Esio Trot ★★★✬☆

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Title: Esio Trot
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Short Story
Pages: 14
Words: 4.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Mr Hoppy is a shy elderly man who lives alone in an apartment, tending to his many plants, which have been the centre of his life since he retired from his job in a bus garage several years before. For many years, he has had a secret love whose name was Mrs Silver. She lives in the flat below his, and he frequently leans over his balcony and exchanges polite conversations with Mrs Silver, but his courage fails him whenever he prepares to hint at his true feelings for her.

Mrs Silver has a small pet tortoise, Alfie, who is the centre of her world. One morning, Mrs Silver mentions to Mr Hoppy that even though she has owned Alfie for many years, he has only grown a tiny bit and has gained only 13 ounces in weight. She confesses that she wishes she knew of some way to make her little Alfie grow into a larger, more dignified tortoise. Mr Hoppy suddenly thinks of a way to give Mrs Silver her wish and win her heart.

Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver that he — in fact — knows a way to make a tortoise grow bigger. He writes the following words on a slip of paper, and lowers it down to Mrs Silver:

ESIO TROT, ESIO TROT,

TEG REGGIB REGGIB,

EMOC NO, ESIO TROT,

WORG PU, FFUP PU, TOOHS PU,

GNIRPS PU, WOLB PU, LLEWS PU!

EGROG! ELZZUG! FFUTS! PLUG!

TUP NO TAF, ESIO TROT, TUP NO TAF,

OG NO, OG NO, ELBBOG DOOF.

Mr Hoppy explains that these magic words, when whispered in Alfie’s ear three times a day, will cause Alfie to grow bigger and bigger. Mrs Silver is doubtful, but agrees to try. (The words are, reversed, Tortoise, tortoise, get bigger bigger! Come on, tortoise, grow up, puff up, shoot up! Spring up, blow up, swell up! Gorge! Guzzle! Stuff! Gulp! Put on fat, tortoise, put on fat! Go on, go on, gobble food!)

Over the next few days, Mr Hoppy carries out the second part of his plan. He visits every pet shop in the city, and buys many tortoises of various sizes, but none that weigh less than 13 ounces. Mr Hoppy brings all the tortoises back to his flat and installs them in a makeshift corral in his living room. Next, Mr Hoppy builds a special tool to help him snatch the tortoise from Mrs Silver’s balcony. He fastens a handle to the end of a long metal tube, and a tiny claw at the bottom. By pulling the handle, the arms of the claw gently open and close.

The following day, when Mrs Silver left for work, Mr Hoppy selects a tortoise from his living room that weighs exactly 15 ounces. He carefully picked Alfie up from the lower balcony, and exchanged him with the new tortoise. When Mrs Silver returned home, she faithfully whispers the magic words in Alfie’s ear, but does not notice that an exchange has been made.

Over the next 8 weeks, Mr Hoppy continues to switch Mrs Silver’s current pet with a slightly larger tortoise, but she still does not perceive that her pet is growing in size. One afternoon, Mrs Silver comments to Mr Hoppy that Alfie seems a bit bigger, but can not tell for sure. Suddenly, Mrs Silver notices that Alfie can no longer fit through the door to his house, and exclaims to Mr Hoppy that his spell is sure to be working. Mrs Silver runs inside and weighs her pet, and is surprised to find that Alfie now weighs 27 ounces, more than double the weight he was before. Mr Hoppy summons his courage and asks Mrs Silver if he can come down and see the effect for himself. Mrs Silver, in raptures over her pet’s transformation, gladly grants his request.

Mr Hoppy runs down the stairs, nervous and excited to be on the brink of winning Mrs Silver’s love. Mrs Silver flings open the door, embraces Mr Hoppy, and expresses her admiration for Mr Hoppy’s magical spell. However, the tortoise cannot fit in the house now, so Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver to say the magic spell properly. On the next night he secretly replaces this tortoise with one slightly smaller one. His part works splendidly, and Mr Hoppy, suddenly emboldened by Mrs Silver’s warm smile, asks Mrs Silver for her hand in marriage. Mrs Silver delightedly accepts Mr Hoppy’s proposal, then adds that she thought he would never get around to asking. “All due to Alfie!” she cries.

