Why You Should Read 'Sharpe's Tiger'
Stiff-upper-lip heroism in India, 1799
Sharpe’s Tiger, as its subtitle explains, tells the story how Richard Sharpe avoids Sargeant Obadiah Hakeswill and endeavors to rescue a British officer from under the nose of the Tippoo of Mysore.
Sharpe’s Tiger is the chronological first in the voluminous Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell. It is a brilliant historical fiction which has the capacity to both entertain and educate the reader. Even from the personal perspective of a private, it astutely presents the geopolitical case for the British interests in India in 1799 — a time when Napoleon was in Egypt looking east.
Everyday life in the British infantry is illuminated in all its grit, glory and grime. And despite the enemy they war against, the ugliest villainy of all can be found among their own ranks. In that regard, the aforementioned Obadiah Hakeswill deserves to be remembered as one of the great villains of literature. Hakeswill’s character walks the line of being vile enough to curdle the reader’s blood while still being entirely believable in the context of this historical fiction and its setting.
Obadiah Hakeswill thinks free subscriptions are ungodly. Says so in the scriptures, he says.
Elsewhere, I had once read a brilliant remark by Cornwell that Sharpe’s enemies should generally be British. This thought has extended from Cornwell’s earliest Sharpe books (ie. Sharpe’s Eagle). The enemies of the Brits would prove enemies enough for the setting of these stories, but the realities of war would mean that these are the men who Sharpe would be spending nearly all of his time with, allowing for his character to be developed through a (seemingly) endless series of internal provocations and obstructions.
If you are looking for a stiff-upper-lip brand of heroism, look no further. Sharpe’s Tiger scratches any adventure-lover’s itch for justice served well-done. But know that many of the characters introduced are woven throughout a meta narrative which spans many, many books — so bring a tiger sized appetite. Having said that, the enjoyment is sufficient as a stand alone piece.
Highly recommended to lovers of history and adventure.
If you are looking for a stiff-upper-lip brand of heroism, look no further! LOL