Extreme Measures ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Extreme Measures
Series: Mitch Rapp #9
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 412
Words: 132K



Synopsis:

From Vinceflynn.com

Now, Rapp and his protege, Mike Nash, may have met their match. The CIA has detected and intercepted two terrorist cells, but a third is feared to be on the loose. Led by a dangerous mastermind obsessed with becoming the leader of al-Qaeda, this determined and terrifying group is about to descend on America.

Rapp needs the best on this assignment, and Nash, who has served his government honorably for sixteen years first as an officer in the Marine Corps and then as an operative in an elite counterterrorism team run by Rapp is his choice.

Together, they have made careers out of meeting violence with extreme violence and have never wavered in the fight against the jihadists and their culture of death.

Both have fought the war on terrorism in secret without accolades or acknowledgment of their personal sacrifices.

Both have been forced to lie to virtually every single person they care about, and both have soldiered on with the knowledge that their hard work and lethal tactics have saved thousands of lives.

But the political winds have changed in America, and certain leaders on Capitol Hill are pushing to have men like Rapp and Nash put back on a short leash. And then one spring afternoon in Washington, DC, everything changes.

My Thoughts:

This was a good thriller. My only real gripe is the ending. The politician who had been doing her hardest to get Rapp destroyed has a complete change of heart when the bombs go off and suddenly she’s all Super Patriot. It was bogus. People like her WANT this country destroyed, which is what makes them so insidious. It also makes them impervious to logic and all rational thought. Sadly, there is only one way to deal with people like that and it almost never turns out well. So that was my gripe.

Rapp takes front and center in this book. There have been times when Irene Kennedy, the director of the CIA plays as big a part but this time she is barely mentioned and pretty much lets Rapp loose. For the record, I am completely FOR enhanced interrogation methods. They work, despite what the media may trumpet. They are liars, pure and simple.

(Man, I keep going off about real world politics here, sorry about that)

Rapp isn’t just a meat head with a steady gun hand. He’s a smart and capable operator and the badguys and people who oppose him would do well to remember that. Rapp shows his brains through the whole book and it was great to see him outmaneuver almost everyone. There is one other guy, Mike Nash, who is similar to Rapp, but Nash has a wife and several kids. Part of the story centers around him and the stresses this creates. I was afraid the terrorists were going to kill his family much like Rapp’s family were killed earlier. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen. But up until the leader of the islamic jihadists was killed, I just couldn’t tell if the author was going to go there or not.

I had taken a break from Rapp last year and started up again in January. I am finding that 3 books is about the right amount for me. So after this book I’ll be taking another break, reading something else and then coming back to Rapp for another 3 books. Balancing my reading is getting more and more complicated but considering that I haven’t had a reading slump in over 6 or 7 years now, well, that means it is working. * pounds fist * Yeah, I am THAT good.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Sharpe’s Prey ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Sharpe’s Prey
Series: Sharpe #5
Authors: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 246
Words: 103K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The year is 1807, and Richard Sharpe is at a very low point in his life. His beloved aristocratic lover, Lady Grace Hale, has died in childbirth, along with their newborn son. Her family’s lawyers then took all of Sharpe’s wealth (loot he obtained fighting in India), claiming it was Grace’s and that it now reverts to her family. Destitute and relegated to the menial job of quartermaster, Sharpe is on the streets of London, contemplating leaving the army.

First though, he revisits the foundling home where he was raised to get his revenge. He robs and kills Jem Hocking, his childhood tormentor.

Then a former commanding officer, Major General David Baird, finds him in a pub. Captain John Lavisser was assigned a bodyguard for a secret mission to Copenhagen, but the bodyguard was killed, supposedly by a common footpad, and a replacement is needed immediately. Baird persuades Sharpe to take the job. Lavisser does not want a bodyguard since he already has a huge servant named Barker, but orders are orders. Lord Pumphrey of the Foreign Office gives Sharpe a contact in case he runs into trouble.

Denmark is neutral, but has a powerful fleet. Napoleon wants to replace the ships France lost at the Battle of Trafalgar, and Britain is equally determined to see to it that does not happen. Lavisser’s task is to bribe the Danish crown prince to hand over the fleet for safekeeping. (Lavisser’s grandfather is the prince’s chamberlain, and they are also related by marriage.) If that fails, the British will have to seize the ships by force.

When they go ashore in Denmark, Sharpe narrowly escapes being killed by Barker. He walks to Copenhagen and goes to see Ole Skovgaard, the emergency contact. Skovgaard turns out to be the main spy for Britain in Denmark. Meanwhile, Lavisser defects to the Danes and “confesses” that the British have sent an assassin to kill the crown prince. Skovgaard reads this lie in the newspaper and locks Sharpe in a room to await Lavisser. Sharpe escapes just in time. Lavisser turns out to be in the employ of the French; he and his men torture Skovgaard for the names of his contacts throughout Europe. Sharpe manages to kill some of Lavisser’s henchmen and drive the rest off. During his stay at Skovgaard’s house, he and Skovgaard’s beautiful widowed daughter, Astrid, become attracted to each other. They eventually sleep together, and Sharpe contemplates settling down in Copenhagen with her.