Mr Hoppy secretly returns all the tortoises in his living room back to their respective pet shops, telling all the owners that they didn’t need to pay. Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver are happily married a few weeks later. The “original” Alfie is bought by a girl called Roberta Squibb after he is returned to a pet shop; moreover, after many years, he does indeed grow to double his size before.

My Thoughts:

You know, I ended up thinking the EXACT SAME THING as I did when I read this in ’12. An overly complicated solution to something that could have been sorted out in 5minutes. That’s not necessarily bad, but I was hoping for a new revelation (as it were).

Of course, being a short story of just 14 pages (with pictures mind you), it’s hard to get to the bones of the story, as it doesn’t have any 😀

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Flashman ✬☆☆☆☆

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: Flashman
Series: The Flashman Papers #1
Authors: George Fraser
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 231
Words: 100K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Plot introduction

Presented within the frame of the discovery of the supposedly historical Flashman Papers, this book chronicles the subsequent career of the bully Flashman from Tom Brown’s School Days. The book begins with a fictional note explaining that the Flashman Papers were discovered in 1965 during a sale of household furniture in Ashby, Leicestershire.

The papers are attributed to Harry Paget Flashman, the bully featured in Thomas Hughes’ novel, who becomes a well-known Victorian military hero (in Fraser’s fictional England). The papers were supposedly written between 1900 and 1905. The subsequent publishing of these papers, of which Flashman is the first installment, contrasts the public image of a (fictional) hero with his own more scandalous account of his life as an amoral and cowardly bully.

Flashman begins with the eponymous hero’s own account of his expulsion from Rugby and ends with his fame as “the Hector of Afghanistan”. It details his life from 1839 to 1842 and his travels to Scotland, India, and Afghanistan.

It also contains a number of notes by the author, in the guise of a mere editor of the papers, providing additional historical glosses on the events described. The history in these books is largely accurate; most of the prominent figures Flashman meets were real people.

Plot summary

Flashman’s expulsion from Rugby for drunkenness leads him to join the British Army in what he hopes will be a sinecure. He joins the 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons commanded by Lord Cardigan, to whom he toadies in his best style. After an affair with a fellow-officer’s lover, he is challenged to a duel but wins after promising a large sum of money to the pistol loader to give his opponent a blank load in his gun. He does not kill his opponent but instead delopes and accidentally shoots the top off a bottle thirty yards away, an action that gives him instant fame and the respect of the Duke of Wellington.

Once the reason for fighting emerges, the army stations Flashman in Scotland. He is quartered with the family of textile industrialist Morrison and soon enough takes advantage of one of the daughters, Elspeth. After a forced marriage, Flashman is required to resign the Hussars due to marrying below his station. He is given another option, to make his reputation in India.

By showing off his language and riding skills in India, Flashman is assigned to the staff of Major General William George Keith Elphinstone, who is to command the garrison at the worst frontier of the British Empire at that time, Afghanistan. Upon arrival, he meets a soldier who relates the narrow escape he made in November 1842, on the first night of the Afghan Uprising. After Akbar Khan proclaims a general revolt which the citizens of Kabul immediately heed, a mob storms the house of Sir Alexander Burnes, one of the senior British political officers, and murders him and his staff. The soldier, stationed nearby, manages to flee in midst of the confusion.

This tale sets the tone for Flashman’s proceeding adventures, including the 1842 retreat from Kabul and the Battle of Jellalabad, in the First Anglo-Afghan War. Despite being captured, tortured and escaping death numerous times, hiding and shirking his duty as much as possible, he comes through it with a hero’s reputation … although his triumph is tempered when he realizes his wife might have been unfaithful while he was away.

My Thoughts:

The byline by one paper’s review (on the cover but probably illegible at that size) is “Villainy Triumphant”. That is the most apt description for this book.

This was a vile piece of filth, a vomitorium of trash, something so wrong that it left me sputtering because I couldn’t finds to express my utter disgust and horror that something like this could exist.

Flashman lies, cheats, murders and rapes his way through this book and is not only unrepentant but glad he did everything he did. He also considers anyone not looking out exclusively for themselves as idiots of the first order. While Flashman might be a fictional construct, the author thought this up and I trust he will be judged in the end for having created something so vile.

Evil and vile are the two words that spring to mind. I am sickened and appalled that someone would write something like this for entertainment.

This month is not turning out well for me and books.

