Sharpe's Tiger

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Sharpe's Tiger
First edition cover
First edition cover
Author Bernard Cornwell
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Richard Sharpe stories
Genre Historical novels
Publisher Harper Collins
Publication date
2 June 1997
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback) and audio-CD
Pages 400 pp (hardcover edition))
352 pp (paperback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-00-225010-1 (hardcover edition)
ISBN 0-00-649035-2 (paperback edition)
OCLC 37750954
823/.914 21
LC Class PR6053.O75 S56 1997
Followed by Sharpe's Triumph

Sharpe's Tiger is the first historical novel in the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell and was first published in 1997. Sharpe is a private in the British army serving in India at Seringapatam.

Place of novel in series[edit]

Main article: Sharpe (novel series)

The first, chronologically, of the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell. This and the succeeding two novels set in India provide the back story to Sharpe's army life, filling in the stories mentioned in the later novels set in the Napoleonic wars in Europe and showing how this private began his climb up the ranks of the British army, a possible but rare event in that era.

It takes place in Mysore, India and tells of Sharpe's adventures and triumphs against the Tipu Sultan during the Siege of Seringapatam in 1799.

Plot summary[edit]

Richard Sharpe is a private with the British army, then invading Mysore and advancing on the Tippoo Sultan's capital city of Seringapatam. Sharpe is contemplating desertion with his paramour, widow Mary Bickerstaff. His sadistic company sergeant, Obadiah Hakeswill, deliberately provokes Sharpe into attacking him, and engineers the virtual death sentence of 2,000 lashes for the private. But Sharpe is rescued by Lieutenant William Lawford after 200 lashes are inflicted, in order to effect a rescue mission behind the Tippoo's lines.

Cover of the UK Paperback edition

Lawford and Sharpe are ordered to pose as deserters to rescue Colonel Hector McCandless, chief of the British East India Company's intelligence service. Although Lawford is nominally in command, Sharpe quickly dominates the lieutenant by force of personality and, without authorization, brings Mary on the mission. Joining the Tippoo's army, they discover that the Tippoo has set a trap for the invading British by mining the weakest (and thus most inviting) portion of Seringapatam's walls.

Before Sharpe and Lawford can discover a way to transmit a warning to the British, they are betrayed by Sergeant Hakeswill. Hakeswill has been captured in battle and the Tippoo orders him made a human sacrifice for victory, but Hakeswill secures the Sultan's mercy in exchange for revealing Sharpe's and Lawford's identity as spies.

Sharpe and Lawford are imprisoned as the British army prepares to assault the booby-trapped wall of the city. Mary helps Sharpe to escape, and Sharpe blows up the mine before the main British army can enter the trap. As the Tippoo tries to flee the city, Sharpe finds him in a dark tunnel, kills him, and steals his rich jewels. Sharpe throws Hakeswill to the Tippoo's tigers, but the recently fed animals ignore Hakeswill.


  • Richard Sharpe – the protagonist; private in the British army serving in India.
  • William Lawford – Sharpe's lieutenant who aids him in freeing Colonel McCandless.
  • Mary Bickerstaff – a widowed half-Indian army wife, now attached to Sharpe.
  • General George Harris
  • Major-General David Baird – a former prisoner within Seringapatam now itching for revenge
  • Colonel Arthur Wellesley – later 1st Duke of Wellington.
  • Colonel Hector McCandless – Scottish intelligence officer for the British East India Company, held captive by the Tippoo Sultan in the dungeons of Seringapatam.
  • Tipu Sultan – the Indian King who is killed by Sharpe. His red ruby and some of his other jewels are stolen by Sharpe.
  • Colonel Jean Gudin – a French adviser to the Tippoo Sultan.
  • Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill – becomes Sharpe's enemy, engineering his sentence to 2000 lashes.
  • brevet Lieutenant Fitzgerald – murdered by Hakeswill during a battle outside Seringapatam.
  • Ensign Hicks – the junior officer serving with the Light Company
  • Captain Morris – the commanding officer of 33rd Light Company
  • Major Shee – the commanding officer of the 33rd Regiment
  • Colonel Gent – the officer in charge of engineering the breach.
  • General Appah Rao – the Hindu officer and friend of Colonel McCandless serving in the Sultan's army.

Publication history[edit]

External links[edit]