When the British besiege Copenhagen, Sharpe joins them. The Danes refuse to surrender their fleet, so the British bombard the city. Sharpe, by now knowing the general layout of Copenhagen, guides a small force to the Danish ships, which have been prepared for burning in case the British break in. The men hide aboard the ships and safeguard them against burning. Meanwhile, Sharpe goes to Skovgaard’s, only to find he has been captured and tortured again by Lavisser, who obtains the names of the British spies. Sharpe rescues Skovgaard, kills Lavisser and Barker, and gets the list of names. The city surrenders, and the Danish fleet is captured intact.

Skovgaard will no longer work for the British after what they have done to his city. He also orders Astrid to break up with Sharpe, which she does. Lord Pumphrey has Sharpe sent back to England, as he does not want the rifleman to learn that he must have the Skovgaards killed; they know too much.

My Thoughts:

My issues with Sharpe and his behavior continue and as such I think I’m going to call it quits. I also really disliked that Cornwell, the author, kills off a woman and child to propel Sharpe on his continued path of anti-hero. Just like I discussed last month in the “Project X – V” post, villains are bad, and anti-heroes are not much better in my eyes.

So while the writing is great, the over all story is engaging and very interesting and I like reading these adventures, the in your face immorality of Sharpe and Cornwell’s philosophy of anti-hero’ness are too much to overcome.

If neither of those things bother you, then I would recommend trying out this series if you want some action packed historical fiction. If you would like a more positive set of reviews, Jenn at Eternal Bookcase has been reviewing the Sharpe books as well.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Protect and Defend ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Protect and Defend
Series: Mitch Rapp #8
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 336
Words: 105.5K



Synopsis:

From Vinceflynn.com

In Protect and Defend, the action begins in the heart of Iran, where billions of dollars are being spent on the development of a nuclear program. No longer willing to wait for the international community to stop its neighboring enemy, Israel launches one of the most creative and daring espionage operations ever conceived. The attack leaves a radioactive tomb and environmental disaster in the middle of Iran s second largest city. An outraged Iranian government publicly blames both Israel and the United States for the attack and demands retribution. Privately, Iran s bombastic president wants much more. He wants America and Israel to pay for their aggression with blood.

Enter Mitch Rapp, America s top counterterrorism operative. Used to employing deception, Rapp sees an opportunity where others see only Iranian reprisals that could leave thousands of Americans dead. Rapp convinces President Josh Alexander to sign off on a risky operation that will further embarrass the Iranian government and push their country to the brink of revolution. As part of the plan, CIA director Irene Kennedy is dispatched to the region for a clandestine meeting with Azad Ashani, her Iranian counterpart.

But Rapp isn’t the only one hatching plans. Iranian President Amatullah, has recruited Hezbollah master terrorist Imad Mukhtar to do his dirty work. For decades Mukhtar has acted as a surrogate for Iran, blazing a trail of death and destruction across the Middle East and beyond. When Kennedy s meeting with Ashani goes disastrously wrong, Rapp and Mukhtar are set on a collision course that threatens to engulf the entire region in war. With the clock ticking, Rapp is given twenty-four hours, no questions asked, to do whatever it takes to stop Mukhtar, and avert an unthinkable catastrophe.

My Thoughts:

Now this was a return to form and expectations. Mitch is set loose on terrorists who have kidnapped Irene Saddler, the head of the CIA. The background is that the Israeli’s have destroyed Iran’s “secret” nuclear facility using an infiltrator and in retaliation the leaders of Iran not only kidnap Irene but also shoot one of their ships and blame it on America.

It’s been 2 years since Mitch’s wife was killed and while he’s holding on, he’s not doing well. He’s at the point of being a mad dog but not one that’s crazy, if that makes sense. He simply doesn’t care anymore. But Irene’s kidnapping makes it personal as she’s probably the person closest to him that he hasn’t completely pushed away.

The action side of things is great. When Irene is kidnapped by jihadi thugs, I was concerned that Flynn might over describe things. Thankfully, he keeps it within bounds of decency while still showing what happens to her. There was no rape, which I have to admit I gave a sigh of relief for. That kind of thing in fiction can be a deal breaker for me. When Mitch gets going he was like a whirlwind. It was exhausting just following along but oh so exciting too!

On the political side, it was ok. A new president had been elected in the previous book and he was a democrat, just like in the previous books. I didn’t know how Flynn was going to handle him. Well, he’s a bloody hawk and pretty much tells Mitch to do whatever is necessary. He showed more backbone than most of the republicans today in real life. So I don’t expect to have any problems, just like I didn’t with previous books and the politics.

