order. There are 21 books in the Sharpe series and they were not written in chronological order. Sharpe's Tiger, which is #1 in the series was written in 1997 whereas the first books (#8 & 9) were published in 1981. The most recently published one in the series of 21 books, Sharpe's Fury - # 11, was published in 2006. I've finished some of the other Bernard Cornwell series (The Saxon Stories & The Arthur Books) and they're all good. Also, I recently realized that the characters in his books are a lot like characters from Edgar Rice Burroughs novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a Sharpe book yet that I didn't like, and this one was great, too. There seems to be a slightly different style to this one -- Sharpe is a little darker, and in a way a little less central to the story. He's more cold-bloodedly violent, is more calculating, uses poor grammar, engages in a one-night stand (as opposed to the longer-term relationships he's usually in), and struggles with his identity and rejection by other officers and his Scottish unit. Hakeswill et al are up to their usual tricks, and the story of the siege is as good a story as Cornwell has written.
OToole More than 1 year ago
You wonder how he survives such punishment and wounds. But that is history and that is the way it happens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed all of sharpe's adventures and it is neat to go back to his younger days. Just wish that BC would let sharpe retire and finish the starbuck chronicles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story. Argaum to Gawilghur with Sharpe who is now struggling as an unwanted officer after his heroic deed at Assaye. You could almost smell the powdersmoke as Sharpe, Garrard and Lockhart storm the wall at Gawilghur. Sharpe leaves Hakeswill presumably to die and takes back his jewels. A fitting ending to a fabulous books in which Mr. Cornwell spins a yarn that takes you to the sultry plains of India. Sharpe has proven that he is a soldier if nothing else and a fine one at that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bernard Cornwell triumphs again as he rivots readers with his new offering in the saga of Richard Sharpe. Cornwell mixes historical accuracy of the British conquest of India with a gripping fictional presentation of the traditional good and evil element in the story line. One can only hope, that after reading Sharpes Fortess, fans can anticipate that Sharpe will truly 'march again, and again'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the third book in a series of about 15. The rest of the stories are excellently written and my most commendation to Bernard Cornwell.
Anonymous 13 days ago
Great read
ksmyth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The three Sharpe's novels set in India are among my favorites. They're longer and Cornwell does more with them. More than anything, they provide background to the Sharpe's stories that occur in the Peninsula. This is Sharpe's first experience as an officer, an ensign assigned to the well-trained 74th Regt. They don't need him, so he is detailed to logistical support duties which find him immediately assigned as an assistant to Captain Torrance, corrupt supply officer. Not surprisingly Torrance is in league with Sharpe's old nemesis Obadiah Hakeswill. Sharpe always finds a way to circumvent these "inside" problems and gets to participate on the impregnable fortress of Gawilghur. Cornwell is so adept at telling battle stories on a level that is understandable. He tells us just enough to picture the battle as a big picture, as well as helping us understand the soldier's individual role in the battle. Yes the story is formulaic, but many of the characters-McCandless, Stokes, and Sharpe himself are quite endearing. It's kept me coming back for more.
5hrdrive on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Incredible. The action never lets up until the final page and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I thought Sharpe's Triumph was excellent but this is far better. Moves to the top of favorite books for 2009.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While the Battle of Assaye (covered in Sharpe's Triumph) was a major defeat for the Mahratti forces of the confedration of western Indian kingdoms, Lt. Dodd, the renegade Englishman who has become Sharpe's personal target for revenge for the killing of Colonel McCandless, has retreated with his intact regiment, Dodd's Cobras, to the impregnable mountain fortress of Gawilghur. There, with the remnants of the Mahratti army, he plans to defeat the English army under Wellesley which must atttack and defeat Dodd if the English are to have any control and peace in the region. Confident of defending the fortress, Dodd intends to become Rajah of western India after destroying Wellesley's forces at Gawilghur.Meanwhile, Sharpe--now Ensign Sharpe, having been promoted after saving Wellesley's life at Assaye--is miserable trying to fit in as an officer in a Scots regiment. He is also forced to coexist with his Nemesis, Sgt. Hakeswill, who has lost none of his enthusiasm to see Sharpe killed (preferably slowly and in great pain) and to steal the Sultan Tippoo's jewels which Hakeswill now knows Sharpe owns. Incapable by his malevolent nature of refraining from whatever evil comes to hand, Hakeswill, partnered by a degenerate officer, steals weapons and other military stores and sells them to the enemy. Sharpe discovers the treasonous scam by accident, and this provides Hakeswill an opportunity to kill Sharpe and steal his jewels.Sharpe is captured by Hakeswill and turned over to the enemy, but Sharpe manages to escape. He rejoins the army as it prepares to assault Gawilghur. The rest, as they say, is history.Oh yes, there is a love interest, but in this book, Sharpe is the object of a double whammy as he loses not one but two women!Cornwell has few peers for this particular genere of historical action-adventure. The book is well researched; Cornwell provides an affterword of several pages explaining where he distorted history for the sake of the plot, and what the fortress looks like today.You care about the characters--you worry about Sharpe and his friends, and curse his enemies.Cornwell writes batttle scenes as well as Patrick O'Brain ever wrote the naval equivalent for the Aubrey/Maturin series; it would not be a surprise if Cornwell used O'Brian as an overall model. The one difference, I would say, is that O'Brian wrote memorable female characters who were integral to the series, whereas Cornwell's women are indifferently drawn and forgettable. Whether he emulated O'Brian or not, Cornwell's Sharpe series is outstanding in its own right. The climactic battle for Gawilghur is a real thriller--I could not put the book down until I finished, racing through the pages to the end.Highly recommended.
BruderBane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yelling, screaming, blood, war, sex, love, revenge, claymores, more blood, Highland soldiers and Richard Sharpe, what more can I say? Once again Cornwell impresses me with his quick wit and prosaic finesse and succeeds in bringing the reader to the frontline of Britain¿s campaign in India. Revenge is sweet for Sharpe and the reader in this highly audacious final chapter of the Indian campaign.
goldenboat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Three Sharpes in a row is probably too much of a "just good enough" thing; time to take a break. The setting isn't as fresh as the first two India books and when Sharpe turns into Conan the Barbarian it feels a little out of place. I'll return to the series but it's time for other things.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ethics res 2
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stories are fantastic tales of historical fiction. However, I am appalled at all of the misspelled words. Very distracting.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is tribe territory the first six books are. Join or get out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Typical entertaining Sharpe story. Typical lousy ebook from B&N, full of errors; it's clear there's no editorial oversight at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago