Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series has been enthralling historical fiction fans since the first book, Sharpe’s Eagle, was published in 1981.
Since then, he’s added a further twenty two novels and three short stories to the collection, and later this year, readers will be treated to a brand new release.
The Sharpe Series in Order
In this post, I’ll provide a full list of every novel and short story in Bernard Cowell’s Richard Sharpe series, both in publication and chronological order.
But first, let’s take a look at what this popular series is all about.
A Short Summary of The Richard Sharpe Series
These captivating historical fiction stories are set during the Napoleonic Wars of the nineteenth century. They follow the adventures of an English soldier and rifleman named Richard Sharpe, who rises through military ranks, one battle at a time.
Sharpe is an intelligent, skilled, and fearless soldier who excels on the battlefield and never backs down in the face of his enemies. But he also has a roguish streak and is described by the author as a ‘loose cannon.’
His major weakness is women; according to his right-hand man, Major Patrick Harper, he’d “fall in love with anything in a petticoat,” and he frequently proves this to be true.
But despite his tendency to be distracted by the ladies, Richard Sharpe is a natural-born leader who is admired by almost everyone who serves alongside him. Yet, although he commands respect, he’s surprisingly modest and never lets his ego get in the way of success, both on and off the battlefield.
Bernard Cornwell on Creating Sharpe
Author Bernard Cornwell first drafted Richard Sharpe into existence back in 1980, when he began penning the series debut, Sharpe’s Eagle.
He was inspired by C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels, which tell the tale of a Royal Navy officer’s progression from a lowly midshipman to an Admiral of the Fleet. Realizing that there was little else quite like the Hornblower series, Cornwell decided to write his own take on the life and times of a military man, and Sharpe was born.
That was more than 40 years ago, and today, much to the author’s surprise, he’s still going strong.
“I never thought there would be this many books – I imagined there might be ten or eleven – but then along came Sean Bean and the television program, and I virtually began a whole new Sharpe series.”
Speaking of the television program, it was this popular show that really solidified Sharpe’s place in pop culture history, attracting a whole new set of readers to Cornwell’s work.
In fact, Sean Bean’s brilliant portrayal of this stoic British soldier impressed the author so much that he even adapted his later novels to fit the description of the actor, removing any mentions of the character’s black hair (Bean is blonde). He also expanded his backstory to include a childhood spent in Yorkshire to tie in with the actor’s distinctive accent.
How to Read The Richard Sharpe Book Series?
The Sharpe series made its debut in 1981 with the publication of Sharpe’s Eagle, and for many years after that, author Bernard Cornwell published a new title almost every year.
After the 2006 novel Sharpe’s Fury, he took a hiatus, but to the delight of fans around the world, in 2021, he reignited the series with the novel Sharpe’s Assassin. And later this year, a new installment, entitled Sharpe’s Command, is due to hit the shelves. It will be released in the UK in October 2022, and US readers will be able to buy their copies in December.
There are so many fascinating Richard Sharpe books to explore, but if you’re new to the saga, figuring out how to get started can be a little confusing. That’s because Bernard Cornwell didn’t write and publish most of the novels in chronological order.
So, below, I’ll provide two lists. The first is the full publication order of the novels and short stories, and the second catalogs the works in chronological order. Many readers prefer to follow the character’s historical timeline to see how Sharpe’s adventures and career progress, but others insist that the books can be read at random, in any order you please.
So, ultimately, how you approach the series depends on your personal preferences.
The Complete Richard Sharpe Book Series in Publication Order
- Sharpe’s Eagle (1981)
- Sharpe’s Gold (1981)
- Sharpe’s Company (1982)
- Sharpe’s Sword (1983)
- Sharpe’s Enemy (1984)
- Sharpe’s Honor (1985)
- Sharpe’s Regiment (1986)
- Sharpe’s Siege (1987)
- Sharpe’s Rifles (1988)
- Sharpe’s Revenge (1989)
- Sharpe’s Waterloo (1990)
- Sharpe’s Devil (1992)
- Sharpe’s Christmas & Sharpe’s Ransom (1994) (short stories)
- Sharpe’s Battle(1995)
- Sharpe’s Tiger (1997)
- Sharpe’s Triumph (1998)
- Sharpe’s Skirmish (1999)
- Sharpe’s Fortress (1999)
- Sharpe’s Trafalgar (2000)
- Sharpe’s Prey (2001)
- Sharpe’s Havoc (2003)
- Sharpe’s Escape (2004)
- Sharpe’s Fury (2006)
- Sharpe’s Assassin (2021)
- Sharpe’s Command (Due to be published in October 2022)
The Complete Richard Sharpe Book Series in Chronological Order
If you prefer to explore Richard Sharpe’s adventures chronologically, then it’s best to follow the recommended reading order below.
Alongside the official book titles, I’ll include the subtitle with the place and year that each story is set so that you can follow along without any confusion.
- 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, August 1810
- Sharpe’s Escape: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Busaco, 1810
- Sharpe’s Fury: Richard Sharpe & the Battle of Barrosa, March 1811
- Sharpe’s Battle: Richard Sharpe and the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, May 1811
- Sharpe’s Company: Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Badajoz, January to April 1812
- Sharpe’s Sword: Richard Sharpe and the Salamanca Campaign June and July 1812
- Sharpe’s Skirmish: Richard Sharpe and the Defense of the Tormes, August 1812 (short story)
- Sharpe’s Command: Spain 1812 (due to be published in October 2022)
- 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: Franco-Spanish border, December 1813, (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 Assassin: Richard Sharpe and the Occupation of Paris, 1815
- Sharpe’s Ransom: Normandy, December 1816, (short story)
- Sharpe’s Devil: Richard Sharpe and the Emperor, 1820-21
If you’re a history buff who loves the Richard Sharpe series, then author Bernard Cornwell has several fantastic book recommendations for fans to explore.
Cornwell believes “one of the joys of historical fiction is that it leads people to reading the ‘real’ history – the non-fiction books.”
And so, he’s put together a comprehensive list of titles for readers to enjoy, which you can find on his website here. The chosen books cover all aspects of the Napoleonic Wars and beyond, and many provided the basis for his own extensive research while writing the Sharpe stories.
In 2014, Cornwell also published his own non-fiction historical deep dive into the Battle of Waterloo, Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles.
Released to coincide with Waterloo’s 200th anniversary, it narrates the same battle features in Cornwell’s 1990 novel Sharpe’s Waterloo but is told from a perspective of historical facts rather than through the eyes of fictional characters.
The Sharpe Appreciation Society
After the phenomenal success of the Richard Sharpe series, in 1996, the Sharpe Appreciation Society was formed.
This is a place for superfans to learn more about both the books and the television series and discover fascinating insights into the historical events that the stories are based on.
Though membership options are currently on hold, this is still the official, author-approved Sharpe fan club and the best place to discover more about this captivating character and the series that made him famous.
If you love historical fiction novels and you’re looking for a new series to explore, then I highly recommend giving Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe series a try.
These fascinating stories combine historical facts with adrenaline-fueled action and adventure; plus, they’re the perfect way to brush up on your history knowledge while enjoying a page-turning read.
Are you already a Richard Sharpe fan? If so, what’s your favorite title in the series? Let me know in the comments below.