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Bernard Cornwell's books about the adventures of British soldier Richard Sharpe during the Napoleonic Wars have been enjoyed by millions, mixing - as they do - a combination of action, combat, and historical research. However, readers can have difficulty putting the many volumes into chronological order, especially as the author has written many prequels and sequels. The following is the correct 'historical' order, although they all stand alone. As you'll see by scanning below, the Sharpe series now begins with adventures in India, before moving on to the Napoleonic setting that made Cornwell's name; there's also a post-Napoleonic book at the end.
All of which begs the question, where is it recommended you start? If you intend to read the whole series, then starting with Sharpe's Tiger is a good idea because you can then go through in order as Sharpe grows. But if you want to see if you like the books, or if you want to jump into the Napoleonic Wars, then we actually recommend Sharpe's Eagle. It's a strong story and it's quintessential Cornwell.
It's also worth pointing out that the main volumes were all filmed for television in the 1990s. Although the signs of a modest budget are present, these visual adaptions are very good, and the boxset is also highly recommended by me. What might confuse people is there were later television shows using the now older actor, but drawing on the prequel books - none of which are essential.
Sharpe in Chronological Order
- Sharpe's Tiger: Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Seringapatam, 1799
- Sharpe's Triumph: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Assaye, September 1803
- Sharpe's Fortress: Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Gawilghur, December 1803
- Sharpe's Trafalgar: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Trafalgar, October 1805
- Sharpe's Prey: Richard Sharpe and the Expedition to Copenhagen 1807
- Sharpe's Rifles: Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809
- Sharpe's Havoc: Richard Sharpe and the Campaign in Northern Portugal, Spring 1809
- Sharpe's Eagle: Richard Sharpe and the Talavera Campaign July 1809
- Sharpe's Gold: Richard Sharpe and the Destruction of Almeida
- Sharpe's Escape: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Busaco, 1810
- Sharpe's Fury: Richard Sharpe & the Battle of Barrosa
- Sharpe's Battle: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, May 1811
- Sharpe's Company: The Siege of Badajoz
- Sharpe's Sword: Richard Sharpe and the Salamanca Campaign June and July 1812
- Sharpe's Skirmish (short story): Richard Sharpe and the Defense of the Tormes, August 1812
- Sharpe's Enemy: Richard Sharpe and the Defense of Portugal, Christmas 1812
- Sharpe's Honour: Richard Sharpe and the Vitoria Campaign, February to June 1813
- Sharpe's Regiment: Richard Sharpe and the Invasion of France, June to November 1813
- Sharpe's Christmas (short story)
- Sharpe's Siege: Richard Sharpe and the Winter Campaign, 1814
- Sharpe's Revenge: Richard Sharpe and the Peace of 1814
- Sharpe's Waterloo: Richard Sharpe and the Waterloo Campaign 15 June to 18 June 1815
- Sharpe's Ransom (short story, appears in Sharpe's Christmas)
- Sharpe's Devil: Richard Sharpe and the Emperor, 1820-21