Bernard Cornwell worked for BBC TV for seven years, mostly as producer on the Nationwide programme, before taking charge of the Current Affairs department in Northern Ireland. In 1978 he became editor of Thames Television's Thames at Six. Married to an American, he now lives in the United States.
From a previous book in Cornwell's acclaimed Sharpe series, Sharpe's Devil, we know that Richard Sharpe, up-from-the-ranks captain in the Duke of Wellington's army, lived at least until 1821. So this tale, which finds the English soldier pitted against the vicious General Guy Loup in 1811, during the Napoleonic Wars, lacks some suspense. Still, there's the tantalizing question of how Sharpe gets out of some very dangerous scrapes, both on and off the battlefield. Once again, the captain faces lethal enemies (Loup; a French spymaster), dangerous ``allies'' (an arrogant Spanish general; a nasty Irish peer) and tricky political situations (opposition among the Allies-Britain, Ireland, Portugal-to making Wellington supreme Allied leader). Some loyal friends show up as well, notably Sergeant Patrick Harper, with his seven-shot gun, giant frame and even larger spirit. In this 13th volume in the series, Cornwell's superb storytelling and skill at historical re-creation are in top form as he masterfully presents the carnage, clamor, stink and ``sublime joy'' of battle. (May)
'What makes these books such a successful formula is the blend of action, well-researched historical setting, colourful characterization and a juicy sub-plot' The Times