Patrick O’Brian is the other link. Sometimes people who see the O’Brians lined up on my bookshelf (at eye height: just happened that way alphabetically) suggest I might want to try the Sharpe series. Book people are helpful that way, you know?
So I thought I would investigate and I am here to tell you that Bernard Cornwell is not Patrick O’Brian. And Richard Sharpe, for all his quick wit and resourcefulness, is neither Jack Aubrey nor Stephen Maturin (perish the thought). Please note I am leaving Russell Crowe vs. Sean Bean out of this.
Other links: the military, obviously. Cornwell is quite attentive to strategy and he’s got lots of exotic lingo to play with. In Sharpe’s Tiger I took note of the crucial moment when Sharpe first shot a rifle as opposed to the ridiculously inaccurate musket that was his usual weapon. The tools of war are part of the reader’s fun. Sharpe’s Tiger, set in India at the turn of the 18th century, is a prequel to the bulk of the series which covers the Napoleonic wars. Like the Aubrey/Maturin books.
But I read O’Brian for much more than naval strategy, and subtle characterization wasn’t on offer here. What was — and I found it disconcerting — was a real appetite for gore, a kind of relish that bordered on the creepy.
So now we know. Popular series of books in which the British fight Napoleon are not all the same, OK?