I have been busy reading. Just before we left for our holiday I scoured the local second hand bookshop and picked up 3 more Sharpe books. I've been aiming for the beginning of the series and I did quite well.
Firstly I started with Sharpe's Tiger which (being chronologically first in the series) tells the story of private Sharpe and his first adventure - rescuing a senior officer held in a citadel. Sharpe is uncannily lucky, for not only does he rescue the officer and therefore get his promotion to sergeant, he manages to kill the Tippoo (Tippoo is like the King) and get some of his jewels.
Then I moved onto Sharpe's Eagle (being the first written in the series) and it tells the story of how Lieutenant Sharpe becomes Captain Sharpe at the battle of Talavera. Once again he survives against all odds as well as against enemies from within his own army. He also loses yet another women he has fallen in love with. It seems poor Sharpe is as unlucky in love as he is lucky in battle.
Finally, Sharpe's Havoc, which is set just before Sharpe's Eagle as he fights through northern Portugal.
I have loved all of these books, as much for the historical note at the end of the book as for the fiction itself. Bernard Cornwell highlights all the changes he has made to the real events and describes a little of the places as they are today.
I also think it amazing that a series can be written in such apparent disorder yet knit together so neatly. Sharpe's Eagle was first published in 1981, yet it almost perfectly cross references with events in Sharpe's Havoc of 2003.