We’ll have to see if Mitch falls apart in future books or if Flynn writes him into getting some help. Personally, I’d like to see him get some help. On the other hand, if he goes nutso, I wouldn’t mind him nuking Iran, Afghanistan or even Belgium. You know, for variety’s sake 😉 What I am concerned about is either Mitch turning into a “one book, one girl” kind of man like Mack Bolan the Executioner or even worse, getting involved long term with another woman and getting her killed. I almost quit when Anna died in book 6 and I’ll quit for sure if happens in future books.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Act of Treason ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Act of Treason
Series: Mitch Rapp #7
Author: Vince Flynn
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 348
Words: 116K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Fallout from a horrific Washington explosion has just begun — and so has CIA superagent Mitch Rapp’s hunt for a killer with a personal agenda.

In the final weeks of a fierce presidential campaign, a motorcade carrying candidate Josh Alexander is shattered by a car bomb. Soon after the attack, Alexander is carried to victory by a sympathy vote, but his assailants have not been found.

When CIA director Irene Kennedy and Special Agent Skip McMahon receive damaging intelligence on Washington’s most powerful players, they call on Mitch Rapp — the one man reckless enough to unravel a global network of contract killers on an explosive mission that leads back to the heart of our nation’s capital…and the inner sanctum of the Oval Office.

My Thoughts:

After the last book, Consent to Kill, where I rage quit because the author took the easy way out and killed off Rapp’s wife and unborn child, I needed a time out with this series. A couple of months seemed long enough and so I dived back in, not sure what to expect.

Thankfully, I didn’t get Rapp immediately jumping into bed with either a femme fatale or a dusky heroine. The romance was nil and Rapp is shown to be pretty unstable. He’s still able to perform his job but he’s starting to age (I believe he’s 39 in this book) and he’s simply in denial about the tragedy.

I thought Flynn did an excellent job of showing a man who is cracking up. I really feel like killing of Rapp’s wife and baby was a mistake by Flynn, as I was looking forward to how he was going to balance the whole “killing machine vs family man” dynamic he had going. This book, while not redeeming that, at least didn’t make it greater by having Rapp turn into the stereotypical action/adventure character of a bedhopping manwhore.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Sharpe’s Trafalgar ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Sharpe’s Trafalgar
Series: Sharpe #4
Authors: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 306
Words: 131K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

In 1805, Richard Sharpe is to sail to England from India aboard the East Indiaman Calliope to join the 95th Rifles. He is swindled after purchasing supplies for the voyage. After finding out, he gets not only his money back, but also helps fellow victim Royal Navy Captain Joel Chase do the same, saving Chase from great financial embarrassment. Chase wants to show his gratitude, but is under orders to destroy a French 74 named the Revenant that is raiding the Indian Ocean.

The Calliope’s passengers include the lovely, young Lady Grace Hale and her much older husband, Lord William Hale. Sharpe is also astonished to find aboard Anthony Pohlmann, a renegade and former Maratha warlord (defeated by Arthur Wellesley in Sharpe’s Triumph), traveling under a false identity – Baron von Dornberg – but sees no reason to denounce his former foe.

Peculiar Cromwell, captain of the Calliope, spots the jewels (looted from an Indian ruler) Sharpe has sewn into his clothing and insists that Sharpe leave them with him for safekeeping, to avoid tempting his crew.

Sharpe becomes obsessed with Lady Grace, but his attempts to become better acquainted are unsuccessful, at first. However, she later questions him in private about “Dornberg”; while Cromwell and Dornberg denied knowing each other, she has observed them conversing frequently. Sharpe protects Dornberg as best he can. When Lady Grace gets up to leave, a sudden movement of the ship causes her to stumble, and Sharpe ends up with his arm around her waist. They eventually become secret lovers.

Cromwell leaves the safety of a slow convoy with his fast ship. Lady Grace becomes worried that they are sailing near French-held Mauritius. She ends up spending the first of several nights with Sharpe. Malachi Braithwaite, Lord Hale’s secretary, finds out and is angered, as he is attracted to Lady Grace too. Sharpe threatens to kill him if he tells anyone.

The Revenant appears. Before the Calliope is captured, Sharpe hurries to retrieve his jewels from Cromwell’s safe, but they are not there. Sharpe suspects both Cromwell and Pohlmann aided the French; both men board the Revenant. A prize crew starts sailing the Calliope to Mauritius. Later, the lieutenant in charge tries to rape Lady Grace; Sharpe goes to her rescue and kills the Frenchman in a swordfight. The French understand and do not punish Sharpe. One day, another ship is spotted. Sharpe manages to cut the tiller ropes controlling the rudder, slowing the Calliope. This enables Captain Chase’s Pucelle to capture the Calliope.

Chase invites Sharpe to transfer to his ship; Sharpe is reluctant to accept, until he discovers that Lord Hale has insisted on switching to the faster Pucelle, along with his wife. Chase confides to Sharpe that a French agent, probably Dornberg’s “servant”, negotiated a secret treaty with the ablest of the Indian Maratha leaders. If it is delivered to Paris, the French might send arms to the Marathas to start a new war against the British.

Chase does everything in his power to overtake the Revenant. Sharpe trains with the Marines for shipboard fighting and is introduced to a seven-barreled Nock gun (a weapon which future friend Patrick Harper will favour). A ship is spotted. The Pucelle gives chase, but loses it.

Meanwhile, Lady Grace tells Sharpe that Braithwaite is trying to blackmail her. He ambushes the man. Braithwaite produces a pistol and tries to negotiate, claiming he left a letter describing Sharpe’s affair, but Sharpe kills him. When the corpse is found, people assume Braithwaite had a fatal fall.

The Revenant is spotted, and a long chase commences. One night, Lady Grace hesitantly informs Sharpe that she is pregnant with his child, unsure of his reaction. He is delighted.

Just when it seems that the Revenant will get away, the combined French and Spanish fleets sortie, with Admiral Horatio Nelson’s fleet in pursuit. The Revenant joins the enemy fleet, while the Pucelle comes under Nelson’s command. When Nelson summons Chase to a meeting, Chase brings Sharpe along and introduces him to his friend the admiral.

When the British attack the enemy fleet, commencing the Battle of Trafalgar, Chase points out the Revenant to Sharpe. Chase sends the Hales to safety, over Lord Hale’s protest, while Sharpe joins the Marines. The Pucelle and the Revenant pound each other. The Revenant is captured. Pohlmann is killed by a cannonball. Sharpe finds the French agent and tosses him into the sea; the man cannot swim. Cromwell survives; Sharpe retrieves his jewels before reluctantly handing him over to Chase.

When Sharpe goes to find Lady Grace, he discovers that she has killed her husband. While the battle was raging, Lord Hale had confronted his wife over Braithwaite’s letter. He eventually told her that he would kill her and make it appear a suicide. He also promised to sabotage Sharpe’s life secretly. Sharpe sees to it his body is taken up on deck so it will seem that he was killed in the fighting. Upset at first, Lady Grace realises she is now free to do as she pleases.

My Thoughts:

In some ways this was better than previous books (no blasphemous Hakeswill misusing Scripture) but at the same time, it was worse as Sharpe commits adultery blatantly as can be and commits murder to cover it up. It reminded me of King David and Bathsheba, but sadly, without the repentance at the end.

I did enjoy the naval aspect of the story, which was quite different from Sharpe’s usual infantry fights. There’s a quick ending with the Battle of Trafalgar where the Frenchies got their backsides handed to them and Napolean’s dream died.

Overall, I had a good time reading this but am continuing to have issues with Sharpe as a person. I’ll try one more book, as I am enjoying these, but from everything Inquisitor Jenn has said, Sharpe stays the same, so I’m not expecting to go beyond the next book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Sharpe’s Fortress (Sharpe #3) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Sharpe’s Fortress
Series: Sharpe #3
Authors: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 274
Words: 114.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

In 1803, Arthur Wellesley’s British and sepoy army is in pursuit of the Mahrattas in western India, having beaten them in the Battle of Assaye. Ensign Richard Sharpe, newly made an officer, is beginning to wish he had remained a sergeant, as most of his fellow officers look down upon him, including Captain Urquhart, his commanding officer. Urquhart suggests he sell his commission if he is not happy.

Manu Bappoo, the younger brother of the Rajah of Berar, decides to turn around and fight the British again, with his best unit, composed of Arab mercenaries, leading the charge, but he is again routed. During the fighting, Sharpe is impressed by the bravery of a teenage Arab boy, Ahmed, and saves his life when the boy is surrounded. Ahmed becomes his servant.

After the battle, Urquhart reassigns Sharpe to the 95th Rifles, an experimental unit, though the transfer cannot be completed while the war rages on. For the moment, Sharpe is sent to manage the baggage train, under the command of Captain Torrance. The army is short of many desperately needed supplies, and Sharpe soon discovers why. Lazy and deeply in debt, Torrance has been selling them to the merchant Naig, with the assistance of Sharpe’s old nemesis, Sergeant Hakeswill. When Sharpe finds many of the stolen supplies in Naig’s tent, Torrance has his associate hanged immediately to avoid being implicated. Jama, Naig’s brother, is not pleased, so Torrance agrees to betray Sharpe into his hands. Hakeswill is only too glad to waylay Sharpe; besides their mutual hatred, he rightly suspects that Sharpe has a fortune in jewels looted from a dead enemy ruler.

Hakeswill ambushes Sharpe and takes him prisoner. He steals all of the jewels Sharpe has hidden on his person, then hands him over to Jama. Fortunately, Ahmed witnesses Sharpe’s kidnapping and gets away. He finds Sharpe’s friend, Syud Sevagee, who rescues him. Sharpe decides to let his enemies believe he is dead. Using this ruse, he catches captain Torrance alone and kills him in an act of summary justice.