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator ★★★★☆

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: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Series: Charlie Bucket #2
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 117
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story picks up where the previous book left off, with Charlie and family aboard the flying Great Glass Elevator after Willy Wonka has rewarded him with the ownership of his chocolate factory. The Elevator accidentally goes into orbit, and Mr. Wonka docks them at the Space Hotel USA. Their interception of the hotel is mistaken by approaching astronauts and hotel staff in a Commuter Capsule and listeners on Earth (including the President of the United States) as an act of space piracy and they are variously accused of being enemy agents, spies and aliens. Shortly after their arrival, they discover that the hotel has been overrun by dangerous, shape-changing alien monsters known as The Vermicious Knids. The Knids cannot resist showing off and reveal themselves by using the five hotel elevators (with one Knid in each of them) and spell out the word “SCRAM”, giving the group time to evacuate. As the group leaves, a Knid follows the Great Glass Elevator and tries to break it open, but to no avail, which results in the Knid receiving a bruise on its backside and hungering for payback.

Meanwhile, with the Great Glass Elevator’s passengers gone, the President allows the Commuter Capsule to dock with the Space Hotel. Upon entry by the astronauts and the Space Hotel staff, the Knids attack by eating fourteen of the staff, prompting an immediate evacuation by the rest of the group. The Great Glass Elevator comes back just in time to see the entire Knid infestation coming in on the attack, bashing the Commuter Capsule to the point where the retrorockets cannot be fired to initiate immediate reentry and the communication antenna cannot keep the astronauts in communication with the President. Charlie suggests towing the Commuter Capsule back to Earth, and, despite a last attempt by the Knids to tow the two craft away to their home planet Vermes, in the process the Knids are incinerated in Earth’s atmosphere. Mr. Wonka releases the Commuter Capsule, while the Elevator crashes down through the roof of the chocolate factory.

Back in the chocolate factory, three of Charlie’s grandparents refuse to leave their bed. Mr. Wonka gives them a rejuvenation formula called “Wonka-Vite”. They take much more than they need (4 pills instead of 1 or 2), subtracting 80 years (which reduces their age by 20 years per pill). Two become babies, but 78-year-old Grandma Georgina vanishes, having become “−2”. Charlie and Mr. Wonka journey to “Minusland”, where they track down Grandma Georgina’s spirit. As she has no physical presence, Mr. Wonka sprays her with the opposite of “Wonka-Vite” – “Vita-Wonk” – in order to age her again. Mr. Wonka admits that it is not an accurate way to age a person, but the spray is the only way to dose “minuses”. Upon leaving Minusland, they discover that Grandma Georgina is now 358 years old. Using cautious doses of Wonka-Vite and Vita-Wonk, the three grandparents are restored to their original ages.

Finally, the President of the United States invites the family and Mr. Wonka to the White House to thank them for their space rescue. The family and Wonka accept the invitation (including the grandparents who finally agree to get out of their beds) and prepare to leave.

My Thoughts:

When I read the Charlie Bucket books back in elementary, middle and high school, I always enjoyed The Great Glass Elevator more than Chocolate Factory. Back then I think it was because of the SF elements (space, spaceships, aliens, negative land, etc) in Elevator that simply weren’t in Factory. So when I read the duology this year (Chocolate Factory was read in January) I was expecting to like Elevator more once again. Imagine my surprise when I got done this book and realized that Chocolate Factory is not only the better book but also more enjoyable.

Part of that is that the premise to this book is beyond even ridiculous. It’s hilarious and I still love it, but it just hit me that it WAS ridiculous this time around and so my enjoyment was lessened. I wasn’t able to enter into the silliness like Dahl intended. The other thing that lessened my enjoyment was that the other 3 grandparents played a part in the story this time and they were stinkers. Made me shake my head and wonder how Charlie turned out so well.

Other than that, I enjoyed the ever living daylights out of this. Willy Wonka is a genius who is always in control no matter the circumstances and Charlie is a smart boy who THINKS before he reacts. More kids need examples like that in their entertainment.

Rating: 4 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.

