Colonel Leroux is killing Britain's most valuable spies, and it's up to Richard Sharpe to stop him. Thrust into the unfamiliar world of political and military intrigue, Sharpe must tangle with La Marquesa, a beguiling, extraordinarily beautiful woman whose embrace is as calculating as it is passionate. As she leads him through a maze of secrecy, cunning, and deception, Sharpe relentlessly pursues Leroux, determined to exact his revenge with the cold steel of his sword.
This powerful, exciting novel, the fourth in Cornwell's fine series on the Napoleonic Wars (e.g., Sharpe's Honour, Audio Reviews, LJ 5/15/95), focuses on a key turning point: Wellington's defeat of the French in the Battle of Salamanca. Sharpe, who embodies the heroism of the common soldier, dies a dozen deaths in his struggle against Colonel Leroux, the man responsible for killing Britain's top spies. Sharpe falls into the beguiling Marquesa's web, blissfully unaware that the actions of this passionate beauty will determine victor and vanquished. The author details military strategy, pits infantry against cavalry, and shows how class considerations impact the entire conduct of the war, including medical treatment of wounded officers and low-born soldiers. A valuable epilog reveals how closely the recording captures the historic individuals and locations. The television miniseries and reader Frederick Davidson's performance will provide a large audience for this outstanding work. Highly recommended.-James Dudley, Copiague, N.Y.