Sharpe's Rifles (novel)
|Publication date||December 1988|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback) and audio-CD|
|Pages||356 pp (hardcover edition))
352 pp (paperback edition)
|ISBN||ISBN 0-00-223233-2 (hardcover edition)
ISBN 0-00-617697-6 (paperback edition)
|Preceded by||Sharpe's Prey|
|Followed by||Sharpe's Havoc|
Sharpe's Rifles was the first prequel novel in the series written by Bernard Cornwell. It tells the story of Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809. Written ninth, the book naturally fits before Sharpe's Eagle which was the first to be written, although the later novel Sharpe's Havoc is set between the two.
The story recounts Sharpe's exploits in the retreat to Corunna. Sharpe's battalion, acting as rearguard to the army, are cut down by a squadron of French regular cavalry. From then on the story follows the small band of surviving riflemen (from the 95th Rifles) as they try to foment an uprising in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Sharpe's Spanish ally is Major Don Blas Vivar and they are fighting the Don's brother, the Count of Mouromorto.
Patrick Harper is introduced as well as the core group of the surviving company for the first time. Running along in the background is the other Irishman in the series, Captain Hogan, who appears for the first time at the very end of the novel.
In this book, Sharpe sees Captain Murray's heavy cavalry sword as clumsy and cumbersome, yet in India he wishes he had such a heavy sword to butcher people with. During his time in India he used a claymore which he found less cumbersome than the cavalry sword.
- Richard Sharpe – Lieutenant in the British army
- Patrick Harper – one of Sharpe's new group of Rifles
- Captain Michael Hogan – an Engineer, also one of Wellesley's exploring officers.
- Daniel Hagman– ex-poacher who is one of Sharpe's new group of Rifles
- Sir John Moore – commander of the British army in Portugal (mentioned, but does not appear).
- Major Blas Vivar – a Spanish ally
- Count of Mouromorto – A Spanish foe, ally to the French and brother to Blas Vivar
- Major Warren Dunnett – Sharpe's commanding officer who is captured by the French
- Captain Murray – Sharpe's superior who dies leaving Sharpe his own sword
- Louisa Parker – Young Englishwoman whom Sharpe takes a fancy to. Ends up marrying Major Blas Vivar.
Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science
The uprising in Santiago de Compostela is incited by the legend of St James the Moorslayer.
Sharpe's Rifles was adapted as the first episode of the Sharpe television series starring Sean Bean as Sharpe, Brian Cox as Hogan and Daragh O'Malley as Harper and guest starring Simon Andreu as Vivar, Julian Fellowes as Major Dunnett and Tim Bentinck as Captain Murray. The adaptation also introduced the character of Teresa Moreno (played by Assumpta Serna), Sharpe's future wife, prior to her introduction in the novels in Sharpe's Gold, as a colleague of Vivar and replaced the company of men from the novels with five key characters: three of these, Hagman (John Tams), Cooper (Michael Mears) and Tongue (Paul Trussell), came from the novel, the other two, Harris (Jason Salkey) and Perkins (Lyndon Davies), were invented. It added an opening sequence of Sharpe saving the life of Sir Arthur Wellesley (David Troughton) and earning a battlefield commission (an event that happened during the Second Mahratta War in the novels). Major Dunnett, who is merely captured in the book, is killed in the opening ambush, as is Sergeant Williams who survives until halfway through in the book. The backdrop of the retreat to Corunna was dropped and instead Sharpe is searching for an army banker, James Rothschild (Kerry Shale). Louisa, the primary love interest from the novel, is reduced to a minor character whose uncle turns out to be a colleague of Hogan and whose "aunt" is Rothschild in disguise (in the book she travels with her parents). Hogan is giving a larger role, manipulating Sharpe into assisting Vivar. The death of the primary villain Colonel De L'Eclin is altered slightly: In the book, he hides in Santiago with an army, in the television version, he returns alone to confront Sharpe and is killed by Perkins when he pulls a gun on him.
- 1988, UK, HarperCollins ISBN 0-00-223233-2, Pub date ? December 1988, hardback (First edition)
- 1989, UK, Chivers Audio Books ISBN 0-7451-5876-5, Pub date ? June 1989, Audio book cassette
- 1994, UK, HarperCollins ISBN 0-00-617697-6, Pub date 1 January 1994, paperback
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|