Sharpe's Fortress represents one of the earlier installments of Sharpe's career before he ever went to Spain to do battle against Napoleon’s forces, before he ever become a Rifleman.
The novel takes place in India. Colonel Wellesly, later to become Lord Wellington, is charged with the task of subduing rebel forces in India. His last task is to take the seemingly unassailable fortress at Gwalighur. The storming of the fortress is no mere construct of fiction: the tale is firmly rooted in actual events --- and that includes this feat of military bravery. And the bravest of them all, of course, is our hero Richard Sharpe who must overcome military incompetence on the part of many of his “superior” officers.
An officer who has been promoted up through the ranks, Sharpe is not accepted, barely tolerated in fact by most of his fellow officers, many of who are working the system, selling British arms and ammunition to the enemy in order to feather their own nests. There is more than one gentlemanly born officer whose bravery is held to question as he instructs his men to “go slow” so they won’t be at the head of the charge.
Sharpe meets up with his old nemesis Obahdiah Hawkswill, seemingly evil incarnate and one who believes steadfastly that he cannot be killed. Despite Sharpe’s best efforts, Obahdiah escapes his just deserts by deserting to the enemy. And when the enemy’s fortifications fall to Wellesly’s men, Obahdiah escapes once again --- to reappear in subsequent Sharpe novels.
The assault on the fortifications leaves lots of room for sword and gun play and hot fighting. There are traitors to be dispatched. There are solders to be killed and other soldiers that must die.
Cornwell and Sharpe put you right in the middle of it all.
The nice thing about the Sharpe novels is that regardless of how improbable the odds stacked against our hero may be , through bravery, ferocity and tenacity, you know that Sharpe will prevail. Good must prevail. And what better good can there be than the manifest destiny of the British to triumph over all the inferior races of the planet: thank God there'll always be an England. This must be what leading a charmed life is all about.
So, here you have it: Sharpe’s Fortress: another fix for the Sharpe-addicted. What can I say: you’ve got to read this one too.