This follows Sharpe's Havoc - or at least it does in terms of story, although I think this was the first Sharpe book he wrote. Sharpe is in Spain, and he and his company of riflemen, who have become detached from their regiment, are seconded to a company that's commanded by the incompetent Simmerson. After a battle in which, due to Simmerson's tactical errors, the English lose a regimental colour to the French (it would have been two but Sharpe recaptures one), Simmerson tries to pin the blame on Sharpe, and Sharpe decides that he must capture a French Eagle in order to secure his future in the army.
There are a couple of large set-piece battles in the book, and they're well described, with stuff about large and small-scale tactics that lend it credibility. Maybe, having read so many of the books, I'm starting to get a bit tired of the same old recurring themes, e.g. of the outrageous injustice of a senior officer who mucks things up for Sharpe, but it's still entertaining.
Considering this is the first Sharpe book he wrote, it's pretty impressive: I wouldn't have guessed. There were many references in this book to events that take place in "earlier" books, although they hadn't yet been written. This spoiled things a bit for me purely because I kept worrying about how he'd manage to make things so coherent.
One of the better books.
Completed : 17-Oct-2005 (audiobook, read by William Gaminara)