Third novel in the Richard Sharpe saga of the Peninsular War, covering January through April 1812 and the siege of Badajoz. Now a field captain, Sharpe is reluctantly drawn into the bloody suicide attack on the breached wall of besieged Ciudad Rodrigo: he helps to save the day and Colonel Lawford (whose arm Sharpe has to amputate on the field). Also on the scene: Spanish mistress Teresa, now a guerrilla and the mother of Sharpe's baby. And Sharpe's new sergeant is the hated Hakeswill, a seemingly indestructible sadist who tries to rape Teresa. Meanwhile, however, Sharpe's captaincy has been refused by Whitehall--and sold to a younger man, who now takes charge of Sharpe's company. So Sharpe volunteers, as senior lieutenant, to lead the suicidal charge at Badajoz, the largest French fortress in Spain. The siege is a long horror of mud and rain. Hakeswill robs the officers' baggage, plants evidence in Sharpe's sergeant's pack, gets the man court-martialed and flogged. Sharpe leads the "Forlorn Hope" troops into massive waves of death. Hakeswill again tries to rape Teresa but is stopped, goes mad, and escapes. And Sharpe finally regains his rank, marrying Teresa. Like previous installments: gory, lively, reasonably authentic.