Sharpe's Revenge (novel)
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Sharpe's Siege|
|Followed by||Sharpe's Waterloo|
Sharpe's Revenge is chronologically the twenty-first novel in the series written by Bernard Cornwell and published in 1989.
Unusually for a Sharpe novel the majority of its events take place during peacetime, with the Peninsular War ending (as true to historical events) less than a third of the way into the book.
The novel would mark the last time Patrick Harper fights as an actual member of the British Army, as he receives his discharge, signed personally by the Duke of Wellington, at the book's end (although he would be at Sharpe's side during the Hundred Days campaign, and later in South America during the events depicted in Sharpe's Devil).
The book also features the departure of one key character from the series, with a falling-out between Sharpe and Captain William Fredrickson, and also the introduction of a new principal character, Sharpe's third (and, so far as is known from the novels, final) romantic partner, Lucille de Castineau.
As the novel begins, in 1814 Richard Sharpe and his second wife Jane are on bad terms over Sharpe's imminent duel with Captain Bampfylde, resulting from the latter's cowardice in the previous novel, Sharpe's Siege. As duelling is illegal, Jane fears that Sharpe may lose either his life or his military career. She is keenly looking forward to the end of the war, and retirement to England, and to assuage her fears, Sharpe grants her power of attorney over the considerable sum of money he has lodged with his prize agent in London. Sharpe fights the duel, wounding Bampfylde in the buttocks, and sends Jane to England with instructions to purchase a country home in Dorset.
Sharpe takes part in the Battle of Toulouse, under the command of General Nairn who is killed in action, at which point Sharpe takes command, winning the battle. Shortly afterwards he learns that the war is finally over and Napoleon is defeated. Sharpe, with Harper and Frederickson, takes his men to Bordeaux to await transport to England. There he learns that Jane has closed out his account, withdrawing almost £18,000.
Sharpe and Frederickson are arrested by military authorities in Bordeaux, accused of stealing Napoleon's treasury, which has been concealed at Teste de Buch, the fortress they had captured in the previous novel. A witness statement by Napoleon's spymaster, Pierre Ducos, an old anatgonist of Sharpe's, reveals the source of the false allegation. Sharpe and Frederickson realize that only the evidence of the fort's French commander, Henri Lassan, will exonerate them, and with help from Harper and Captain Peter d'Alembord, the two men escape and set out to find Lassan.
In London, ignoring Sharpe's instructions at the urging of a friend, Lady Spindacre, Jane has taken a large and expensive town house in fashionable Cork Street. On hearing of her husband's arrest, she contacts Sharpe's former ally, Lord John Rossendale as directed in case of emergency. The two become lovers.
Sharpe and Frederickson make their way first to Teste de Buch, then to Lassan's ancestral home in Normandy, to which he has retired. They arrive shortly after Lassan's murder, by assassins instructed by Ducos, disguised as British riflemen. Lassan's widowed sister, Lucille Castineau, a witness to the murder, mistakenly identifies Sharpe as the killer, and on Sharpe's arrival at the farm, shoots and injures him. Learning of her mistake from Frederickson, Lucille takes the two fugitives in, and nurses Sharpe.
Harper and d'Alembord return to England to contact Jane and collect money. Jane refuses to receive them, and has Harper horsewhipped.
In Normandy, Frederickson grows attached to Lucille, and proposes to her, but is refused. He leaves for Paris to track down Ducos, leaving Sharpe to recover from his injuries. In his absence, Sharpe and Lucille become lovers.
Harper returns from London to confirm Sharpe's suspicions about Jane's loyalty, just as Frederickson sends word that Ducos has taken Napoleon's stolen treasure to Naples in Italy. The three men travel to Italy to confront Ducos, while Lucille, now pregnant, writes to the French prosecutor to exonerate Sharpe. Her letter is passed to Napoleon, in exile on Elba, who dispatches General Calvet, who faced Sharpe at Toulouse, to Naples in pursuit.
In Naples, Ducos has assumed the identity of a Polish count, bought the protection of the local cardinal, and assembled a small personal force of former French officers and locals mercenaries to guard the treasure.
Calvet contacts the cardinal, hoping to prevent the English from reaching the treasure before him, but the cardinal makes arrangements to confiscate the gold himself. Sharpe, Harper and Frederickson are intercepted by Calvet, and the former adversaries form an alliance; Sharpe will help to retrieve the gold for Napoleon in return for clearing his name.
The combined force successfully infiltrate Ducos's villa, capturing the gold and Ducos himself, but before they can leave the cardinal's forces surround the villa, cutting off access to the sea where Calvet's boats wait.
Sharpe loads a small cannon with gold coins and fires it among the Neapolitan troops. The ill-disciplined men break ranks to collect the coins, and allow the besieged company to escape by sea, taking Ducos and the remaining treasure with them.
Ducos is tried for the murder of Henri Lassan and executed by firing squad. Sharpe and Frederickson are cleared of all charges, but fall out when Frederickson learns of Sharpe's relationship with Lucille, and part on bad terms. Harper, discharged from the army, now also leaves Sharpe to return to Ireland. Sharpe returns to Normandy, to Lucille, and to a new life - no profession, no command, no troops, no friends, no money, and no wife.
The novel was adapted as the first episode of the fifth season of the Sharpe television series, introducing Cécile Paoli as Lucille, seeing Alexis Denisof take over the role of Rossendale and guest starring John Benfield as Calvet, Connie Hyde as Lady Molly and Milton Johns as Hopkinson. The adaptation was basically faithful to the novel but lost many of the connections to Sharpe's Siege as a result of an original story, Sharpe's Mission, being placed between the adaptations: Instead of the duel with Bampfylde, Sharpe fights a similar duel with Colonel Wigram, the officer who later commands his court martial, for insulting him at Toulouse and Lucille's brother is not Lassan but Maillot, the officer in charge of Napoleon's treasure (with their mother omitted entirely). Nairn's role is given to Major-General Ross, an original recurring character in the series, and the character's fate changed so he is merely wounded. D'Alembord is also omitted and other characters have their names changed, with Lady Molly Spinacre becoming Lady Molly Hardcastle and Lucille's married name change from Castineau to Duberre. Frederickson learns of Sharpe and Lucille's relationship much earlier, before travelling to Naples, leaving them semi-reconciled at the end and Ducos' death is altered, with Sharpe shooting him from a distance as he tries to escape. Lucille's pregnancy was also left out, since the adaptation was followed by another original story, Sharpe's Justice, and ends with Sharpe and Harper saying goodbye to Lucille and returning to England.