A Little Princess ★★★☆☆

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: A Little Princess
Series: ———-
Authors: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children’s Lit
Pages: 167
Words: 67K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Captain Ralph Crewe, a wealthy English widower, has been raising his only child, Sara, in India where he is stationed with the British Army. Because the Indian climate is considered too harsh for children, British families living there traditionally send their children to boarding school back home in England. The Captain enrolls his seven-year-old daughter at Miss Minchin’s boarding school for girls in London and dotes on his daughter so much that he orders and pays the headmistress for special treatment and exceptional luxuries for Sara, such as a private room for her with a personal maid and a separate sitting room (see Parlour boarder), along with Sara’s own private carriage and a pony. Miss Minchin openly fawns over Sara for her money, but is secretly bitter toward her for her wealth.

In spite of said wealth, Sara is not self-centered, rude, or snobbish, but rather kind, generous, and compassionate. She extends her friendship to Ermengarde St. John, the school dunce; to Lottie, a four-year-old pupil given to tantrums; and to Becky, the lowly, stunted scullery maid. When Sara acquires the epithet “princess”, she embraces its favorable elements in her natural kindheartedness.

After some time, Sara’s eleventh birthday is celebrated at Miss Minchin’s with a lavish party, attended by all her friends and classmates. Just as it ends, Miss Minchin learns of Captain Crewe’s unfortunate demise due to jungle fever. Furthermore, prior to his death, the previously wealthy captain had lost his entire fortune; a close friend from his schoolboy days had persuaded him to cash in his investments and deposit the proceeds to develop a network of diamond mines. The scheme fails, and the preteen Sara is left an orphan and a pauper, with no other family and nowhere to go. Miss Minchin is left with a sizable unpaid bill for Sara’s school fees and luxuries, including her birthday party. Infuriated and pitiless, she takes away all of Sara’s possessions (except for some old frocks and her doll, Emily), makes her live in a cold and poorly furnished attic, and forces her to earn her keep by working as a servant. She also forces Sara to wear frocks much too short for her, with her thin legs peeking out of the brief skirts.

For the next two years, Sara is abused by Miss Minchin and the other servants, except for Becky. Miss Minchin’s kind younger sister, Amelia, deplores the way that Sara is treated, but is too weak-willed to speak up about it. Sara is starved, worked for long hours, sent out in all kinds of weather, poorly dressed in outgrown and worn-out clothes, and deprived of warmth or a comfortable bed in the attic. Despite her hardships, Sara is consoled by her friends and uses her imagination to cope, pretending she is a prisoner in the Bastille or a princess disguised as a servant. Sara also continues to be kind to everyone, including those who find her annoying or mistreat her. One day, she finds a coin in the street and uses it to buy buns at a bakery; despite being very hungry, she gives most of the buns away to a beggar girl who is hungrier than herself. The bakery shop owner sees this and wants to reward Sara, but she has disappeared, so the shop owner instead gives the beggar girl bread and warm shelter for Sara’s sake.

Meanwhile, Mr. Carrisford and his Indian assistant, Ram Dass, have moved into the house next door to Miss Minchin’s school. Carrisford had been Captain Crewe’s friend and partner in the diamond mines. After the diamond mine venture failed, both Crewe and Carrisford became very ill, and Carrisford in his delirium abandoned his good childhood friend Crewe, who died of his “brain fever.” As it turned out, the diamond mines did not fail, but instead were a great success, making Carrisford extremely rich. Although Carrisford survived, he suffers from several ailments and is guilt-ridden over abandoning his friend. He is determined to find Crewe’s young daughter and heiress, although he does not know where she is and thinks she is attending school in France, as her late mother was a Frenchwoman.

Ram Dass befriends Sara when his pet monkey escapes into Sara’s adjoining attic. After climbing over the roof to Sara’s room to get the monkey, Ram Dass tells Carrisford about Sara’s poor living conditions. As a pleasant distraction, Carrisford and Ram Dass buy warm blankets, comfortable furniture, food, and other gifts, and secretly leave them in Sara’s room when she is asleep or out. Sara’s spirits and health improve due to the gifts she receives from her mysterious benefactor, whose identity she does not know; nor are Ram Dass and Carrisford aware that Sara is Crewe’s lost daughter. When Carrisford anonymously sends Sara a package of new, well-made, and expensive clothing in her proper size, Miss Minchin becomes quite alarmed, thinking Sara might have a wealthy relative secretly looking out for her, and begins to treat Sara better and allows her to attend classes rather than doing menial work.

