Only two obstacles stand between Napoleon's mighty army and its seemingly certain conquest of Portugal: a land wasted and stripped of food at Wellington's orders . . . and Captain Richard Sharpe. But perils from within and without threaten the bold captain of the Light Company -- the hatred and incompetence of a superior officer, the vicious treachery of a false ally . . . and the overwhelming numbers of a fierce, determined enemy, combining to make Sharpe's escape a near impossibility.