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Sharpe's Triumph by Bernard Cornwell
ISBN 10: 0006510302
ISBN 13: 978-0006510307
Paperback published 5 July 1999
So following on from my reread of Sharpe's Tiger, we have Sharpe's Triumph. Subtitled "Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Assaye, September 1803" Triumph sees Sharpe as Sergeant to Major John Stokes, engineer and officer in charge of the armoury in Seringapatam.
The novel starts with Sharpe witness to a massacre at Chasalgaon. The massacre is carried out under the orders of William Dodd, a new enemy for Sharpe. Sharpe feels guilt for the murders of his comrades and when Colonel McCandless offers him a chance to help capture Dodd, Sharpe jumps at the chance to seek his revenge.
This quest to bring Dodd to justice leads Sharpe and McCandless through Ahmednuggur, an encounter with a French woman, a chance to see the enemy up close, including Anthony Pohlmann the one time Sergeant in the East India Company but now Colonel of the Mahratta armies and the planting on an aspiration in Sharpe's head which spurs him on. This aspiration has a chance to be realised at Assaye, where Sir Arthur Wellesley with his small army against the Mahratta massed armies.
As you may have gathered, this gives us all the necessary ingredients for the master of formulaic historical storytelling. As with Sharpe's Tiger, Cornwell knows how to tell an interesting story. We get sucked into the fortunes of Sharpe and McCandless and also to the determination of Obadiah Hakeswill who returns to try and get his revenge on Sharpe. Cornwell is great at writing fictional characters and giving historical characters a more human face.
I could hardly put this book down; I was really swept along on the story and the simple style of storytelling that Cornwell uses. As always Cornwell's vivid prose is fantastic. His descriptions of the battles really do make you feel that you are there. You get told of the sights and sounds in battles as well as getting every stroke of individual battles explained in detail. This is a trait that Cornwell uses to a great extent and to great success.
Triumph develops Sharpe's character further by explaining how he began on his upward ladder in the Army. This was a detail which had never truly been explained in the original set of novels though was often mentioned. To finally have this piece of information shows how Wellesley personally knew of Sharpe's ferocity in battle. Though still a relative beginner at battle, Sharpe shows his natural abilities and we get to see Sharpe's first sword fight, something he improves with again over the coming books.
The arc of the India trilogy continues with Sharpe's Fortress which is next on my list to read and Triumph does feel a little like an introduction at some points as several stories are not resolved at the end of the book. Perhaps it would be kinder to say this is simply part two of a three part story.
Sharpe's Battle is part of a series of books by Bernard Cornwell, the series is based on a fictional British Soldier, Richard Sharpe during the 17/1800's, it is historically fiction based on real battles and sometimes real events during this time. The books where originally during the Napoleonic wars but Bernard Cornwell has since written about his time before this war, this one of them.
This book was published in 1998, by HarperCollins and is also available in audio book and was set after Sharpe's Tiger about 4 years.
The book is based in India in the year 1803 with Sharpe serving as a Sergeant before he got his field commission. Sharpe is following a company from the East India Company who have deserted, the books leads through his campaign to the final battle at Assaye where Sharpe has to help rally the troops to defeat enemy, it also introduces Hakeswill to the series
Richard Sharpe - British Army Sergeant
Obidiah Hakeswill - British Army Sergeant
William Dodd - British Army Major
Sir Arthur Wellesley - British Army Commander
Anthony Pohlmann - Mercenary
Scindia - Indian rajah