One night, the monkey again runs away to Sara’s room, and Sara visits Carrisford’s house the next morning to return him. When Sara casually mentions that she was born in India, Carrisford and his solicitor question her and discover that she is Captain Crewe’s daughter, for whom they have been searching for two years. Sara also learns that Carrisford was her father’s childhood friend and her own anonymous benefactor and that the diamond mines have produced great riches, of which she will now own her late father’s share. When Miss Minchin angrily appears to collect Sara, she is informed that Sara will be living with Carrisford from now on and her entire fortune has been restored and increased tenfold. Upon finding this out, Miss Minchin unsuccessfully tries to persuade Sara into returning to her school as a star pupil. She then threatens to keep Sara from ever seeing her school friends again, but Carrisford and his solicitor tell Miss Minchin that Sara will see anyone she wishes to see and that her friends’ parents are not likely to refuse invitations from an heiress of diamond mines. Miss Minchin goes home, where she is surprised when Amelia finally stands up to her. Amelia has a nervous breakdown afterward, but she is on the road to gaining more respect.

Sara invites Becky to live with her and be her personal maid, in much better living conditions than at Miss Minchin’s. Carrisford becomes a friend and father figure to Sara and quickly regains his health. Finally, Sara—accompanied by Becky—pays a visit to the bakery where she bought the buns, making a deal with the owner to cover the bills for bread for any hungry child. They find that the beggar girl (now named Ann), who was saved from starvation by Sara’s selfless act, is now the bakery owner’s assistant, with good food, clothing, shelter, and steady employment.

My Thoughts:

When I read The Secret Garden back in ’12, I kept telling myself that I also needed to read Burnett’s A Little Princess. Well, it only took me 10 years, but tada!

Honestly, this didn’t hold a candle to The Secret Garden. Part of it was that this was a little rich girl, who while not spoiled, was given everything her father could. It didn’t ruin her, but the sympathy factor started much lower than in SG (that’s Secret Garden, NOT Star Gate SG1). Her riches to rags to riches story, while heartwarming, didn’t have the same depth as the kids in SG had, as they had to work at stuff while Sara just has to get through each day of being a servant. The idea of a benevolent, all encompassing “magic” was much more present here and almost made Sara’s riches to rags story feel like it had no impact, because “the magic” would take care of it all.

What I most remember about this story is the 1987 tv mini-series. We watched it in school (it was 6 episodes so we would have watched one part each time) and reading it now brought it all back. There is a scene where there is a pie gone missing that was reserved for the head mistress and the cook blames the scullery maid. The scullery maid knows full well the cook gave it to her boyfriend but nobody believes her. In the movie the headmistress is going on about the missing pie and demanding to know what happened and the cook just lifts her eyebrow and nods over her shoulder at the scullery maid. I didn’t even realize that scene from the movie had stuck in my head until I read it again in the book and bam, I could see it all again crystal clear. It so weird how images like that get stuck in your brain without even realizing it.

To end, if I had to choose between A Little Princess and The Magic Garden, TMG wins hands down. Doesn’t make Princess a bad book, but at most it gets a Participation Trophy, not a Winner’s Trophy.

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.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ★★★★★

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: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Series: Charlie Bucket #1
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 133
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Eleven-year-old Charlie Bucket, his parents, and four grandparents all live in poverty in a small house outside a town which is home to a large chocolate factory. One day, Charlie’s Grandpa Joe tells him about the legendary and eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, who owns the town’s chocolate factory, and all the wonderful candies he made until the other chocolatiers sent in spies to steal his secret recipes, forcing Wonka to close the factory. He reopened the factory three years later, but the gates remained locked and nobody is sure who is providing the factory with its workforce.

The next day, the newspaper announces that Wonka is reopening the factory to the public and has invited five lucky children to come on a tour after they find five Golden Tickets in five Wonka Bars. The first four golden tickets are found by gluttonous Augustus Gloop, spoiled Veruca Salt, chewing gum-addicted Violet Beauregarde, and television addict Mike Teavee. After the fourth ticket is found, the family begins to starve after Charlie’s father loses his job at the toothpaste factory and the only job he can find is shoveling snow from the streets during a severe winter. One day, walking home from school, Charlie sees a fifty-pence piece (A dollar bill in the US version) buried in the snow. He buys two Wonka Bars and miraculously finds the last Golden Ticket in the second. The ticket says he can bring one or two family members with him, and Grandpa Joe agrees to go, suddenly regaining his mobility despite being bedridden for almost 20 years.

