Sunday, 5 October 2008

Bernard Cornwell – “Sharpe’s Fortress”

Publ: 2000 ISBN:- 35798642
Rating: *****

I use the local library a lot but I cannot recall when I last ordered a book. Normally I rely upon what is on the shelves. This proved the exception. I was so keen to read it I didn’t wait until it either appeared in the library, an attic sale or a charity shop.
GB seems to think I read at an inordinate rate. In practice it is a combination of being a reasonably speedy reader and having a lot of free time. But it is rare for me to read a book at one sitting (or lying as this particular example was) but Cornwell’s Sharpe has me hooked. I went to bed at 6.00 pm with a meal after a busy day. It was my intention to read for half and hour and then have a snooze. In the end I went from page one to page 366 and didn’t set my head on the pillow until half eight. It brought meaning to the word "unputdownable". Wonderful. Can’t wait to get the next one.
Ironically, it caused me to analyse afterwards why stories may be particularly good and on no single count did it come out especially favourably. The plot itself was fairly predictable. Good guy gets plotted against by bad guys against backdrop of war. Characters are not especially well-delineated or described, either in the modern fashion as regards their motives and emotions nor in the way in which Victorian novelists were so prone to do. The background plot is already dictated for the author by the war in India and its campaigns. The story is seen only from the point of view of one character – Sharpe himself. The style of writing probably ranks a four out of five rating and the vocabulary the same. So why, after all that, is my rating five stars – the answer is partly that Cornwell is a brilliant story-teller and partly that the historical research has been so well undertaken that the setting is very educational.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello folks - your comments are always welcome.