Action and Adventure in India: My Review of Sharpe’s Triumph

August 30th, 2022
Penny Hampson

A few days ago I went off-piste with my reading matter; instead of my usual Regency romances I decided to try a different genre set in roughly the same era. I’ve been meaning to read Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe Series for some time, having read and enjoyed Harlequin, an historical adventure set during the Hundred Years War. So here is my review of Sharpe’s Triumph.

As I’ve done a lot of research on Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, I thought Cornwell’s stories about Richard Sharpe, a soldier whose career path follows Wellington’s campaigns in India, the Peninsular Wars, and Waterloo, would fit the bill.

For some reason, I didn’t start with the first book in the series (Sharpe’s Tiger), but went with Sharpe’s Triumph, the second book, set around the Battle of Assaye in 1803. Cornwell cleverly manages to weave in enough relevant details to ensure that readers new to the series don’t feel that they have missed crucial parts of Sharpe’s back story.

Well written and thoroughly researched, this story was gripping. Full of historical detail, but not overwhelmingly so, Sharpe’s mission to avenge the death of his comrades by a rogue British officer who has defected to the Mahratta Confederation forms the basis of the plot.

Well drawn secondary characters add depth to the story, from the upright Colonel McCandless (Sharpe’s mentor and commanding officer), to the enigmatic real life General Arthur Wellesley, and the treacherous Major Dodds.

I particularly appreciated how real events were seamlessly woven in; the depiction of the Battle of Assaye and the detailing of Wellesley’s manoeuvrings and strategy which led up to it was masterful. The action-filled fighting scenes, gory though they were, brought the whole thing alive for me.

If you are into historical adventure, don’t mind a bit of gore, and are keen to get a less academic perspective of the Duke of Wellington and his battle successes, this lively series could be just what you’re looking for. I hope my review of this action-packed book gives you an insight into what to expect.