The Mahrattas take refuge in Gawilghur, a seemingly impregnable fortress, perched high on cliffs above the Deccan Plain. Wellesley, despite his deep misgivings, has no choice but to attack anyway. Gawilghur is composed of an Outer Fort and an Inner Fort. While the Outer Fort is formidable, the Mahrattas expect the British to take it, though at heavy cost. However, the Inner Fort is so strong, they are confident it cannot fall. Once Wellesley’s army has been bled dry trying to capture it, the Mahrattas plan to emerge and destroy the survivors.

When two of Hakeswill’s henchmen are killed, Hakeswill realises Sharpe is responsible, so he deserts and finds service with the renegade Englishman William Dodd in Gawilghur. Who rules in Gawilghur, it is said, rules India, and Dodd intends for it to be him. When the Outer Fort falls, Dodd orders the gates of the Inner Fort be kept closed, trapping Manu Bappoo outside to be killed by the British. Dodd also murders Beny Singh, the weak commander of Gawilghur. However, Sharpe finds a way into the Inner Fort, a section of the wall which is weakly defended because it sits atop a steep cliff. The cliff, however, can be scaled. When Captain Morris, Sharpe’s commanding officer, refuses to give him men, Sharpe beats him, then takes charge and leads a group of soldiers inside and opens the gates. He then finds and duels with Dodd, only to find that Dodd is by far the better swordsman. It is Dodd who gives Sharpe the scar on his right cheek. Ahmed appears unexpectedly and attacks Dodd. Dodd kills him easily, but a cavalryman shoots him in the shoulder, and then Sharpe is able to kill him.

Hakeswill tries to flee, disguised as a British soldier, but Sharpe finds him. Sharpe retrieves most of his jewels from him, then backs Hakeswill up until he falls into a pit filled with poisonous snakes.

My Thoughts:

This was a good adventure story. Without a side character who is religious and devout, Cornwell didn’t seem to have a target for his religious vitriol and thus didn’t use Sharpe as a mouthpiece. Hakeswill is still around, but he talks a LOT less, so his abuse of the phrase “Scripture says” was cut down to a palatable amount.

Speaking of Hakeswill. The book ends with Sharpe pushing him into a pit of poisonous snakes and then Sharpe just walks away without confirming that Hakeswill dies. How stupid is Sharpe? He’s tried to feed Hakeswill to tigers AND have an elephant crush him but he never verifies. So I am fully expecting Hakeswill to survive and come back in the next book to cause problems yet again. Honestly, I’m surprised Sharpe just doesn’t bring him up on charges for not saluting him and have him flogged to death. What’s the point of being an Officer if he’s still going to think and act like a soldier of the line?

I am not at all familiar with the history of Britain’s conquering of India, as I’m more concerned with the American and British bit of history, so this has all been brand new stuff to me. I rather like it and am enjoying the story. There was talk about Sharpe being transferred to another company somewhere in this book and I think they were located back in England, so this might be the last of the Indian scenery. I guess I’ll find out in the next book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Sharpe’s Triumph (Sharpe #2) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Sharpe’s Triumph
Series: Sharpe #2
Authors: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 279
Words: 118K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Sergeant Richard Sharpe and a small detachment arrive at an isolated East India Company fort to transport 80,000 recovered rounds of stolen ammunition to the armory at Seringapatam. Whilst Sharpe and his men rest, a company of East India Company sepoys arrive under the command of Lieutenant William Dodd. Dodd abruptly has his men massacre the unsuspecting, outnumbered garrison. Sharpe is wounded and feigns death, allowing him to escape Dodd’s determination to leave no witnesses.

Back in Seringapatam, Sharpe’s friend, Colonel McCandless, whom Sharpe met four years earlier during the siege of Seringapatam (Sharpe’s Tiger), questions him about Dodd. Dodd deserted the East India Company, taking with him his sepoys, and McCandless has been tasked with bringing him to justice, lest it give others similar ideas. McCandless orders Sharpe to accompany him since he can identify Dodd.

Dodd joins Colonel Anthony Pohlmann, commander of Daulat Scindia’s army, at the city of Ahmednuggur and is rewarded with a promotion to major and command of his own battalion. Since the Mysore Campaign, the British have been pushing further north into the Maratha Confederacy’s territory. Scinda is one of the Maratha rulers who have decided to resist the British advance. Scinda orders Pohlmann to assign a regiment to defend Ahmednuggur, so Pohlmann gives Dodd command of the unit and instructions to inflict casualties on the British, but most importantly, withdraw and keep the regiment intact.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill correctly guesses that Sharpe killed the Tippoo Sultan four years earlier at Seringapatam and looted the corpse. Hakeswill frames him for an attack on his former company commander, Captain Morris. Given a warrant to arrest Sharpe, Hakeswill recruits six cutthroats to help him murder Sharpe, so they can steal the treasure.

