Sharpe's Escape

April 20, 2005

Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Escape
Narrated (very well) by Patrick Tull

Richard Sharpe is a highly reliable product.

If the character himself could speak he might well complain, but the truth is that Cornwell has created a good character, a good supporting character, and a rich and powerful milieu to set him in. In addition, Cornwell is particularly strong when writing about that moment half-way between horror and adventure, describing moments of violence and death in a way that both advances his story and produces a gut reaction in his reader. A couple of scenes from his Arthurian trilogy gave me nightmares -- they still come to mind as I write this and I read those books several years ago.

The horrors that Sharpe encounters are the horrors of the Napoleonic Wars during the Penninsular campaign, the horrors of guerilla war and counter-insurgency, and the horrors of what happens when a column of brave men marches forward into a line of brave men firing muskets and cannons as fast as humanly possible.

The first half of the book builds up to one of these battles, described in all of its graphic horror, and in many ways this is the center of the book. The plot itself involves Sharpe, a Portugese officer who admires Sharpe, and a fine villain who is engaged in selling food to the invading French Army.

It made a very good audiobook. I find that when I read Sharpe in book-book format, I tend to stay up at night turning pages like eating popcorn. As an audiobook I simply found myself looking forward to the commute, and turning the book off when the kids were in the car. Horror, you know, is horrifying. Patrick Tull has a good voice for the novel and reads Sharpe marvelously well.

Posted by Red Ted at April 20, 2005 11:21 AM | TrackBack

I started reading this series, passing the books off to my dad as I finished them. I got sidetracked and stoppeed reading the series but I had to keep getting the books for my dad. Ended up renting the movies they made of the books also. I didn't think much of them but Dad liked those too.

Posted by: Mego at May 4, 2005 12:15 PM

I started watching the movies and turned the first one off after about five minutes. The actors did not look like what I imagined the characters to look like, certainly not like what Cornwell described, and I chose not to watch a blond Sharpe who was taller than a somewhat dumpy-looking Harper.

They make excellent audiobooks, fast-reading books, and while I find that Cornwell's writing is very visual, I would think that to film some of his battle scenes you would need, literally, a cast of thousands of extras.

Posted by: Ted K at May 4, 2005 03:32 PM
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