Sharpe’s Fortress

Bernard Cornwell

Illustrated by Douglas Smith

Sharpe’s Fortress sees Bernard Cornwell’s celebrated hero fighting for his life – and for victory – at the deadly siege of Gawilghur. This handsome Folio volume is the first illustrated edition and joins the Folio Sharpe series.

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‘The best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present. Cornwell really makes history come alive’
  1. George R. R. Martin

Following on from Sharpe’s Tiger and Sharpe’s Triumph, Bernard Cornwell completes his India trilogy in truly spectacular fashion: with the infamous siege at the fortress of Gawilghur. This special Folio series follows the career of historical fiction’s favourite soldier, charting his rise from lowly private to his ultimate destiny as a tough and canny leader of men. These early adventures give readers a unique insight into what made Sharpe the man he is – and how he earned the long scar under his eye. The first fully illustrated edition, Sharpe’s Fortress also includes a map covering each conflict in the India trilogy, as well as a plan of the siege itself, detailing the British assault. The binding, inspired by the smart uniforms of the ‘redcoats’, features a coiled snake in black and gold foil, while Douglas Smith’s extensively researched illustrations catapult Sharpe into the heart of the action – exactly where he belongs.

Bound in blocked cloth

Set in Janson with Gainsborough Serif as display

368 pages

Colour frontispiece and 3 black & white scratchboard illustrations

Map and battle plan

Blocked slipcase

9˝ x 5¾˝

India, 1803. A remarkable act of bravery at the Battle of Assaye has seen Richard Sharpe promoted to Ensign, but he’s having a rough time of it. Born in the gutter and raised to a position normally inhabited by gentlemen, Sharpe finds himself isolated and itching for a fight. Luckily, Sir Arthur Wellesley’s campaign has chased the Mahratta horde to the impregnable fortress of Gawilghur. If Sharpe wants to see some fighting, he’s about to get his wish; breaching the fort promises action on an unprecedented scale. Wellesley knows attacking the fort will be an enormous risk, one that will make or break his career. For Sharpe, fighting his way inside offers his last chance for revenge against the murderer and turncoat William Dodd, a chance he intends to seize with both bloody hands.

Alongside breathless battle sequences and an eye for fascinating detail, Cornwell is also celebrated for his thoroughly despicable villains, and Sharpe’s Fortress gives us a pair of particularly hateful blackguards. Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill, Sharpe’s long-standing nemesis, is a grotesque and irredeemable figure with the luck of the devil, while the hateful William Dodd is a skilled fighter with no loyalty to anyone save himself. They stand in clear contrast to Sharpe; our hero may be rough around the edges, but as Cornwell himself has noted, he ‘fights for those who cannot fight for themselves’. For this special collector’s edition, Douglas Smith has crafted a set of scratchboard illustrations full of carefully researched historical details, capturing all the drama and rousing action of the Sharpe novels.

Bernard Cornwell, OBE, is a British author of historical novels. He studied at London University before joining the BBC, where he became the head of current affairs television in Northern Ireland. In 1979 he moved to the United States and pursued a writing career. Cornwell is best known for his ongoing ’Sharpe’ series, which traces the career of Richard Sharpe in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars – a series directly inspired by C. S. Forester’s ’Hornblower’ novels. His other fiction titles include The Starbuck Chronicles (1993–6), The Warlord Chronicles (1995–7), The Grail Quest Series (2000–12), The Last Kingdom books (2004– ), Azincourt (2008) and Fools and Mortals (2017). The latest Sharpe book, Sharpe’s Assassin, will be published in 2021.

Douglas Smith was born in New York City and attended the Rhode Island School of Design, earning his BFA in Illustration in 1974, having also studied sculpture, painting and printmaking. Smith moved to Boston shortly after graduation to build his freelance career. In 1992, Smith participated in the United Nations Environmental Programme’s exhibition ‘The Illustrator and the Environment’. He has drawn numerous projects for Greenpeace, including an anti-whaling children’s book and an internationally famous t-shirt design opposing the annual ‘harvest’ of harp seal pups. His honours include a Silver Award from the Society for News Design, an Award of Merit from the Society of Publication Designers, Gold and Merit awards from the Art Directors Club, and an Achievement Award from the Society for Technical Communication. He is also a frequent exhibitor at the Society of Illustrators in New York. He now lives and works on Peaks Island, Maine.


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