Sharpe and McCandless travel to the British army, escorted by Syud Sevajee, the Maratha leader of a band of mercenary cavalrymen working for the East India Company. They reach the army, now under the command of Major General Arthur Wellesley, Sharpe’s former regimental commander and the future Duke of Wellington. Upon arrival at Ahmednuggur, Wellesley quickly launches a risky escalade without the usual days-long artillery bombardment, in a bid to take the enemy by surprise. He quickly captures the poorly fortified town, to the amazement of Dodd, who has a poor opinion of Wellesley. Despite this, Dodd manages to extract his troops from the rout and retreats to Pohlmann’s army, much to McCandless’s anger. In the chaos of the battle, Sharpe rescues Simone Joubert, the French-Mauritian wife of a French officer in Dodd’s regiment. Under the pretext of returning Madame Joubert to her husband, McCandless hopes to be able to reconnoitre the Maratha army. They do not leave immediately, however, and Sharpe spends the night in Ahmednuggur with Simone.

The next day, they reach the Maratha army. Pohlmann deduces McCandless’s real intentions, but knowing that his army vastly outnumbers the British, allows McCandless to see everything he wants. At the same time, Pohlmann tries to recruit Sharpe, offering to make him a lieutenant. He tells Sharpe of the various successes that lowly Europeans have had in India, including his own rise from East India Company sergeant to commander of Scinda’s army. That evening, Sharpe considers defecting, but, before he can make a decision, his and McCandless’s horses are stolen, with McCandless being wounded. Sharpe apprehends one of the thieves, who turns out to be one of Dodd’s men. Both Sharpe and Pohlmann suspect that Dodd ordered the theft, but Pohlmann only has the thief executed. Meanwhile, Hakeswill takes his request to arrest Sharpe to Wellesley, who informs him that Sharpe will not return for some time. He assigns Hakeswill to the baggage train in the meantime, infuriating the impatient sergeant.

The Maratha army moves on, leaving McCandless behind, at his own request. Sharpe decides to look after the wounded colonel, which he uses as a reason to refuse Pohlmann’s offer. Nevertheless, he begins to wonder about how he might become an officer. Recognizing the ambition Pohlmann has stoked in the sergeant, McCandless cautions Sharpe. At the time, almost all of the officers in the British Army came from wealthy families and paid for their commissions. Those exceptional few who rose from the ranks were resented and had little chance of advancement. Whilst McCandless recovers, Syud Sevajee locates them and delivers McCandless’s report to Wellesley.

When McCandless is recovered enough, he and Sharpe rejoin the army as it advances towards Borkardan. Using some of the Tippoo’s jewels, Sharpe buys one of Wellesley’s horses for McCandless, though he pretends to Wellesley that McCandless is the purchaser. The surprised McCandless learns about Sharpe and the Tippoo’s death. The next day, Hakeswill attempts to arrest Sharpe, but McCandless smudges the ink on the warrant so that it reads “Sharp”, not “Sharpe”, and refuses to let him take Sharpe.

After weeks of aimless marching, the Maratha leaders meet and finally decide to engage the British near Assaye. Pohlmann is given overall command. The British have two forces, one under the command of Wellesley and the other under Colonel Stevenson. Pohlmann plans to fight and defeat them separately, before they can join forces. Wellesley discovers that the enemy is closer than he thought and fully aware of the situation, but is still determined to attack.

Pohlmann sets a trap. He deploys his army at what he is told is the only usable ford of the River Kaitna, but Wellesley deduces that there must be another one between two villages on opposite banks of the river. Using the second ford, Wellesley crosses the river to try to launch a flank attack, but Pohlmann redeploys to face him. Wellesley’s aide is killed, and Sharpe takes his place. Back with the baggage, McCandless confronts Hakeswill about the warrant and warns Hakeswill that he knows he lied and that he will inform his commander. On the British left, the 78th Highland Regiment and the sepoys advance through heavy artillery fire and rout much of the Maratha infantry. On the right, however, the 74th and some picquets advance too far towards the village of Assaye and are forced to form square against attack from Maratha light cavalry. Dodd’s regiment then attacks the two pinned-down units.

Meanwhile, some Maratha gunners retake their guns and fire them into the rear of Wellesley’s men, so Wellesley orders a cavalry charge. During the fight, he is unhorsed alone amidst the enemy. Sharpe launches a savage attack, saving his commander and single-handedly killing many men. Friendly troops arrive, and a shaken Wellesley leaves. With the collapse of the Maratha right, Dodd is forced to retreat. Hakeswill finds McCandless alone and kills him to save himself.

As the Maratha forces flee in disarray, Sharpe comes across Pohlmann, but does not apprehend him. He also finds Simone Joubert. Dodd killed her husband during the retreat, so Sharpe takes her under his protection. Eventually, he catches up to Wellesley’s staff and is astonished when Wellesley rewards him by giving him a battlefield promotion, making him an ensign in the 74th. Afterward, Hakeswill tries again to arrest Sharpe, but Sharpe’s new commanding officer points out that the warrant for Sergeant Sharpe is useless against Ensign Sharpe. Sharpe forces Hakeswill, who initially refuses to acknowledge Sharpe’s new rank, to address him as “sir”.

