Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sharpe's Tiger, by Bernard Cornwell

So I decided once again to go into the field of historical fiction, deciding this time to go with the well-received Sharpe series, following the adventures of Richard Sharpe in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. I'm actually familiar with a sort of spin-off of this series, Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts, which is basically the Sharpe series, but in space! Since I quite liked the Gaunt's Ghosts series I decided I'd give Sharpe a try as well. I must admit that I still had some apprehensions about going into this series because it's historical fiction, which I usually have issues with. Overall I thought this book was rather good, though, and I look forward to reading more about Sharpe's adventures in the future. (I should note that this is the first Sharpe book chronologically, but by far not the first written in the series.)

Sharpe's Tiger is set during the Siege of Seringapatam in 1799, which was the final battle of the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. To provide a very broad and somewhat inaccurate description, the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War was a war between the Indian state of Mysore and their allies and Great Britain and their allies. Great Britain was interested in political and economic control of India and Mysore was interested in keeping them out of India. For those of you that payed attention in world history you're no doubt aware that India became the crown jewel of the British Empire so the end result of the campaign is never really in doubt. Much of the drama comes, instead, from the uncertain fate of the characters during the novel and hoping that they'll survive.

What I really liked about this book was that it was incredibly honest about the nature of warfare. There is a tendency within military fiction, even in the best-written, to make it very clean and honorable. Sharpe's Tiger, by comparison, shows you the blood, the gore, the looting, and the brutality of warfare, even in the early 1800's. You really get a feeling of the visceral and brutal nature of warfare which I personally haven't seen anywhere else in the fiction I've read. I found the subject material a refreshing change of pace from the usual sci-fi or fantasy pulp that I've been reading, although it's very similar to a lot of the Warhammer 40,000 books I've been reading, unsurprisingly I guess.

The other thing I really noticed was a lack of character development in this novel. I think a lot of this was because this was a prequel novel in the series so we're supposed to be already familiar with the characters. We see Sharpe get a little ambitious and begin his ascent through the ranks, but other than that there isn't a lot of development. I'm hoping when I get into the core books of the series there will be better fleshing out of characters making me more interested in their fates.

Overall pretty good and I hope to read more about Sharpe in the future.

- Kalpar

No comments:

Post a Comment