On the day of the tour, Wonka welcomes the five children and their parents inside the factory, a wonderland of confectionery creations that defy logic. They also meet the Oompa-Loompas who help him operate the factory. During the tour, the other four children give in to their impulses and are ejected from the tour in darkly comical ways. Augustus gets sucked into the pipe to the Fudge Room after drinking from the Chocolate River, Violet blows up into a giant blueberry after chewing an experimental stick of three-course dinner gum, Veruca and her parents are thrown down the garbage chute after she tries to capture one of the nut-testing squirrels, who deem the Salts “Bad Nuts”, and Mike gets shrunk down to the size of a chocolate bar after misusing the Wonkavision device despite Wonka’s warnings, causing him to be “sent by television”. The Oompa-Loompas sing about the children’s misbehavior each time disaster strikes.

With only Charlie remaining, Wonka congratulates him for “winning” the factory. Wonka explains that the whole tour was designed to help him secure a good person to serve as an heir to his business, and Charlie was the only child whose inherent goodness allowed him to pass the test. They ride the Great Glass Elevator and watch the other four children leave the factory before flying to Charlie’s house, where Wonka then invites Charlie’s entire family to come and live with him in the factory.

My Thoughts:

At times I wonder how inextricably this story is linked to the 2 movies that have been made over the years. Being written in 1964, this story has stood the test of time. It has also stood the test of aging. I enjoyed this just as much now as I did back in gradeschool.

Fun and light with Dahl’s trademark humor in regards to danger.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Twits ★★★★☆

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 Twits
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 69
Words: 9K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

A hideous, vindictive, spiteful couple known as the Twits live together in a brick house without windows. They continuously play nasty practical jokes on each other out of hatred for one another.

They also keep a family of pet monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps. The Twits, who are retired circus trainers, are trying to create the first upside-down monkey circus, they will always leave the monkeys to stand on their heads for hours on end.

Mr. Twit has this glue call Hugtight in hopes of catching birds for Mrs. Twit to make into a bird pie. The monkeys try to warn the birds before they land on the tree, but the English-speaking birds do not understand the monkeys’ African language.

Once a week the Roly-Poly bird flies to visit the monkeys, to secretly save the birds by acting as an interpreter of languages. On a Tuesday night a group of four boys see the ladder next to this tree and they decided to walk up into it, not thinking or knowing that glue was on it. On the Wednesday morning Mr Twit sees that the boys have scared them away. Out of rage Mr Twit charged at them but they got away. Mr Twit tries several times to catch the birds, and tired of not getting anywhere Mr. Twit decides to go buy guns with his wife to kill them.

The Muggle-Wumps come up with an idea to use Mr. Twit’s glue to attach the Twits’ furniture to their ceiling. The birds came up with an idea to smear glue on the Twits’ heads. Shocked, the Twits rush into their home and see the mess. Mr. Twit suggests that they stand on their heads so that they are ‘the right way up’ The Roly-Poly bird then offers to fly the Muggle-Wumps all the way back to Africa and the Muggle-Wumps escape.

Hours later both Mr and Mrs. Twit are putting all their weight down on the heads and they catch the ‘Dreaded Shrinks’- their bodies compressing ‘downwards.’ Their feet shrink into their legs, their legs shrink into their stomach, their stomach shrink into their heads, and their head shrink into nothing but two pairs of shoes and old clothes. Mr and Mrs Twit are nowhere to be seen.

My Thoughts:

Ahhh, now this was some good stuff! Dahl can write the most horrible characters but unlike modern authors who revel in that disgustingness, he gives those revolting characters just what they deserve! The Twits are B-A-D people and they get everything coming to them.

At only 70’ish pages (and it would be quite a bit shorter without Quentin Blake’s absolutely wonderful illustrations), this is something that an adult can polish off in one sitting. It would also be a good starter book to introduce Dahl to younger readers who aren’t quite ready to sit down for a full hour or two.

Simply put, I like Dahl’s writing. He is funny and quirky and has the ability to write bad characters that are almost caricatures but don’t quite cross that line. He also infuses his childrens books with a child’s sense of justice and fairplay which I love.

Everything I wrote back in 2012 (when I first reviewed this) still stands.

Rating: 4 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.