This is the chronological Book 4 of the Richard Sharpe series.
This is really the first Sharpe book that I was compelled to read because I was genuinely curious to see how it ended, and not because I was determined to finish it simply because I started it.
After so much time spent in India, Sharpe is finally returning to England. Therefore, Cornwell gets to trade in the hot dusty sands of India for the wide open seas. And just as Cornwell loves to go into exacting detail about troop movements and weaponry, so too does he literally drown the reader in nautical terminology and life aboard ship.
However, underneath all of the descriptions are a genuinely interesting story and a welcome continuation of the budding character development we have recently seen in Sharpe. For the first few books it seemed that Sharpe hardly even talked, which made him appear like an afterthought in his own storyline. But Sharpe is now more of the main character that he is intended to be, and that has made this series worth reading.
My only complaint is that every book in this series seems to follow the same basic pattern: Sharpe is down on his luck/in a scrape; he gets put in a seemingly innocent but ultimately harrowing situation; he ends up being at exactly the right place at the right time to be the hero who saves the day; and, in one way or another, he usually gets the girl. While that formula makes the book moderately predictable, it is still worth reading because it is still a good story. And in the end, thats really all that matters.