Sharpe’s Tiger , my first foray into the world of Bernard Cornwell, was a success! The story is filled with interesting characters, an exotic locale and exciting action and espionage all set against the background of a British Army Battalion in 1799.
In reading other reviews, some readers complained that the characters were flat and one-dimensional. I have to respectfully disagree. While the characters may not be developed to point you may find in a Tana French novel, there is sufficient development of the major players for the reader to be concerned about their well being and keep the cheering for their safety (or death).
The main character, Richard Sharpe, is more on an anti-hero. Unlike the majority of characters of Historical Fiction novels, especially those focusing on British Army, Richard Sharpe is not paralysed by his sense of morality. Given that he does not automatically choose “the high road” this leads to more satisfying plot turns.
The setting is India in 1799. The British Army is at war with the Tippo, a Muslim Leader in a Hindu nation, for the purpose of securing their trade routes and keeping the French at bay. I have read many novels set in this period but this is first set in India. Personally, I found the setting to be both intriguing and exotic. The setting provided an interesting mix of Christian, Hindu and Muslim elements. This alone provided an interesting mix of plot points and characters.
In short, a former thief and would-be deserter, Richard Sharpe, finds himself given an opportunity to literally save his hide. In saving his hide, he is forced back into danger. By accepting a mission from his commanding officer that is both important to the war at hand and, by all accounts, bound for failure. The story is in part Historical Fiction Espionage and Historical Fiction Action Adventure.
The reason my rating was only 4 stars is that the story takes some time to get off the ground. At the 1/3 point, the book was about 3 stars. Once Sharpe makes his deal that will seal his fate, the excitement level increased substantially.
There are elements of the story that are not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of violence are more graphic than many other such HF novels. There are scenes of floggings, gun battles and public executions that have liberal descriptions of blood and various crunching sounds.
Overall, an exciting book and great start to the series. I am looking forward to reading on.