So if you’ve read any of the Aubrey/Maturin books like Master and Commander or The Far Side of the World or any of the Temeraire dragon books, you kind of have this one down already. Richard Sharpe is a lieutenant in the British infantry in 1809 fighting against the French army in Spain. He’s on a mission to become a captain and to capture a French eagle, a ceremonial figure head that leads the French army into battle. The quest for these two goals, a more fully realized posting in the army with accompanying pay and a specific war glory, would set up him in life and legacy more fully. Because he rose from the enlisted ranks, he faces the specific limitations of class. Generally, rank was bought and paid for and like all things bought and paid, not only do the inherently rich therefore obtain more of them, because they are hard to come by the rich also assume they are more deserving of them. And so Sharpe, being entirely more qualified a soldier, is significantly less likely to rise. Hence the intertwining of both goals. He has the eye of Wellington, which helps, but even Wellington can’t counteract all of the English aristocratic system.
So the plot then circles around these two goals, while also bringing in a love interest from Portugal, who Sharpe perhaps sees a possible future with.
Anyway, this is one of many books from this series, and the connections forward to Temeraire (especially in the ways in which military ranks are bought and sold, the division of the military into highly specialized areas) and backwards to Patrick O’Brien, who covered a lot of the same kinds of issues on sea.
But it’s just a solid adventure and military novel.