My Thoughts:

I’ve been trying to think what to say about this book and author. I enjoyed my time reading this. Cornwell can write and write well and engagingly. The people, the situations, they’re all quite fleshed out and drew me in.

At the same time, the titular character, Richard Sharpe, is a godless, immoral jackass with an attitude. It makes it very hard for me to want to like him and I don’t want to read about a character who I don’t like. Cornwell, who I have gathered has a thing against Christianity, never cross the line. But he’s exactly like that annoying kid in the back seat who puts his finger ON the line and starts denying that he’s done anything wrong. The only real Christian character is an old doddering man who is so uptight that he could run a grandfather clock for a decade. It isn’t that that isn’t inaccurate, but it is that that is the only example Cornwell chose to use. Like I said, finger on the line.

I was introduced to Sharpe by Inquisitor Jenn. So when she read a much later book (Sharpe’s Rifles) I asked her if Sharpe still had his attitude on. Apparently, he still does. Which means the finger is staying on the line and it’s going to feel like Cornwell is going “neener, neener, neener” to me while I holler at our parents “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad, make Bernard stooooooooop” and he’s screaming “But I’m not touching him!”

With all of this, I’m going to read the next book and see if Sharpe’s attitude bugs me still. It might just be that it bothered me this time because like Scrooge, I had a sandwich with too much mustard or something. Or it could be that Sharpe IS a real jerk. I’ll be making up my mind next book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Sharpe’s Tiger (Sharpe #1) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Sharpe’s Tiger
Series: Sharpe #1
Authors: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 287
Words: 121.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Richard Sharpe is a private in the 33rd Regiment of Foot in the British army. The British invade Mysore and advance on the Tippoo Sultan’s capital city of Seringapatam. Sharpe is contemplating desertion with his paramour, half-caste army widow Mary Bickerstaff, due to his sadistic company sergeant, Obadiah Hakeswill. Hakeswill lusts after Mary, so he provokes Sharpe into hitting him before witnesses, company commander Captain Morris and Ensign Hicks. Sharpe is court-martialled; Lieutenant William Lawford, who is supposed to act as his defender, is absent and Sharpe is given the virtual death sentence of 2,000 lashes. However, the regiment’s commander, Colonel Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington), halts the punishment at just over 200 lashes. Lawford has been offered an extremely dangerous mission and has requested Sharpe. Sharpe agrees to go along if he is made a sergeant if they are successful.

Lawford and Sharpe pose as deserters to try to rescue Colonel Hector McCandless, Lawford’s uncle and chief of the British East India Company’s intelligence service. Sharpe’s flogging inadvertently makes their cover story more plausible. Sharpe quickly takes charge and brings Mary along, to protect her from Hakeswill and because she speaks several of the native languages. They are soon captured by scouts from the Tippoo’s army and taken to Seringapatam where they meet Colonel Gudin, a French military adviser to the Tippoo. During their interrogation, the Tippoo enters and orders them to load muskets. He then orders Sharpe to shoot a British prisoner, Colonel McCandless; he does, having noticed that the “gunpowder” he has been given is fake. The musket does not fire. After covertly telling McCandless that he is a spy, he is told by McCandless that the British must not attack the seemingly weakest portion of the city walls. (It is later revealed that the Tippoo has had mines buried there to blow up the British when they enter the trap.)

Lawford and Sharpe join Gudin’s troops, whilst Mary is sent to work as a servant in the household of one of the Tippoo’s generals, Appah Rao, a Hindu who, unknown to the Muslim Tippoo, is considering switching sides. As they search for their contact, a merchant who can pass along the vital warning to the besieging British forces. Gudin tests the pair further, giving them rifled fowling guns (Sharpe’s first exposure to a rifled weapon instead of a smoothbore musket). Sharpe’s shot is slightly high, but Lawford, to his mortification, ends up hitting a British scout.

As a further test, Sharpe helps defend a Mysore encampment which is attacked by the British. During the attack, Sharpe encounters Hakeswill and tries to kill him, but is stopped by Gudin, who wants prisoners. Back in Seringapatam, Hakeswill spots Lawford in the crowd, but does not betray him (yet). Sharpe is rewarded for his actions by the Tippoo and is allowed to visit Mary. He finds that she is attracted to one of Appah Rao’s men, Kunwar Singh, news which Sharpe takes in good grace. Meanwhile, the Tippoo orders the prisoners executed by his personal bodyguard, the fearsome Jettis, but spares Hakeswill when the sergeant betrays Lawford and Sharpe. The two are captured and Sharpe is tortured until Lawford reveals their mission. Gudin then tells them that the spy they sought in the city had been killed weeks before and fed to the Tippoo’s pet tigers. They are then imprisoned with McCandless and Hakeswill. During their imprisonment, Lawford teaches Sharpe to read and write to make him a more effective sergeant.

