- Sharpe's Revenge (novel)
name = Sharpe's Revenge
image_caption = Recent UK edition cover
language = English
series = Richard Sharpe
release_date = 1989
media_type = Print (Hardback &
preceded_by = Sharpe's Siege
followed_by = Sharpe's Waterloo
"Sharpe's Revenge" is chronologically the twenty-first novel in the series written by
Bernard Cornwelland published in 1989.
Unusually for a Sharpe novel the majority of its events take place during peacetime, with the
Peninsular Warending (as true to historical events) less than a third of the way into the book.
The novel would mark the last time Patrick Harper fights as an actual member of the
British Army, as he receives his discharge, signed personally by the Duke of Wellington, at the book's end (although he would of course be by Sharpe's side subsequently during the Hundred Days, and later in South America during the events depicted in Sharpe's Devil).
Interestingly, the book also features the departure of one key character from the series, with
Captain William Fredricksonand Sharpe's falling out at the novel's end, and also the introduction of a new principal character — Sharpe's third (and, so far as is known from the novels, final) wife, Lucille de Castineau.
As the novel begins, Richard Sharpe and his wife Jane are on bad terms over a possible duel with Captain Bampfylde for his cowardly actions in the previous novel. Jane fears that Sharpe may lose his military career (duelling is illegal) or may die, and wants him to retire to
England. Sharpe tries to calm her fears by granting her power of attorney over his fortune if he should be killed. Sharpe finally duels Captain Bampfylde, wounding him in the buttocks after Bampfylde misses. Afterwards, Sharpe sends Jane off to England to purchase a country home in Dorset, despite Jane's objections that London would be more fashionable.
Sharpe takes part in the
Battle of Toulouse, serving under General Nairn until he is killed in the fighting — which point Sharpe takes command. After winning the battle, he is informed that the war is finally over and Napoleon is defeated. Sharpe, Sergeant Patrick Harper, and Captain William Frederickson take their men to Bordeaux to await transport back to England, while Sharpe also awaits word from his wife. He receives news that Jane has closed out his account with the Army agents — some £18,000. While in Bordeaux, Sharpe and Frederickson are arrested by military authorities and brought to court. It turns out that they are accused of stealing Napoleon's fortune, apparently hidden in Teste de Buch — the fortress they captured the previous novel. Sharpe's old enemy, Pierre Ducos, is named as witness, and is behind the false charges. That night, Sharpe and Frederickson realize that the only one who can exonerate them is Henri Lassan, the officer in charge of the fort during the war. With Harper's help, they escape their cell and start the journey to find Lassan. One their way out of town, they are helped by their old friend Captain D'Alembord, who promises to contact Jane when he reaches London.
Meanwhile, Jane has moved into a large house on
Cork Streetat the urging of her friend, the impoverished Lady Spindacre. Hearing of her husband's arrest, she contacts his old friend Lord Rossendale as directed in case of emergency. The two become lovers.
Sharpe, Frederickson, and Harper make their way to
Teste de Buch, where they are directed to Lassan's ancestral home in Normandy, where he has lately returned. It takes the group a month to travel to the home, during which time Lassan is murdered by Ducos men dressed a British riflemen. Lassan's widowed sister, Lucille Castineau, is a witness to the murder, and identifies the killer as Sharpe based on her brothers previous mention of the man he met at Teste de Buch. When the actual Sharpe arrives in Normandy, Lucille shoots him with a large gun, severely injuring him. It is only afterwards that Lucille learns of the true killers from Frederickson. She commits to taking care of Sharpe until he recovers, which could take several months.
Harper returns to England to gather money and check in on Jane while Sharpe recovers. He discovers Janes indiscretions when he runs into her in London and she feigns ignorance of him, commanding Lord John to whip him from their carriage. Harper fears telling Sharpe the news. Frederickson, meanwhile, falls in love with Lucille, but is rejected by her. He promptly departs for Paris (obstensibly to discover Ducos whereabouts), leaving Sharpe solely in Lucille's care. As the months pass without word from Jane, Sharpe concludes she has left him for another man. He becomes close to Lucille as he is forced to learn French, and eventually they become lovers. Harper returns from London to confirm Sharpe's suspicions about his wife, just as Frederickson sends word that Ducos has taken the treasure to Naples. The three depart for Italy, just as Lucille discovers she is pregnant. Hoping to clear Sharpe's name, she sends a letter to the authorities explaining that it was Ducos who murdered her brother and stole the fortune. The attorney forwards to information to Napoleon on Elba, who dispatches General Calvet (who faced Sharpe at Toulouse) to Naples.
In Naples, Ducos has assumed the identity of a Polish count and bought the protection of the local Cardinal. His men, former French officers and hired locals, guard the gold until they can split the shares at the end of the year. Calvet visits the Cardinal hoping to gain help and stop the English from reaching the treasure first, but instead the Cardinal makes arrangements to confiscate the gold himself. Sharpe and his men finally come within a short distance of Ducos Villa, only to be headed off by Calvet, who makes them promise to retrieve the fortune only for Napoleon. Sharpe is now a mercenary for the French, serving under his former enemy. Calvet suspects the Cardinal's plans, and sends a group of men to secure boats for a sea retreat after the gold is recovered.
The English and French attack the Villa at night, the three riflemen infiltrating the Villa while the French fire at the ramparts. Ducos' men run away, leaving him to be captured by Sharpe, but not before being shot by Ducos. Neapolitan troops arrive just as the Villa is taken, demanding that the men leave without the treasure, which belongs to Naples. There are too many men to fight, and all seems lost as the Neapolitans block the path to the sea, until Sharpe comes up with a plan. Knowing the lack of discipline among the enemy, the gold coinage is loaded into a small cannon owned by Ducos. Sharpe fires the cannon at the troops, letting the gold fall down to them. He then shoots further treasure progressively further away, leading the Neapolitans to break ranks and move away from the route to the sea. The French and Riflemen load up the more valuable jewels and make a run for the boats, dragging Ducos along with them.
The treasure returns to Elba with Calvet (but not before Sharpe takes some for himself). Ducos is tried for the murder of Henri Lassan and executed by firing squad. Sharpe and Frederickson are cleared of all charges and offered new postings, as well as future promotion. However, all did not end well. Frederickson brings up the subject of Lucille, suggesting that he will work hard until she agrees to marry him. Sharpe is forced to admit his relationship, which Frederickson had not known about (believing Sharpe to dislike her). Frederickson damns Sharpe, and they do not see each other again — the friendship is broken. Soon after, Harper leaves for Ireland, parting ways with Sharpe, perhaps permanently. The war is over, and Sharpe returns to Normandy — no command, no troops, no friends, no money, and no wife.
* [http://bernardcornwell.net/index.cfm?page=2&BookId=16 Section from Bernard Cornwell's website on "Sharpe's Revenge"]
* [http://napoleonistyka.atspace.com/SHARPE_GLORY_HUNTER.htm Major Sharpe - humor]
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