Britain's battle against Napoleon continues, now moving into the
1813 Vitoria campaign in Spain - but this time out Major Richard
Sharpe (Sharpe's Company, Sharpe's Sword, etc.) is more involved as
an undercover agent than as a military leader. The mayhem begins
when Major Pierre Ducos, Sharpe's arch-enemy, devises a scheme to
win the war and destroy Sharpe in the process. The plot? France
would sign a secret treaty with the Spanish king, breaking the
Spain/UK alliance. But, to bring this off, Ducos needs help from
both Spanish Inquisitor Father Hacha (evil) and Spanish
guerrilla-chief El Matarife (a monster) - who require mucho money
for their services. So, with an assist from Sharpe's old flame La
Marquesa (a.k.a. the Golden Whore), Ducos arranges for her rich
husband to challenge super-honorable Sharpe to a duel - resulting
in the death of the Marques (his fortune going to Ducos) and murder
charges against Sharpe. . . who is promptly convicted and hanged!
But: could series-hero Sharpe really be dead? Of course not. Thanks
to some last-minute gallows substitution, Sharpe is secretly alive
- and, with a teenage Spanish sidekick, he sets off on an
undercover-spy mission: find La Marquesa, learn why she helped to
flame him, and figure out just what the scheme is all about. Sharpe
tangles with the bloodthirsty Matarife; he rescues La Marquesa
(half villainess/half heroine) from a convent; he's captured by the
French; he struggles to preserve his honour, though sorely tempted
otherwise. And finally, as Wellington's men march on Vitoria,
Sharpe foils the scheme, chops up El Matarife (who has again
abducted La Marquesa), and prepares to march with the triumphant
Wellington into France itself. Vile villains, political derring-do
d/a Dumas, and dollops of zesty gore: another inventive, active
outing for the stalwart (if less than endearing) Major Sharpe.
'Richard Sharpe and the Victoria Campaign, February to June 1813.'
Major Richard Sharpe awaits the opening of the army's campaign with grim expectancy. For victory depends on the increasingly fragile alliance between Britain and Spain – an alliance that must be maintained at any cost.
Pierre Ducos, the wily French intelligence officer, sees a chance both to destroy the alliance and to achieve a personal revenge on Richard Sharpe. And when the lovely spy, La Marquesa, takes a hand in the game, Sharpe finds himself enmeshed in a web of political intrigue for which his military expertise has left him fatally unprepared. Soon he is a fugitive – a man hunted by enemy and ally alike…
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