After days of bombardment, the British finally breach the wall and prepare to attack. With the assault imminent, Appah Rao orders Kunwar Singh to free McCandless, whilst the Tippoo orders Sharpe, Lawford and McCandless executed as a sacrifice to ensure his victory. Mary accompanies Singh and helps Sharpe escape. Sharpe, accompanied by Lawford, then sets the mine off prematurely. As a result, many of the Tippoo’s best soldiers are killed or stunned, and the British enter the breach in the walls. Rao decides to abandon the Tippoo and withdraws his men. Sharpe returns to Hakeswill and throws him to the Tippoo’s tigers, hoping they will eat the sergeant (though they inexplicably ignore him). Sharpe then encounters the Tippoo, who is trying to flee the city, kills him and loots his corpse.

The British capture the city and restore the Hindu rajah to the throne, as a British puppet ruler. Sharpe carefully takes no credit for killing the Tippoo to avoid having to surrender the jewels he looted.

My Thoughts:

I’ve got two gripes with this book then I’ll go into what I did like. One, this is chronologically the first book but not the first published book. I am a fan of reading a series in order of publication because of the layers involved that authors build up over time. Who knows what Cornwell revealed to me in this book that was a mystery in the earlier published books? Of course, now that I started out chronologically, I’ll be sticking to it. So poo to that! Second, Sharpe is an anti-hero asshole, at best. He’s the protagonist but by no means a hero. If he stays that way, we’ll have to see how many books I get through before giving up on this.

What I did like though, far outweighs those two things, at least for now. The writing. Just like any other hobby, once you’ve passed a certain level you begin to recognize when something is inherently correct and done well. That doesn’t mean you’ll always like it but you’re pigheaded to deny the craftsmanship behind it. Cornwell can write well and it shows. Each character is a “real” person in terms of personality and nobody is a cardboard cutout. When a book makes me see the events and not just “shown”, that also shows wordsmith skills.

This is “historical” fiction and while I’ve anecdotally heard that Cornwell is pretty good about keeping things faithful, that little word “fiction” makes that distinction pointless to me. What that practically means is that you won’t be hearing me write things like “Well, because of what I read by Cornwell, the blah, blah, blabbity blah, reasons, reasons, blah blah blah”. Ever. If Cornwell was a historian, he’d be writing dry, boring and dusty tomes (even though Matt might disagree with my assessment of most history books 😀 ), not adventure novels.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Last Mammoth ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Last Mammoth
Series: ———-
Authors: Manly Wade Wellman
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 139
Words: 40K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Sam Ward was yearning for adventure when a Cherokee man arrived from a distant village with a tale of a monstrous hairy creature threatening his land. The formerly peaceful beast went rogue upon the death of its mate, and the chief of the Twilight People sent Otter to ask for help. Sam’s quest quickly turns dangerous with new challenges and new enemies, but using their wits, skills, and courage, Sam and Otter finally face Giluhda, last of the living mammoths.

My Thoughts:

I was introduced to Manly Wade Wellman back in my middle grade days through his Silver John series, of which the library had several. In my desire to expand my reading circle I remembered those fantasy stories (or urban fantasy maybe?) and went alooking. Well, there don’t appear to be any ebook version of Silver John and the hardcovers run up to $900, which is so out of my price range. Therefore I had to settle for some other stuff by Wellman and this is the first of the prizes I found.

This is an action/adventure Western about a woolly mammoth going mad and trying to destroy an indian village. The omens tell them they must find a white man to help kill the mammoth and so they gt our main character. He has a nice rifle given him by Daniel Boone and so of course it gets destroyed near the beginning of the story. Can’t have the hero doing something silly like shooting the dang mammoth through the eye or something.

Overall, the interaction between the hero and his indian guide and friend was pleasant to read about. Seeing two brave men face danger together and overcome it is so much better than a lot of what gets written today.

At only 139 pages, this can slip into almost anyone’s busy reading schedule, no matter who they are. Do you remember when books were regularly under 150 pages. Bookstooge remembers, and approves!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger #3) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@30%

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The King of Plagues
Series: Joe Ledger #3
Editor: Jonathan Maberry
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 492 / 160
Words: 151K / 50K



Synopsis:

DNF@30%

My Thoughts:

By the 30% mark Maberry had used the term “hate crime” 15 times. I quit reading when he used the term to justify a muslim special forces guy beating people so badly that they ended up in the Emergency Room because they used words he didn’t like. It’s called Free Speech, for good AND bad. When you start telling people what words they can and cannot say or use, you have entered the Deep State.

So adios Maberry, you confirmed my fears about you and I’ll be avoiding you like the plague from now on.

Rating: 1 out of 5.