Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell (Four Stars)

Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell

(Four Stars out of Five)

This book started a series which now runs into the dozens. In addition to writing rousing adventure tales, Bernard Cornwell painlessly teaches us history. That’s what good historical fiction does. It bring history into the sharp focus of an individual. (Excuse the pun.)

I like historical fiction, but I’m a hard reader. Not just because I majored in history, but because I think that history is important. Real history, not what’s taught in our schools today. Men and women don’t just change the course of history occasionally; men and women make history.

Cornwell writes excellent historical fiction. He inserts fictional characters who interact with real people and events in a way that distills the times as well as the action into a cogent whole. Check your skepticism at the door and relax for the ride. It’s almost always an exciting one.

Sharpe’s Tiger opens in India 1799. Richard Sharpe, our tarnished hero, is following (though he doesn’t know it yet) Arthur Wellesley, later the 1st Duke of Wellington, as the latter starts his incredible career of service to king and country. Richard seldom sees Wellesley, of course, and doesn’t much like him when he does. Richard is a private; Wellesley is an officer. The twain seldom meet. None the less, Richard in his humble self-serving way is about to help Wellesley’s career; Wellesley will return the favor some volumes in the future.

A real battle in a real war. Painted warts and all, as told by one of the master tale spinners of our generation. History as a campfire tale.

A very good read.